Jun 23, 2012

Nina Hagen continues to shock and awe.

Nina Hagen, the 57 year-old Radical Left-Wing German vegetarian New Wave Punk Rock star, has been baptized a Christian. Born in East Berlin, the child of two Marxist atheists, she joined a Reformed Evangelical Church in northern Germany in 2009. As Alice Cooper said about himself after becoming a 'Born-Again' Christian, "It's the most radical thing I've ever done."
"Both of my parents were atheists, and I found the way to God all alone on my own. You have to invite him, so that he shows up... I'm a family member of Christ and I have a Lord. He marched ahead of me and showed me the way." - Nina Hagen

Three Easy Pieces: D.I.Y. Salvation

Example One: 

You are walking in the woods. Your feet get tangled in the exposed roots of a hoary old tree. You reach down to pull your boots free, but you trip over the roots and fall into a deep ravine, breaking both your ankles (because your feet got tangled in the hoary roots). You lay there, unconscious, unable even to call for help. You will die of exposure.

A burly, strong, handsome woodsman comes by and sees you. He picks you up and carries you to an aid station. You are saved.

Did you save yourself? Of course not. You had no part in your salvation. You only lay broken, at the bottom of the ravine as a result of the fall.

Example Two:

You go out sailing in a small boat on a large body of water. By yourself. You don't wear the life-vest your parents gave you (you're not even sure where it is). But you've taught yourself how to sail a boat and how to swim. You are confident in your abilities, up to a point (you don't intend to go too far out in the small, Sunfish-class sailboat).

But a squall blows in suddenly, pushing you out into the water. You struggle to get your boat back to the protection of the shoreline, but the rising waves, driving rain, and growing darkness make the struggle difficult. You fall overboard. You panic in the cold water, as you see your boat driven away from you. In your panic, you cry out for help, even though you don't think anyone can hear you.

But to your great surprise, a voice calls out. "I can save you!" You look around, and you see a large boat has appeared in the storm. A burly, strong, handsome sailor stands at the rails with a lifeline in his hands. He throws it out into water. "Grab the line, and I'll pull you onboard!"

Response A: In your panicked state, you think the lifeline is a water moccasin. "Get away from me!" you scream, and kick the lifeline away. Thrashing about, fearing there is a serpent in the water near you, you sink beneath the waves. 

Response B: You are embarrassed. The expert sailor has seen you foolishly overturn your boat ("The waves weren't really that high, and the wind not really that strong," you tell yourself). You imagine that he and his friends on the boat will laugh at you, behind your back, for needing to be saved. But you are strong, and a good swimmer. "No thanks!" you yell back. "I can swim to the shore. You go find someone who really needs help!" You begin to swim towards where you think the shoreline is, but you swim in the wrong direction. It's dark now, and the large boat is scanning the waves with a searchlight, looking for you. You keep treading water until you are too tired to keep it up any longer. With nothing to hold on to, you slip beneath the waves. 

Response C: You reach out weakly and grab the line, which lies at your fingertips. While you hold onto the line, the sailor pulls you to himself, and to safety.
In Response A, did your fear become your undoing? Yes.
In Response B, did your foolish pride become your undoing? Yes. Were you able to save yourself? No.
In Response C, did you save yourself? Of course not. You accepted the saving action of the seaman.

Example Three: (Toastmasters says to always leave them with a joke.)

The rains have been falling up river. The river is rising and will soon crest the banks. The sheriff drives up to your house and warns you to pack your belongings and leave before the flood waters arrive. "I have Faith that the Lord will save me from the flood. I will wait for Him," you respond. The sheriff drives off to warn the next family.

The waters break the levee and flood the county. The water covers the foundation of your house and laps at your front porch. The Red Cross sends a small boat to your door, asking you to leave your house. "I have Faith that the Lord will save me from the flood. I will wait for Him," you tell the Red Cross workers. They leave, looking for others stranded by the rising waters.

