Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hail Him the Lord of Years, and Lord of many revivals 2


This is a continuation of my posting Hail Him the Lord of Years, and Lord of many revivals . I intend to pepper these posts in and out of my other postings. I hope these particular stories become a catalyst of longing for the work that God might do among us, bringing renewal and revival.

But God works in his own good time. I remember reading that the family of
Corrie Ten Boom prayed for the Jewish people for a generation before God used them in a wonderful way to give safe keeping to some Jewish people in the midst of the Nazi years. And I also remember that Christians, in what is now Germany, prayed for a hundred years for the Church to be renewed before Martin Luther appeared on the scene. The story of the Church is always the story of dying and renewing.

When my husband, Brad, and I first began going to a church in the midst of the Jesus Movement, the church called
Warehouse Ministries, was small but growing. We brought growth. With our six children the Sunday school jumped to twenty people. Within a year there were several hundred children in Sunday school. This was God's doing. No one had a good explanation.

Perhaps the best human explanation was the emptiness that the hippie and activist young people, mostly in California, were experiencing. Earlier, before attending Warehouse, Brad and I were visiting Los Angeles. Our friends suggested that we all go to a church in Costa Mesa called Calvary Chapel. They told us it was a new Church that was exploding with young people.

We were amazed. I still remember that the first person we sat behind on Sunday morning had on overalls without a shirt. Most of the young people wore the clothes of the "love" generation. Which included long hair for both the guys and gals. And there were many beards.

We attended the Bible study in the evening. The huge sanctuary was filled and outside on the patio young people sat anywhere they could find a place, listening by means of loud speakers. They sat with their Bibles and paper and pen writing as the pastor, Chuck Smith taught. We went home to Sacramento praying that the Lord would do the same for the young people of our area. We did not know that God had already begun his work among the hippie generation of our area.

First Brad attended a concert at Warehouse. The group "Love Song" was playing. Next we attended together and I don't remember who the musicians were. But a string on the piano broke and Brad, a piano tuner, offered to come back and fix it. That was the beginning of our time at Warehouse Ministries.

I am placing a video of the first beginnings of the group "Love Song." I am placing it here because of the testimony of one of the members. (I know! Kathryn Kuhlman! But she comes with the video) Anyway, the video gives a real understanding of what God was doing through Jesus Christ in the hearts of the young people.



A better music video by "Love Song" is this one with Chuck Girard as the lead. The song is "Two Hands."

Friday, November 28, 2008

F.F. Bruce and John Henry Newman on the apostle John and the second coming of Christ


On the verse "Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour." (1 John 2:18)
-
"But in what sense was it 'the last hour'? John may have thought that in fact the last decade of the century was five minutes to midnight on the clock of destiny: that he and his fellow-Christians were witnessing the onset of the great revolt which would immediately precede the parousia. Nothing that he knew precluded such an expectation; much that he knew encouraged it. But if 'the last hour is to be dated between AD 90 and 100, what terminology can be applied to AD 1970 [2008]? The truth is, as John Henry Newman put it last century, that:

'though time intervene between Christ's first and second coming, it is not recognized (as I may say) in the Gospel scheme, but is, as it were, an accident. For so it was, that up to Christ's coming in the flesh, the course of things ran straight towards the end, nearing it by every step; but now, under the Gospel, that course has (if I may so speak) altered its direction, as regards His second coming, and runs, not toward the end, but along it, and on the brink of it; and is at all times near that great event, which did it run towards it, it would at once run into. Christ, then, is ever at the doors.'

In the Christian era it is always five minutes to midnight. But as 'the course of things' runs along the edge of the final consummation, the edge at times becomes a knife-edge, and at such times the sense of its being 'the last hour' is specially acute." John Henry Newman,"Waiting for Christ, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vi (London, 1896) 241, in F.F. Bruce, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1970) 65.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thief who stole from Toby Brown!


Remember how there were two thieves on the two crosses beside Jesus when he was crucified. One asked the Lord to remember him, the other simply ranted.

On my blog today, a thief ,who stole Toby Brown's identity, tried to impersonate him as a way, I am sure, of taunting Toby and myself.

Toby has reopened his blog for just one more post in order to alert the public to this person's criminal behavior. See
Impostor and Cyber-Stalking .

I pray that not only will he be caught but that he will, like the forgiven thief, repent.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankfulness for Jesus Christ and all of my family and friends

Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours.

I am posting a recipe I almost always make on Thanksgiving. It is Mattie's sweet potato pudding topped with marshmallows.

The recipe is from Spoonbread and Strawberry wine: Recipes and Reminiscences of a Family, by Norma Jean and Carole Darden.

The book is the history of an African American family going back to the times just after slavery and up to 1978.

My book is a paperback and so used that it is falling apart. It is full of the authors' family history, pictures and wonderful recipes. It has been republished so you can get a copy.

