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A tremendous story about a radical, Lebanese Muslim finding Jesus – and becoming a conservative Lutheran pastor to boot! I was struck by the close similarities he drew between the works righteousness of Islam and the old Roman bondage from which Luther was set free.  “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

 

Well, apparently evolution has failed to make us invincible behind the wheel. So humans have retooled themsellves to give Darwinism a little boost. This better (?) human being is able to roll with rolls, to bob and weave with head-ons. Only, I think there’s one design flaw. This better human cannot procreate because he is so repulsive.

I’ll stick with Intelligent Design. God makes perfect humans – able to build vehicles, make them safer, find romance, and perpetuate the race. No accident!

golden-wheat-field-1354390133xGa“When our Savior speaks to us concerning what constitutes our true blessedness He is simply describing His own experience. The beatitudes are not the immediate revelation of His Godhead, they are much more the impressive testimony of His manhood. He knew the truth of what He was saying because He had verified it all in Himself for thirty experimental years.”

-quoted by Alexander Whyte

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The Beatitudes

 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

– Matthew 5:2-12

“He manifests his comparative glory; “Thou art more excellent than hills of prey: fairer than the sons of men;” the bride, the believer sees him as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, every way incomparable. Whatever he be compared to he excels it; if he be a lily, he is the lily of the valley; if he be a rose, he is the rose of Sharon; if he be a plant, he is the plant of renown; if he be a physician, he is the physician of value; if an advocate, he is an advocate with the Father; he is represented without any parallel.”

-Ralph Erskine (1685-1752)

Some robust natural theology, courtesy of the redoubtable Mr. Sherlock Holmes (from The Naval Treaty, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).

* * * *

“What a lovely thing a rose is!”

He walked past the couch to the open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects.

“There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as religion,” said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

This open letter to Donald Trump is a first-rate piece on how the rehabilitation of marriage in our culture is the sine qua non of truly making America great again. It also underscores the tragic reality that “the way of transgressors is hard.”

Deeper than this need, however, is national repentance and renewing covenant with God and His Christ. Without the fear of God, not even demonstrable socio-economic harm will bring about the desperately needed reform, restore relationships and advance true human flourishing. “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

“Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect. For instance, when you have grasped that the earth and the other planets all go round the sun, you would naturally expect that all the planets were made to match-all at equal distances from each other, say, or distances that regularly increased, or all the same size, or else getting bigger or smaller as you go farther from the sun. In fact, you find no rhyme or reason (that we can see) about either the sizes or the distances; and some of them have one moon, one has four, one has two, some have none, and one has a ring.

“Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies-these over-simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.”

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The God-Man

Rembrandt_The_Apostle_PeterSomething that often strikes me when reading the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – is their earthiness.  There is something raw, unpolished, and therefore real about these four eye-witness accounts of Jesus Christ.  It has the ring of the genuine.  Their portraits of Christ and the twelve apostles are absolutely not photo-shopped.

One clear instance is the un-photo-shopped Peter.  Peter was hand-picked by Jesus at the very beginning of his three-year ministry.  Peter was a common man.  A fisherman by trade.  Really, had the Savior not singled him out, he would have lived and died a nameless nobody in the backwoods of Judea.  But Jesus changed all that.

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Rembrandt_The_Apostle_PeterUna cosa que siempre me atrae la noticia al leer los Evangelios—Mateo, Marcos, Lucas, y Juan—es su terrenidad.  Hay una calidad cruda, no pulida, y por eso autentica de estos cuatro relatos de estos testigos actuales de Jesucristo. Tiened una calidad genuina.  Sus retratos de Crito y los doce apostoles absolutamente no estan retocados.

Una instancia clara es el no-retocado Pedro.  Pedro fue escogido personalmente por Jesus al pricipio de su ministerio de tres años.  Pedro era un hombre comun.  Un pescador por profesion.  Verdaderamente, si el Salvador no lo hubiera escogido, hubiera vivido y morido como cualquier otro en  Judea.  Pero Jesus cambio todo eso.

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