The waters rise into your home. You go to the roof. A National Guard helicopter comes by and spots you on the roof. The Guardsmen lower a line to you and tell you to grab hold and they'll pull you to safety. "I have Faith that the Lord will save me from the flood. I will wait for Him," you yell up to the helicopter. They try to argue with you, but you win. They move on in search of others.

The waters continue to rise. You cling to the chimney until the strength of the rushing waters overcome your own strength. You are swept away, under the waters.

You wake up in Heaven. You approach the Gates and see Peter. He welcomes you, and begins the processing work. Finally he asks you if you have any questions. You do. "I had Faith that the Lord would save me from the flood. I waited for Him, but He never came."

As he opens the Gates of Heaven, Peter looks at you and says, "The Lord sent the sheriff, the Red Cross, and the National Guard to save you, but you wouldn't come."


Abandon your pride (it is of no value), overcome your fear (it will not protect you), and grab the lifeline (then you will be saved). Come. Respond. Repent. Follow.

Jun 22, 2012

Worth revisiting.

Answered by a Lover of Free Grace 
by John Wesley

1. To say, "This man is an Arminian," has the same effect on many hearers, as to say, "This is a mad dog." It puts them into a fright at once: They run away from him with all speed and diligence; and will hardly stop, unless it be to throw a stone at the dreadful and mischievous animal. 

2. The more unintelligible the word is, the better it answers the purpose. Those on whom it is fixed know not what to do: Not understanding what it means, they cannot tell what defence to make, or how to clear themselves from the charge. And it is not easy to remove the prejudice which others have imbibed, who know no more of it, than that it is "something very bad," if not "all that is bad!" 

3. To clear the meaning, therefore, of this ambiguous term, may be of use to many: To those who so freely pin this name upon others, that they may not say what they do not understand; to those that hear them, that they may be no longer abused by men saying they know not what; and to those upon whom the name is fixed, that they may know how to answer for themselves. 

4. It may be necessary to observe, First, that many confound Arminians with Arians. But this is entirely a different thing; the one has no resemblance to the other. An Arian is one who denies the Godhead of Christ; we scarce need say, the supreme, eternal Godhead; because there can be no God but the supreme, eternal God, unless we will make two Gods, a great God and a little one. Now, none have ever more firmly believed, or more strongly asserted, the Godhead of Christ, than many of the (so called) Arminians have done; yea, and do at this day. Arminianism therefore (whatever it be) is totally different from Arianism.

5. The rise of the word was this: JAMES HARMENS, in Latin, Jacobes Arminius, was first one of the Ministers of Amsterdam, and afterwards Professor of Divinity at Leyden. He was educated at Geneva; but in the year 1591 began to doubt of the principles which he had till then received. And being more and more convinced that they were wrong, when he was vested with the Professorship, he publicly taught what he believed the truth, till, in the year 1609, he died in peace. But a few years after his death, some zealous men with the Prince of Orange at their head, furiously assaulted all that held what were called his opinions; and having procured them to be solemnly condemned, in the famous Synod of Dort, (not so numerous or learned, but full as impartial, as the Council or Synod of Trent,) some were put to death, some banished, some imprisoned for life, all turned out of their employments, and made incapable of holding any office, either in Church or State.

6. The errors charged upon these (usually termed Arminians) by their opponents, are five: (1.) That they deny original sin; (2.) That they deny justification by faith; (3.) That they deny absolute predestination; (4.) That they deny the grace of God to be irresistible; and, (5.) That they affirm, a believer may fall from grace.

With regard to the two first of these charges, they plead, Not Guilty. They are entirely false. No man that ever lived, not John Calvin himself, ever asserted either original sin, or justification by faith, in more strong, more clear and express terms, than Arminius has done. These two points, therefore, are to be set out of the question: In these both parties agree. In this respect, there is not a hair's breadth difference between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield.

7. But there is an undeniable difference between the Calvinists and Arminians, with regard to the three other questions. Here they divide; the former believe absolute, the latter only conditional, predestination. The Calvinists hold, (1.) God has absolutely decreed, from all eternity, to save such and such persons, and no others; and that Christ died for these, and none else. The Arminians hold, God has decreed, from all eternity, touching all that have the written word, "He that believeth shall be saved: He that believeth not, shall be condemned:" And in order to this, "Christ died for all, all that were dead in trespasses and sins;" that is, for every child of Adam, since "in Adam all died."