Mattie's sweet Potato Pudding topped with Marshmallows:

2 pounds sweet potatoes

1/2 stick of butter or margarine

3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of sugar, depending on sweetness of the potatoes

3 eggs

3/4 cup evaporated milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon

3 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

1 pound marshmallows

Wash and boil sweet potatoes in their jackets until tender. Peel, then add butter or margarine while potatoes are still hot, mash with a potato masher until mixture is smooth. Add sugar, stir until well mixed. Then add eggs one at a time, beating mixture well until all three eggs have been added. Stir in evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and rum if desired. Pour into a buttered 2-quart casserole and bake in a preheated 375 oven for thirty minutes. Top with whole marshmallows and continue baking until browned.

8 servings.

Several days ago I posted on a time of revival that my husband Brad and I experienced during the Jesus movement, Hail Him the Lord of Years, and Lord of many revivals . During one of our Sunday services one of the popular singers of the day, Honeytree, sang. Here she is singing a song I think is quite appropriate for Thanksgiving, "Pioneer."






"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."(Heb 12:1-2)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Once again experience is touted as having priority over the word of God

A review of Professor Erwin Barron’s third installment, "The priority of experience in moral debate”

The last installment of Professor Erwin Barron’s three part article on homosexuality, the Bible, experience and ethical decision making is entitled, “
The priority of experience in moral debate.” It was posted Sunday on the Outlook and linked to at Presbyweb today.1

Barron’s last installment does not offer any new suggestions on decision making but is instead a conclusion of his two earlier pieces. He presents the experiences of both a More Light Church and a Confessing Church and once again concludes that they are making their decisions from experience rather than from the biblical text.

He, seemingly is not suggesting that each church made decisions from there own experiences, but that they must listen to each other's experience. Otherwise according to Barron's description they are already doing what he has suggested. This means that the people in the Confessing Church must listen to the experiences of the people in the MLP Church and they to those in the Confessing Church.

But the way Barron has set up his scenario, with his suggestion that people in the Confessing Church do not know any LGBT people, this simply amounts to the MLP people being the ones to offer new information. The Confessing Church people will have nothing to say, unless of course they turn first to the Bible. But of course most Evangelicals know LGBT people and have friends in their community. This is simply a false scenario which doesn't work either way.

Barron does, in this last installment, make minor use of two Christian ethicist, James Gustafson and Richard Hays. He writes that Gustafson “says that of all moral authority, human experience has ‘priority.’” Of Hays, Barron writes, “Conservative ethicist Richard Hays says that personal experience is a ‘notoriously tricky guide’ to moral authority because people are so easily self deceived,” and “Hays agrees that the experiences of a Christian community can lead to the establishment of moral norms that sometimes even contradict Scripture, but only ‘after sustained and agonizing scrutiny by a consensus of the faithful.”2

Therefore, Barron concludes “as long as we don’t become ‘experiential fundamentalists’ or ‘biblical fundamentalists,’ then these two sources can both guide us in our moral-decision making.”

Using Gustafson, Barron gives hardly any clues at all about the ethicist’s philosophical or theological positions The reader cannot be sure what it is Gustafson believes or in what position he places the Bible as a moral authority. On the other hand, Barron takes Hays’ negative positions about experience and uses them to bolster his own positive views about experience. And he does this while failing, once again, to explain where Hays places the biblical text in relation to moral authority. This seems to me to be, itself, unethical.

The title of my last review of Barron’s three part series was
May his word overthrow us and we be transformed by his grace:. I meant that as a prayer title. Reading his last installment, “The priority of experience in moral debate,” I return to my earlier title. We must allow our experiences to be overthrown by God’s word. We must allow our sinful natures to be transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Human experience is important, of course, but our experiences are always partially shaped by fallen human nature and by creation, which also awaits our final redemption. We seek in the Holy Scripture a remedy for all brokenness. And find there a crucified Savior who calls us out of ourselves and into a redemptive relationship with him.

Within that relationship, within God's word, we find love, Christ's love given on the cross, Christ's justice bought on the cross with his blood, Christ's transforming power given by the Holy Spirit because of his bodily resurrection. And we come under Christ's kingly authority made known only in the Old and New Testaments.

“And he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:24-25)

1 Presbyweb is an independent Presbyterian news source with the best coverage of Presbyterian news on the Internet. Hans Cornelder, the founder and Editor, writes of its content, “Voices from the entire Spectrum.” He not only links to Presbyterian news but also to news of other churches in the United States and around the world. And many of the articles he posts are unique to his site. It is a subscription site but well worth the low price.

2 As someone trained to write history and a researcher who was taught the importance of footnoting, I object to Barron’s use of these two ethicist with out giving a proper reference.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hail Him the Lord of Years, and Lord of many revivals


Church historians write about revival times in the history of the Christian Church. The Great Awakening and the Welsh revival come to mind. But one thing that is fairly clear is that these particular periods, when many people are drawn to Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, are birthed by the sovereign Lord. Although people may have prayed for such a time, it is still the Lord's doing.

