Lion of Judah

A god that does not

nor cares to

walk upon the shore of a vast sea,

breathing in the salty air,

relishing what he himself

made

 

is not worth a prayer.

 

A god who does not buckle on

scabbard and mail

to go before his children

to seek his enemies upon the field,

foes for the slaughter,

 

is not worth a lighted candle.

 

A god who does not stand

at the tomb of whom he loved

and weep

 

is worth no devotion of any kind.

 

A god who does not taste

or breathe, or hate

who does not curse, or love

or serve, nor cares to

 

is a god worth mere disdain

no more than mockery

 

is no God at all.

 

 

 

The Methodist Painter

White House at Night
White House at Night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

History is a schoolroom. The lives of covenant members throughout history, teach us and our children lessons about our own trials, tribulations and faith. There is nothing new under the sun and the best way to deal with situations that arise in our times is to correctly understand our history. God moves and shapes events, and there is much we can learn from the dust that has risen up and been laid aground behind us.

Vincent Van Gogh can teach us a great deal about the real sin of Apostasy. Yet, the psychoanalysts would rather turn his struggle with faith into a steamy story of drugs, whores and artistic impetus. What few people know, is before he was a painter, he was a Methodist preacher. He was an evangelist and schoolteacher. He loved God’s word, studied it and declared it. Continue reading “The Methodist Painter”

The Covenant Structure of Worship

The purpose of the Sunday service is covenant renewal. During corporate “worship” the Lord renews His covenant with His people when He gathers them together and serves them. We do not renew covenant with God because it was going to expire or run out, like a lease. We renew our covenant with God because it is our life: we renew covenant with God in Worship the way food renews physical life or sexual communion renews marriage.

The covenant structure of creation and recreation

Yahweh’s covenant with Adam contains, in seed form, the other covenants in Scripture, as well as, covenant renewal worship. The post fall covenants are not ad hoc, novel arrangements, but renewals of the creation covenant. Following is the structure of covenant making and therefore covenant renewal and how it directly informs the liturgy of the Church.

  1. As covenant Lord, Yahweh takes hold of His creation in order to do something new with it.
  2. The Lord effects a separation. What God grasps is then transformed from one state to another, from the old to the new: a new creation. This new union (dirt and life-giving breath of Yahweh) receives from God a corresponding new name, which implies a new hierarchal relationship. There is a covenant head (Yahweh) and there are those who are dependent on that covenant head (human creatures).
  3. A new verbal communication of stipulation is expressed by the covenant Lord, a way of life fit for the new covenantal situation, a gracious enumeration of how to live fully and joyfully in this new covenant.
  4. The Lord offers His covenant partners a fellowship meal. He gives the gift of signs and seals of the covenant (two trees) together with a setting forth of blessings for grateful faithfulness and curses for ungrateful disobedience.
  5. The Lord arranges for the future succession of the covenant, which in this covenant involves marriage and children. Continue reading “The Covenant Structure of Worship”

An Unripe Suitor

Squeezing the orange revealed nothing. Alfie could never remember if oranges were supposed to be firm or soft. The orange in his hand had a little give; it could go either way. Perhaps fruit salad was a foolish dinner choice.

Alfie needed a professional. He could see the stout produce attendant patrolling the melon stacks, considering Alfie with disfavor, like a police officer contemplating a tattooed youth loitering outside the mini-mart. Submitting the orange for inspection to this authority seemed embarrassing, yet necessary.

Alfie began to fumble with his coupon book to see if he should change his dinner plans, when he sensed someone approaching. Figuring the produce attendant was ready to make inquiries, he asked without lifting his head.

“How do you know if an orange is ripe?”

Alfie looked up, into the eyes of a young woman. Alfie felt they were the first eyes he had ever really seen. Continue reading “An Unripe Suitor”

The Gentle Puritan

English: "A Front View of Yale-College, a...
English: “A Front View of Yale-College, and the College Chapel, New-Haven, printed by Daniel Bowen from a woodcut.” In the lithograph, Yale students near President Ezra Stiles are seen removing their hats, a Yale custom of the era. The building known as Yale College was built in 1717 and demolished in 1782. The ‘College Chapel,’ originally known as ‘First Chapel, was built between 1761 and 1763. From 1824 until its demolition in 1893 it was known as The Athenaeum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Book review of The Gentle Puritan by Edmund S. Morgan

Ezra was a great man. He was orthodox but liberal and gracious while seeking ecumenical unity amongst the American Churches. He believed that Christian sects were as important as local bodies because they were all flawed in some way and therefore humility, graciousness and kindness should prevail amongst men who served Christ.

He improved the American college system by raising the standards and ceremony of Yale through a thorough and excellent liberal arts education. He was a great preacher, pastor and scholar. He did not diminish the role of Yale in providing preachers, he made them better candidates and improved the learned professions in his state and the United States.

He was not a fan of the New Divinity School of thought as it strayed from “Edwardian Divinity” as he understood it. He believed the New divinity was hyper-Calvinistic and that it offered those who most needed the good news, nothing but contempt and vitriol. Stiles was an “old Light” but resembled the Puritans more than the “New Light” preachers like Whitfield. Stiles foresaw that Whitfield and other itinerant preacher’s teaching would gave way to anti-clericalism that weakened the faith and the church in Connecticut. Continue reading “The Gentle Puritan”

Sanctification versus Justification

Westminster Larger catechism Q. 77.

Q. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification of his Spirit infuses grace, and enables to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 13, Section I.

They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

We see here the continuity and organic nature of these doctrines. Here are mentioned all the proceeding aspects of the Ordo Salutis; Effectual calling, regeneration, reception of a new heart and new spirit. They are not rigid. They are not spokes on a wheel. They are the roots, sinews, leaves, buds and branches of a glorious tree. They together make one thing. Continue reading “Sanctification versus Justification”

Letting Go

The service road moved under the carriage of my car

Jostling hours away along the wood

Up where no one would hear, I was sure

in the gray area between foothills and mountain

 

I locked the doors, an urbanite out of place

Jack hobbled along as I climbed into a clearing

 

I wondered,  always

Sheepdog? Lab?

 

I drove the shovel into ground soft enough to dig easily

a necessity for some reason,

out where the wild things would certainly enjoy an easy feast.

 

I pulled two heavy objects from my pockets

squeezed the squeaky ball

I threw it out ahead of us into shrubs.

He didn’t go right off, right away.

He was always a smart dog.

 

Finally, he turned to see where his ball had gone.

The hammer slid into place.

I was close enough not to aim

the shot exploded from the hands that had raised him.

 

For hours I didn’t move.

I stood over Jack’s body

wondering; why I hadn’t

taken more time with him

and dug the hole first