8. The Calvinists hold, Secondly, that the saving grace of God is absolutely irresistible; that no man is any more able to resist it, than to resist the stroke of lightning. The Arminians hold, that although there may be some moments wherein the grace of God acts irresistibly, yet, in general, any man may resist, and that to his eternal ruin, the grace whereby it was the will of God he should have been eternally saved.

9. The Calvinists hold, Thirdly, that a true believer in Christ cannot possibly fall from grace. The Arminians hold, that a true believer may "make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience;" that he may fall, not only foully, but finally, so as to perish for ever.

10. Indeed, the two latter points, irresistible grace and infallible perseverance, are the natural consequence of the former, of the unconditional decree. For if God has eternally and absolutely decreed to save such and such persons, it follows, both that they cannot resist his saving grace, (else they might miss of salvation,) and that they cannot finally fall from that grace which they cannot resist. So that, in effect, the three questions come into one, "Is predestination absolute or conditional?" The Arminians believe, it is conditional; the Calvinists, that it is absolute.

11. Away, then, with all ambiguity! Away with all expressions which only puzzle the cause! Let honest men speak out, and not play with hard words which they do not understand. And how can any man know what Arminius held, who has never read one page of his writings? Let no man bawl against Arminians, till he knows what the term means; and then he will know that Arminians and Calvinists are just upon a level. And Arminians have as much right to be angry at Calvinists, as Calvinists have to be angry at Arminians. John Calvin was a pious, learned, sensible man; and so was James Harmens. Many Calvinists are pious, learned, sensible men; and so are many Arminians. Only the former hold absolute predestination; the latter, conditional.

12. One word more: Is it not the duty of every Arminian Preacher, First, never, in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach; seeing it is neither better nor worse than calling names? -- a practice no more consistent with good sense or good manners, than it is with Christianity. Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly of it? And is it not equally the duty of every Calvinist Preacher, First, never in public or in private, in preaching or in conversation, to use the word Arminian as a term of reproach? Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly thereof; and that the more earnestly and diligently, if they have been accustomed so to do? perhaps encouraged therein by his own example!

From the Thomas Jackson edition of The Works of John Wesley, 1872.

Jun 21, 2012

The World Turned Upside Down.

If ponies rode men and grass ate cows,
And cats were chased into holes by the mouse . . .
If summer were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down.

Jun 17, 2012

His day.

"We must not measure by natural human fatherhood what it means that God is our Father. It is from God's fatherhood that our natural human fatherhood acquires any meaning and dignity it has. God is the Father 'from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.'"

-- Karl Barth (1886-1968)

For Harry C. Summer (1918-1996). Thanks, Dad. 

Jun 9, 2012

Sighted List

As seen and noted on my morning walks.
  • River Cooter Turtle
  • Guadalupe Spiny Soft-Shelled Turtle
  • Yellow Belly Water Snake
  • Eastern Yellow Racer Snake
  • Cotton-tailed Rabbit
  • Jack Rabbit
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Crane
  • Sandpiper
  • Crested Duck
  • Mud Hen
  • Egret
  • Alligator Gar
  • Bream
  • Coyote (spoor)
  • Horned Ow
  • Beaver (sign) 
  • Deer (tracks)
  • Raccoon (tracks)
  • Purple Martin
  • Tilapia
  • Barn Swallow
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Pill Bug
  • Oriole
  • Sand Piper
  • Cow Bird
  • Crow 
  • Cardinal
  • Raven
  • Red Harvester Ant
  • Prickly Pear
  • Spanish Moss
  • Bois D'Arc 
  • Cat Tail
  • Thistle
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Texas Blue Bell
  • Mockingbird
  • English Sparrow
  • Mourning Dove
  • White-wing Dove
  • Red Peppered Moth
  • Dragon Fly 
  • Gnat
  • Mosquito 

This list is updated as things stand out.