Over thirty years ago my husband and I became part of a church that grew out of what was called the Jesus movement. That was a time when we experienced God's revival or renewal.

For us it began when we noticed an older man looking with disapproval at a young hippie couple in our Assembly of God Church. My husband grew up in the Assemblies and that was where we made our Church home for the first fifteen years of our marriage. We longed to see God bring these lost young people to himself. And he answered our prayer.

We began to be pulled to a small but new Church that had grown out of a Bible study for young people. The Bible study was led by a woman, Mary Neely, whose husband, Louis Neely, was a traveling evangelist who spent most of his time in Africa and South America. When she quit traveling with her husband in order to provide a home for their daughter she found a new way to serve God. Some young people came asking her to start a study.

The study became church after her husband came home from his travels and could hardly get around in his house because there were so many people gathered for the study. One of the first things that happened was Saturday night Christian rock and folk concerts.

But the wonderful things that happened, such as witches and prostitutes and drug dealers coming to the Lord, is something I have wanted to write about for awhile. This was God's time and although I may never experience it again, in my life time, I want to share it. I also want to share about some of the difficulties that happen when God revives his Church and brings many people all at once to himself.

Such difficulties as false teachers waiting to pick off the new converts or new converts who become too stern and forget the grace of God. I also want to write about the way God brought people to himself. Some in Christian concerts, but also some in homes as their relatives made themselves obnoxious constantly reading Scriptures to them.

And here are my disclosures, the church was arminian and dispensational, but nonetheless it was God's timing and out of the many young people that came to Jesus Christ, during this time, as has recently happened in the Southern Baptist denomination, many became Reformed in their theology.

By way of explaining how God used music and musicians during that time I will be giving examples. One of the persons who often came for concerts was Barry McGuire, at the time a new convert. He had played in the stage production of Hair.And his most famous recording was "The Eve of Destruction." But, Jesus grabbed him and would not let him go.
I am going to post his most famous song and then a song he wrote and sang after he turned his life over to Jesus.

Calling Me Home

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good News from afar

News from our missionary friends in Thailand


Cool air has been blowing down our way from China. It is the time of year when we have many visitors out Thailand way.

Last week we had a pastor from Bhutan who is on study assignment in Bangkok. We were able to have him over to spend the whole day in fellowship with us in our home here in Chiangmai.

It was also a joy to have Bill C. in town for this month. Bill’s family spent 51 years serving here in Thailand. His son and wife and wee grandson Abe were also here with us for a few days. They are still serving the Lord in Thailand.

Bill has been staying with dear friends and helping at a Bible School, and at 86, still helping with translation of training materials into Thai language. Bill lives back home in N. Ireland now.

We all were next door to Bill this last weekend when with our office worker Pailyn, we cared for 10 kids. It was not penance, but rather an opportunity to give a small respite to the W’s. The W’s have adopted this group of 10 children and maybe a rabbit or two. The kids have special needs and come from various continents and countries.

Papa W lost his legs in Vietnam. His 25 years experience as a social worker well suits him for this work and calling. His wife also is specially prepared and called but we have observed she has a hard time saying no to people and especially kids in need.

When we talked with the kids about being a part of a big family (altogether more than 20 of their kids have grownup and "graduated" into adult lives) the older kids were saying that it seems small now. When they served eight years in Africa their home grew to 200 kids.

Anyway, Mom and Papa were looking a bit more tired than usual, so we came in to pinch-hit for them so that they could have a weekend away. This came at the time they received news that their home church was dropping them from their missions list. They are very active in their church here and are about to open a house group in their neighborhood.

For those of us who have had the privilege of working directly in church planting and nurturing ministries; we appreciate and honor the 90 percent who are in support work like translation, Bible schools and children’s homes.

All over the world the enemy likes to attack families. But our friends like the W’s not only teach principles of Christian family, but they are modeling it in a most extraordinary way as well. We bless the Lord for them and for all of you who are receiving this note as you live and model Christian family in the place of your calling so that others may hear and see and come to know the love of God.

We have known a family in Penn. that have been such a blessing to us. Now their younger son (who we used to watch in nursery) and his wife are serving the Lord here in Asia. I have enjoyed so much reading their reports and seeing their pictures. I really like how they sign their reports and would like to borrow from them, confessing that we all as Christians where ever the Lord has us and whatever He has us doing, we are:

"Learning to Love",

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shining light in the midst of darkness


Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

I have seen this story on other blogs.
Reformed Pastor , David Fischler had it posted under Gay Brownshirts on the March!. But the best reporting of the incident I have found is at a Gay paper The Bay Area Reporter. The article is "Police escort Christians out of Castro" by Seth Hemmelgarn. Although the reporter, undoubtedly, did not intend to show how Christians might act in the midst of mob persecution that is exactly what he did.

