Feb 24, 2005

Law over Lord

The book I am currently reading is Ronald J. Sider’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience”. This book takes a long, hard look at the disparity between what Born-Again Evangelicals in the USA say they believe, and what they do. It’s not a pretty picture.

According to Gallup and Barna surveys, white born-again Evangelicals give less than non-evangelicals, they divorce and cohabitate as often as the culture as a whole, they are more racist than the culture as a whole, and they are more abusive to their wives, as well. It fits in well with my Pharisees vs. the Sadducees theory about American culture (the Left plays the role of the Sadducees, while the Right assumes the task of recreating the Pharisees).

Dr. Sider looks at “cheap grace” (as described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer so well in “The Cost of Discipleship”) as a primary culprit: the ability to ask Jesus for forgiveness, and then once saved-always saved, to go on sinning. Damning stuff…literally.

I have wondered often about how the Law has come into such prominence over Grace among Evangelicals. They focus so much more on the Bad News than the Good News, one wonders if they even believe it. Dr. Sider’s book got me to thinking that perhaps this return to the Law is based upon an odd by-product of Cheap Grace. Because their lives haven’t been changed, because there is no sign of true discipleship to the Lord Jesus, but instead they continue to wallow in sin and greed, they point to their outward confession of forgiveness…for themselves. The internal guilt, however, drives them to A) point the guilt away from themselves to other sinners, and B) to uphold the Law over the Lord.

I fear that the Alabama “Ten Commandments” monument is a good example of this return to worshipping the Law while ignoring the commands of the Lord. The protestors kneel for it, bow in prayer before it, and then point to their “Righteousness” as if it were a product of their own doing. Works Justification, except they don’t even really have the “works” that Jesus demanded to show.

In the end, it comes down to self-worship, and that’s pretty scary.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Feb 9, 2005

Behind the Red Door: Lenten Meditation on Exodus 12:21-42

If you’ve ever been to our house, then perhaps you’ll remember the color of our front door. It’s the color of dried blood. This is an old English tradition begun in village churches and carried over to homes. The red door was to symbolize the Passover and to serve as a reminder that we enter our true home, the Church, by the blood of Jesus, and that we are under His protection.

By His blood, we are marked as His and sealed as His. His blood is what keeps the Destroyer away. His blood is what causes the Angel of Death to pass by our house on his mission of death. Don’t be deceived.

When I look around my city and neighborhood, I wonder how many of the houses contain the dead. In how many of the homes is there someone dead? Dead in sin, yet walking about, spiritually corrupt and empty. I imagine at times that I can hear wailing coming from these houses.

For fifteen hundred years, the Israelites remembered and kept the Passover. But when the Lamb of God (the true Paschal Lamb) came, they rejected Him. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to attack the Roman occupiers and to liberate them... but Jesus attacked their self-satisfied religious institutions and leaders instead, because they had forgotten the Promise. His aim was and is to offer freedom from the Law and its penalty of death, through reconciliation with the Father by giving His indwelling Spirit.

For two thousand more years the Israelites have watched, waited, and observed the memory, without believing the Promise, without being set free. In my own heart, have I too watched, and observed the memory, while rejecting the Promise? Rejecting true freedom? Have I forgotten that the red color of my door is not paint, but the Lamb’s blood? Have I forgotten that I am not saved from death by my victory, but by my surrender?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Feb 6, 2005

Super Bowl Madonna?

Virgin and Child Surronded by Angels
Jean Fouquet
Tours c. 1450
What would Focus on the Family think?

Feb 2, 2005

The Presentation of the Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog's Day, an old German tradition imported to America and made totally unrecognizable. I have to admit that I can never keep it straight. He sees his shadow (the sun is shining) and that means six more weeks of winter, right? He doesn't see his shadow (overcast skies), and spring arrives early? Whatever.

Today is also the Feast of the Presentation of the Christ in the Temple, and the Purifiction of the Virgin Mary (Candlemas, too). In our culture (Christian, neo-christian, pagan, and neo-pagan), this feast makes about as much sense as Groundhog's Day. Following the birth of a child, a Hebrew woman would remain secluded for forty days until she was "ritually clean" from the nastiness of childbirth. Then she would present herself in the Temple to be declared "clean" (for a small "fee offering" and sacrifice). She and the father would also present a first born son at this time and offer a sacrifice to redeem him. You see where this is going, right? God sets up a pattern, an archetype, to show dimly how our reconciliation to him is to be accomplished. First born son (only Son), sacrifice, redemption, purification; the strands all begin to come together.

But what about Groundhog's Day? Well, I don't know about its origins in Germany, and I don't really care, but here's what struck me today. Lazarus.

Lazarus comes out of the tomb. If he sees his shadow, then the Son is shining (a dead man can't "see"), and now comes winter (the betrayal and murder of Jesus, and the three days in Hell). So that's where we are, and that's why we are all Lazarus the Groundhog. Jesus calls us out of our tombs. If we don't respond, if we don't hear his call, then we are still dead. But we do hear, and we do respond. We walk out into the light of Christ. There before us lies our shadow, a dark outline of ourselves that contains our sin. But in the Light of Christ, we can see our sin. We can't detach ourselves from it ("simul justus et peccator"), but we can see it clearly and repent. We stand in the bright light of God, we are filled with His light, and our attached sin-life lies before us.

But in the dark, we cast no shadow. We ARE the shadow.

"Lazarus. Come out! Unbind him, and remove the grave clothes."

Alleluia! Christ the light of the world, alleluia!
has manifested his glory. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:

your word has been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared in the sight of every people;

A light to reveal you to the nations

and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ the light of the world, alleluia!
has manifested his glory. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Nunc dimittis

Feb 1, 2005

An Ideal Bike/Ped Path design.

This is the ideal design for a high volume, bi-directional, multi-use, bicycle/pedestrian path. Twenty foot width, with outside 4 foot pedestrian lanes and 6 foot inside bicycle lanes, in a 4/6//6/4 configuration. Room to share, and room to manuever around slower users.

If it looks to you like it used to be a road, you'd be correct. Think of it as a rehabilitated road. Posted by Hello