When I first heard this report one of my first thoughts, I will admit, was what were these Christians doing there in the first place knowing that the gay community was in an uproar over proposition 8. But from this article I learned that the young people had been going to the Castro for three years and they had friends there.

As one of them stated when asked if they would go back, ""We have friends there. We love the people who live in the Castro, and in no way hold what happened Friday night against them."

I also wondered how they were conducting themselves in a place where they knew they might be unwelcome. They were simply praying and singing hymns.

This is not an easy read and the video, if you watch it, has unclear but obscene language in it. But it is good to know that those who inhabit darkness have seen God's light shining in their midst. May God continue to offer his mercy of love and forgiveness because of Jesus Christ.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Professor Erwin C. Barron's position on LGBT ordination and marriage

Update--see below --Additional Up-Dates see below
Third Up-date see at very end:

As I was rereading comments on the Outlook concerning Professor Erwin C. Barron's article “
The Bible in the homosexuality debate.”, I started wondering what his position on ordaining LGBT people was. So I googled.

Barron not only agrees with ordaining unrepentant homosexuals he also believes that gay marriage is a good thing. I don't think one should write an article, such as Barron has, using two different sides as though he is coming from a neutral position, when in fact, he has a very definite position. And he believes that those who hold a view that the Bible teaches that homosex is sin have hate filled hearts.

Below is Barron's comment at
Topix.

"Written to a Mormon elder and the SLC Tribune:To the editor and dear Elder L. Whitney Clayton:
You may say you don't hate me and want to treat me with respect. But you most certainly are acting like you DO hate me and have NOT in any way shown respect to me.

Last month, I married the love of my life in my church with a congregation full of good Presbyterians and family and friends, gay and straight. It was the most wonderful day of my life.

It was beautiful, scriptural, loving, and uniting.Now, you and your Mormon buddies have treated me with ''respect'' by spending millions of dollars to interfere in my life, take away that wonderful marriage, and stick your thumb in my eye from thousands of miles away in Salt Lake City. WHY?

You say it is a moral issue for you. Well, fine! Why do you get to impose your morals on me? It just doesn't make sense! And I won't even get into the whole notion of polygamy. You have NO RIGHT whatsoever to preach to me about ONE man and ONE woman.

I pray for your interfering, disrepectful, hate-filled souls.
Erwin C. Barron, PhDPacifica, California"

What is the point of the article he wrote?


Up-Date The wedding performed "at the Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. The Reverend Maggi Henderson officiated." (Scroll down the page at The Bay Area Reporter)

On the Old First Presbyterian Church Page is this:

"Discussion of recent California Supreme Court decision declaring prohibition of same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. Steve Taber presented a lengthy and technically researched opinion as to the viability of incorporating same-sex marriages into our repertoire of celebrations. Both the Associate Stated Clerk of the General Assembly [Mark Tammen] and the Stated Clerk of San Francisco Presbytery have found his conclusions valid. Pastor Maggi stated that this is a way for us to show love and support for members who are making a serious commitment,and all her usual pre-marital procedures would remain in place – counseling, etc. We thoroughly discussed this concept and then Pam Byers presented the following motion: The Session authorizes Pastor Maggi Henderson to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies, and will consider requests for use of the sanctuary for these ceremonies, under the California Supreme Court ruling of May 15, 2008. These services will include pastoral and congregational celebrations and blessings following guidelines in the July 3, 2008 letter from Stephen Taber, Esq."

One might wonder why I would post all the information I have here. Two thoughts come to mind.

First, Barron wrote what was meant as guidance for Christians, that is he was suggesting a way to discern how to get past the divisions in the PCUSA. Yet, as a member of the PCUSA he was attempting to bypass all of the Scripture, Confessions and Book of Order. Barron needs Jesus Christ’s transformation, but he must first admit he is sinning. He tried to write in such a manner that he could cover his particular sin and get others to call it good. None of us are allowed to do this, and we are all sinners.

And second, while our Church is being torn apart by the gay community’s insistence that all accept their lifestyle some pastors are encouraging the tear. They are flaunting their disobedience before a broken world that needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. The world needs the proclamation of Christ's transforming grace bought by his blood. Instead we have pastors affirming the brokenness and encouraging the sin.

Third Up-Date
Jack Haberer contacted me with a very gracious note. He did not know that Barron had participated in a gay marriage or that he was advocating for LGBT ordination. Haberer has written that he would welcome having me share on my blog that I contacted him and that he "was not made aware of Mr. Barron’s direct involvement in these matters" and he is "looking into this further – and will respond accordingly."

Monday, November 17, 2008

May his word overthrow us and we be transformed by his grace:

A Review of Professor Erwin C. Barron's "The Bible in the Homosexual Debate"

Professor Erwin C. Barron’s second installment of his three part article on the Church, the Bible and homosexuality is entitled “The Bible in the homosexuality debate.” It was posted today on “The Outlook” and linked to at “Presbyweb.”

His first installment, “Why do we Presbyterians continue to fight?” as I wrote earlier in a
letter to Presbyweb, was in absolute contradiction to the Declaration of Barmen. He is still traveling that worn road; in fact, he is stomping as he goes. Now Barron has actually placed experience over Scripture by suggesting that using the Bible to come to a decision would be too divisive.

Barron has set up a scenario in which two model churches, one a More Light Church, one a Confessing Church, are making their decisions about ordination based on experience rather than the Scriptures. He believes the people in the More Light Church made their decision that LGBT people should be ordained because they know them and are friends with them. They discount the biblical text insisting it is not relevant for our time.

On the other hand he believes that the Confessing Church people, who believe the Bible forbids ordaining LGBT people, accept women pastors because they have experienced strong women pastors. He writes, “In both congregations, the Bible passages restricting women were explained as relative only to the context of biblical history and not relevant today.” But there is a problem here that I believe Barron ignores

All biblical passages that speak of homosexuality as a sexual practice either forbid the practice or speak of it as sin. On the other hand there are a few scripture texts that seem to discourage women in ministry, and that being the case, they must be reconciled with the many biblical texts that either encourage women in ministry or point to women in ministry. (Acts 2:16; 18:26; 21:8-9; Romans 16:3,7; 1 Cor 11:5)

Barron is simply attempting to by-pass the Bible. He tries to imply that starting with the biblical text discounts “the importance of personal experience.” But he is terribly confused.

We bring our experience to the Bible, not so we may shape what it says or even to pick those parts that might seem relevant to our experience, but so that we might be changed, transformed and made new. God speaks his truth to us and we speak our broken experiences back, seeking his forgiveness and transformation.

Barron does write one sentence, in his latest article, that is loaded with truth. He writes, “When we begin with the Bible, we are not beginning with a natural place for all of us.” Of course Barron believes we need a natural place and believes it is experience.

But experience is different for each person, and God’s word is unchanging. If we begin with experience we will encounter unending divisiveness; if we begin with God’s word we will find Jesus Christ, his redemption and in our unity with him a unity that is eternal.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A bit of news


For those who are interested in the on-going news in the Sacramento area about the happenings around proposition 8 there are several small news items. In the Sacramento Bee, today there was a very small article by Jennifer Garza, stating that the FBI is investigating "whether recent acts of vandalism against Mormon Temples and meeting houses are hate crimes."

The story states that in the Sacramento region ten Mormon church buildings "have been vandalized since the elections."

Another smaller article states that the California Supreme Court is asking the State to give their opinion on the suits filed against proposition 8. The author, Denny Walsh writes, "The court has requested the attorney general's office respond by Monday to the suits, filed by gay and lesbian couples and some municipalities."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Martin Luther and John Calvin on the Inspiration of Holy Scriptures

Pictue of Pict cross taken by Stephen Larson

Last week I taught a class on the inspiration of the Scripture. Some of the class centered on Reformation views of Scripture, in particular the views of Martin Luther and John Calvin. In my handout I placed some quotes from both men for the class to think about.

Martin Luther who did not have a formal view of inspiration looked at the biblical text through the lens of Christology and justification by faith. For him Christ and the Scriptures hung together like the babe in the manger.1 Jesus Christ must always be the focus of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. The Bible is the crib which holds Jesus. He wrote:

"He who would read the Bible must simply take heed that he does not err, for the Scripture may permit itself to be stretched and led, but let no one lead it according to his own inclinations but let him lead it to the source, that is, the cross of Christ. Then he will surely strike the center."

Despite Luther's feelings about the book of James and other books he never removed any from his translation and had this to say about the authority of Scripture, “… for Scripture alone is the true over-Lord and master of all writings and doctrines on earth."2.

Calvin had a very high view of Scripture. A statement from Calvin’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16 reaches such a height that one could believe that some with liberal inclinations might shutter in fear of biblical idolatry . Yet it is his view of Scripture the Church so desperately needs today. Calvin wrote:

“All those who wish to profit from the Scriptures must first accept this as a settled principle, that the Law and prophets are not teachings handed on at the pleasure of men or produced by men’s minds as their source, but are dictated by the Holy Spirit. … We owe to Scripture the same reverence as we owe to God, since it has its only source in Him and has nothing of human origin mixed with it.”

Although it is the task of apologetics to offer reasons for belief concerning the inspiration of Scripture still it is the Holy Spirit which ultimately affirms this truth to the hearts of believers. On this Calvin wrote:


“For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely intrusted.” Institutes, book 1, chap. VII (4)

Also, this last Sunday, my husband and I went to the opera, Hansel and Gretel, as written by Engelbert Humperdinck. In the Opera there is a scene where, after Hansel and Gretel triumph over the witch, they discover all of the children looking like stiff gingerbread men, their eyes tightly closed.

As Hansel and Gretal go to each one, the children begin softly singing, to a beautiful melody, "Touch me too, that I may open my eyes." I found myself weeping with these words. And so again may the Holy Spirit touch the eyes of those whose eyes are closed and open them to see Christ's mighty triumph on the cross on behalf of his lost children.


1.See Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers.
2.WL –from “An argument in Defense of all the Articles of Dr. Martin Luther Wrongly Condemned in the Roman Bull.”

Something Wicked This Way Comes

A new headline for the Sacramento Bee, CMT artistic director quits in fallout from Prop. 8 support by Marcus Crowder.

See also:
Prop. 8 victors upset by personal attacks by Bee writer, Jennifer Garza. A family Ice Cream spot, Leatherby Family Creamery that my family, when the children were small, use to enjoy, is mentioned in this piece. The owner, a Catholic who gave to proposition 8, has also been targeted by bloggers.

To add to this I saw this video on
anglicantv.org last night

"
A least Jesus warned us this would happen one day."

I thought I was finished with this post, but found I had something else to say. I don't believe all of the gay community agrees with all that is happening in these links. I believe that many in the gay community may be surprised by the actions of some of their fellow compatriots. But the truth is unrepentant sin of any kind be it greed, lying or adultery, whatever only escalates with time. There is One who can fix all of this, Jesus Christ, who went to the cross for all of our sins.
Pray for California

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Sacramento Gentleman harassed by the gay community

Update: See below


I have never discussed Mormonism on this blog although as a Reformed, Evangelical Christian I do not agree with Mormon teaching. Nonetheless, I want to give praise today to a Mormon gentleman who is being harassed by the gay community in Sacramento and else where.

Scott Eckern is the artistic director of California Musical Theatre which includes The Music Circus a long time institution in Sacramento. He has been employed by the Musical Theatre for 25 years.

Now because he gave a donation of a $1000 to the campaign for proposition 8 even his job is in question. The Sacramento Bee reports that the board of directors are holding an emergency meeting this afternoon because of the many complains about Eckern's gift. If Eckern loses his job it means that those who contribute to the cause of traditional marriage might need to worry about their livelihood.

Evidently, the Excutive Director of the Musical Theatre group put out a press release stating that, "Any political action or the opinion of Scott Eckern is not shared by California Musical Theatre. We have a long history of appreciation for the LGBT community and are truly grateful for their long standing support."

Well, yes, that is well and good, but do they also have a long standing commitment to a free democracy where all can support with their own money those views that they hold dear. Or must all of us who support traditional marriage give away our rights including our jobs.

Supposedly Eckern's name is all-over gay activist sites, including a blacklisting one which has published his "name and professional affiliation along with those of others who made contributions."

This is simply lawlessness at work in the hearts of individuals. Eckern is to be praised for standing up for traditional marriage.

Update:

In another article in the Sacramento Bee , Scott Eckern has stated "I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings maybe even betrayal. It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction," and "I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved. I support each individual to have rights and access and I understood that in California domestic partnerships come with the same rights that come with marriage."

Also, "I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear. This is a highly emotional issue. I have now had many conversations with friends and colleagues and I now have a better idea of what the discrimination issues are, how deeply felt these issues are and I am deeply saddened that my acting upon my religious convictions has been devastating to those I love and admire… I am deeply sorry for any harm or injury I have caused."

He also "donated $1,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which works to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans."

The emergency meeting of the California Musical Theatre was canceled. A lot of this is a sham and a shame. A sham because so much pressure was put on Eckern and a shame because so many people cannot see that the kind of pressure put on Eckern is not at all like the civil rights movement where people were willing to put their life on the line but is a form of bullying. Pay your money and apologize or be harassed out of a job.

If you don't think Eckern was pressured read this at New York City Theater



Monday, November 10, 2008

Davis Community Church, in Sacramento Presbytery & Covenant Network lawyers make plans for pastors to officiate at gay and lesbian civil marriages


Q. When are Presbyterian (USA) Pastors not Pastors? A.When they are California State officials performing civil marriages for same sex couples?

Although proposition 8 passed, the recent months of legal marriages of lesbian and gay couples in California has spawned deeper problems for the Presbyterian Church (USA). And evidently the Pastors and Session of Davis Community Church and the lawyers for the Covenant Network have added to the moral debacle.

The Davis Community Church, a member of Sacramento Presbytery, recently published their November newsletter The Courier.
1 In it, under the title, “A Letter from Session to Members and Friends of Davis Community Church Regarding the Blessing of Same-Gender Marriages,” they insist that Covenant Network lawyers gave advice to their Church concerning the ecclesiastical legality of their pastors performing civil marriage ceremonies for gay and Lesbian couples.

Session members are seeing double! They insist that a pastor is both a pastor and “a duly authorized official of the state of California.” The Session members of Davis Community Church are, or were, preparing to allow their pastors to put on a different hat and marry gay and lesbian couples in a civil ceremony and then bring them into the Church for a blessing.

They write, “A DCC pastor, therefore, acting in his or her capacity as a duly authorized official of the State of California, may officiate at a civil same-gender marriage, with no reference during this legal event to the Presbyterian Church or any official action on behalf of that Church or DCC.” Seemingly they have forgotten that they are official because they are a pastor.

The Newsletter signed by members of DCC Session quote the Covenant lawyers. The members writing “that they [the lawyers] said in part:”


“There is nothing anyone can do to protect absolutely against another Presbyterian filing allegations complaining against one’s actions. However, allegations only become formal ‘charges’ if an Investigating Committee decides they have merit and should be pursued. We believe that ministers are well within Presbyterian polity to conduct a service creating a civil marriage and then invoking God’s and the community’s blessing on that new relationship.” (Bold Mine)
Session members write that it is not their “intent to antagonize nor alienate brothers and sisters in Christ whose Biblical interpretations lead them to a stance of prohibition against ordination and marriage of partnered GLBT individuals.” They are also concerned that their “desire to express Jesus’ love for all by conducting a same-gender marriage" will "become overshadowed by a ‘media circus,’ transforming our wish for a loving act of inclusiveness into a highly charged political event.”

But the members conclude that they must allow this because of Jesus’ command to love one another and because “God calls us to demonstrate God’s love for all of us and celebrate our diversity across race, economic status, age, gender, disability, marital status, and sexual orientation.”

But the duplicity of the Sessions actions, and the underhandedness of the lawyers, if the Sessions report about their advice is correct, hardly models the connectedness of the Church or the love of Christ.



1 The News letter has been sent out to those who request it but is not yet published on the web.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Me Too!

Picture of the cross taken by Stephen Larson

Most of us try to stay away from people when they attempt to light metaphorical matches as a means of ridding themselves of their supposed enemies. Still, sometimes people, not understanding the matchless Gospel (yes, a pun) just say things that make you want to jump up and yell, "Me Too!"

Reverend John Shuck over at Shuck and Jive, in the comment section of his posting My New Moniker did that. At least I, as a Christian couldn't keep from writing "Me too!," when he wrote:

"That is what fundamentalism is fundamentally about. Fundamentalists want people "found in Christ" so they are not lost in hell."

So of course that means that even C.S. Lewis was a fundamentalist.... Possibly even N.T. Wright. And certainly a favorite writer of mine Walter Wangerin Jr. I have written about him before --and his view of what he calls the fourth death or "Death Absolute."

"it is the Dying Absolute. It is the sundering of every relationship for good, forever, and for all. It is more than the cutting of earthly relationships, for it is the experience of eternal, irrevocable solitude. It is perpetual exile from God. From love. It is perhaps (though I do not understand this) the death that knows it is dead. Now, finally, one knows what love is, though one is severed forever from loving and being loved. Now one knows God both in goodness and in glory, and fears him, and honors him, and would even believe in him, but cannot, for God has departed from one eternally. This is the death of every holy alternative: what is, must be the same forever.

It is a divine and solemn irony, for God hath finally granted the sinner, now in his fourth death, what he took from God in the first: complete independence, a perfect autonomy, a singularity like unto nothing in all possibilities--except the singularity of God before he began to create. But he who has died the fourth death is not God; he never could create, and now he can accomplish nothing. He is the god of a little realm that admits one god only, his impotent self. He can only know and despair. He is lost, and 'lost' is all he may say of himself forever, no attribute, no other characteristic, no past nor future, that single thing. 'I perish.'"

But yes there is hope, the joy of being found in Jesus Christ rather than finding one's self in eternal misery, for the Father "made peace though the blood of His [Jesus'] cross."(Colossians 1:19a)

And those who belong to Jesus Christ will be found in him, "for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory." (3:3-4)

So, yes, what ever the name, if you mean someone who longs for the sinner to be found in Christ, count me in. "Me too!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

The President Elect's Web Site

Maybe its just me but..... Evidently the New President Elect, Barack Obama, has a public web site, Change.Gov. Office of The President Elect.

When I explored the site I saw various links like "Agenda", "News", etc. Under Agenda one topic is "Ethics" with some thoughts about the problems of lobbying and some statements about what Obama and Biden will do to solve the problems. This is one of the things that they will do.

"Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."

I find this a bit odd and wondered what others think about it.

The other thing I noticed, and was far more concerned about, under Agenda, was "faith," with this included in the wording:

"Senator Obama also laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate."

Some times we should universalize our faith understanding when participating in public debate. But often it is the specifies of the individual's faith which holds the foundation of their convictions. And without that there is really no debate.

For instance the debate on abortion, for me, is tied to my belief that God creates human life and creates human life in his image. That is my strongest argument. (It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer's also, and he was very public about it. He wrote it in a book he titled Ethics.) I hope the President Elect will not insist that any of us set aside our beliefs by universalizing them in order to enter into public discussions about important moral issues.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lost Links

My apologies to all I have some how knocked all of my links off of my blog. I know it will be awhile before I get them back on but I will keep working at it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Reformed African American, Eric C. Redmond, on the election


Interested in how some African American pastors, who are truly reformed, were reacting to Barack Obama's election victory I scanned some of my favorite sites. I discovered this wonderful piece over at Justin Taylor's site, Between Two Worlds. "Living Soli Deo Gloria Under Obama" by Eric C. Redmond who is the author of Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's Questions About the Church.

Redmond, after giving his concerns about voting with his ethnic group and yet desiring to honor Jesus Christ by standing for righteousness via traditional marriage and upholding the sacred rights of the unborn quotes Proverbs 24:10-12 and writes:

"I cast my vote in the hopes of rescuing those being taken to the slaughter. I could not vote in such a way that I would have ignored the blood flowing from fertility clinics, for I know that the Almighty would repay my cowardice. My hope in his word is that he will remember me and graciously and provide for my life, repaying me with mercy."

He then turns to the victory of Obama and writes:

"The government only allows this sin [abortion] to receive legal permission and protection. Nevertheless, that same government provides many laws that allow me to worship in freedom, preach the Gospel freely, vote in an election, and write blog posts like this one without fear of censorship or death. I readily can recognize the retention of "some kind of just government" under President Obama's rule."

Finally he concludes with this:

"Those who fought for civil rights for African Americans were doing so out of a moral impetus to see African Americans treated humanely—as human beings rather than like chattel or as 3/5ths-human. I think the best way to honor their work and lives when the office of Commander in Chief is within reach would be to continue that moral quest. That quest is continued by finding a candidate who seeks to see African Americans, even those in the womb, treated humanely—as people rather than as cattle for our labor and experimentation or as a 3/5th-human fetus."

I can hardly do justice to the article without posting the whole so please although it is a rather long do read it.

Some thoughts on the outcome of the election


As my husband and I watched our new president elect, Barack Obama, speaking to the huge crowd in Chicago tonight, we were touched by the many African Americans, including Jessie Jackson, who stood with tears running down their cheeks. Later talking about their tears and joy, we thought of how this was a gift to many citizens of the United States, giving them a new sense of their self-worth. And although Obama was not our choice we believe we saw God’s sovereign hand in the event. And so we offer congratulations to Obama and to those who chose him.

But most of all we offer our prayers as Christians.

And I also add this thought. Obama professes to be a Christian and Christians grow in their walk with Jesus Christ. He sat under a preacher who for many years fed him a gospel that failed to address some of what it means to walk with Jesus Christ. Obama was taught to care for some of the least of these, but surely, not all of the least of these.

He has not been touched by the plight of the unborn. So as he moves forward, not only in his presidency but also in his faith, I will pray that he finds a good church home and fellow believers who will mentor him into a fuller faith.

The future is God’s; he knows all of its events and all of his children’s needs. He is able to change each one of us as we allow him to be Lord of our life.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? …

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, he lifts up the islands like fine dust. …

All the nations are as nothing before him, they are regarded by him as less than nothing and meaningless. …

The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might he increases power. …

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
” (Isaiah 40:12, 15, 17,28b-29, 31)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thinking about the election today


It's November 4th and all of my feelings find agreements at three sites. Pastor Mark Roberts and his second posting of his series "A Christian Response to the 2008 Presidential Election." But also at Get Religion . Org, Terry Mattingly,'s "Sue me, I’m not in Nirvana today."

James M. Kushiner of Touchstone has posted a link to an article by Ryan T. Anderson & Sherif Girgis at The Witherspoon Institute. The Article "The Pro-Life Case Against Barack Obama . . . and Doug Kmiec," is both about abortion and Obama, but more I think it allows the Church to think about tomorrow. And Kushiner in his introduction to the link also points that direction with two thoughts I find important.

The first, "This debate within the church is not going to go away after the election tomorrow. The principles and issues involved here are quite timely and important to the inner life of the church, across the board." And secondly still thinking of abortion he writes:

"The focal point of the story of mid-19th-century America is slavery, which had political implications, and worse. Whenever blood is shed in great quantity whether legal or not, it cannot, in the long view, remain silent.."

Monday, November 3, 2008

A link removed

I wish to thank the Sacramento Presbytery leadership and web people for removing the link to California Church Impact from their mission and outreach links. I had written earlier that California Church Impact was offering along side California Council of Churches recommendations against voting yes for proposition 8 which would restore traditional marriage between a man and woman back to the state. Since we are members of a Christian denomination I was concerned, to say the least, that our Presbytery was linked to them.

The leadership of our Presbytery is very gracious in removing this link. Thank you.