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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, 49

In modern ideal conceptions of society there are some desires that are possibly not attainable: but there are some desires that are not desirable. That all men should live in equally beautiful houses is a dream that may or may not be attained. But that all men should live in the same beautiful house is not a dream at all; it is a nightmare. That a man should love all old women is an ideal that may not be attainable. But that a man should regard all old women exactly as he regards his mother is not only an unattainable ideal, but an ideal which ought not to be attained.

I do not know if the reader agrees with me in these examples; but I will add the example which has always affected me most. I could never conceive or tolerate any Utopia which did not leave to me the liberty for which I chiefly care, the liberty to bind myself. Complete anarchy would not merely make it impossible to have any discipline or fidelity; it would also make it impossible to have any fun. To take an obvious instance, it would not be worth while to bet if a bet were not binding. The dissolution of all contracts would not only ruin morality but spoil sport. Now betting and such sports are only the stunted and twisted shapes of the original instinct of man for adventure and romance, of which much has been said in these pages. And the perils, rewards, punishments, and fulfillments of an adventure must be real, or the adventure is only a shifting and heartless nightmare. If I bet I must be made to pay, or there is no poetry in betting. If I challenge I must be made to fight, or there is no poetry in challenging. If I vow to be faithful I must be cursed when I am unfaithful, or there is no fun in vowing. You could not even make a fairy tale from the experiences of a man who, when he was swallowed by a whale, might find himself at the top of the Eiffel Tower, or when he was turned into a frog might begin to behave like a flamingo.

For the purpose even of the wildest romance results must be real; results must be irrevocable. Christian marriage is the great example of a real and irrevocable result; and that is why it is the chief subject and center of all our romantic writing. And this is my last instance of the things that I should ask, and ask imperatively, of any social paradise; I should ask to be kept to my bargain, to have my oaths and engagements taken seriously; I should ask Utopia to avenge my honour on myself. All my modern Utopian friends look at each other rather doubtfully, for their ultimate hope is the dissolution of all special ties. But again I seem to hear, like a kind of echo, an answer from beyond the world. “You will have real obligations, and therefore real adventures when you get to my Utopia. But the hardest obligation and the steepest adventure is to get there.”

Orthodoxy, first published in 1908, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Grace in the Bible


Grace in the Bible: (some occurrences, not all of them!)

Proverbs 3:34 Surely he mocks the mockers, but he gives grace to the humble. (One of the few instances of a reference to grace in the Old Testament.)

John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Acts 15:39b Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and went out, being commended by the brothers to the grace of God. (Grace is not just for salvation, but for power to represent Christ to others, and protection in doing so, as God wills.)

Acts 20:32 Now, brothers, I entrust you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build up, and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Grace helps us to grow in Christ, to be sanctified to His service.)

Romans 12: For I say through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith. 4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members don’t have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another, 6 having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us: if prophecy, let’s prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; 7 or service, let’s give ourselves to service; or he who teaches, to his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, to his exhorting; he who gives, let him do it with generosity; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (We have gifts for service, as God's grace determines this for each of us.)

1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But let each man be careful how he builds on it.

2 Corinthians 8:1 Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia, 2 how in much proof of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their generosity. 3 For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. 5 This was not as we had expected, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace. 7 But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that you also abound in this grace. 8 I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich. (Grace empowers us to give to Kingdom work.)

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work. (Again, grace empowers us.)

2 Corinthians 12:9 He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. (Being able to serve, even though weak, is due to grace.)

Ephesians 1:7 … in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace … (We commonly think of grace as responsible for our salvation. It is, of course.)

Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; 8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them. (This may mean that grace will enable us to experience the life with Christ in the Final Kingdom.)

1 Thessalonians 5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (A statement like this is found at the beginning or end of most of the epistles of the New Testament. These statements are for the believers who were expected to read the letters, so they were not just about salvation.)

2 Timothy 1:8 Therefore don’t be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but endure hardship for the Good News according to the power of God, 9a who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace … (Again, grace so that we can do good works.)

2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (Again.)

Hebrews 4:16 Let’s therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need. (Our prayers are answered by God's grace!)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Be subject therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8a Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (Grace is supplied as we need it.)

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms. (Grace enables us to serve the church.)

1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (Grace enables us to grow spiritually.)

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (An admonition to grow in grace, which implies that believers may resist grace from God.)

The first and last statements in a book, or a speech, are usually especially significant. The first verse in the Bible tells us that God created. The last one tells us that He offers His grace to believers: Revelation 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

All things come from You

All things come from God

A Thanksgiving poster: All things come from You!

King David's prayer, on the occasion of receiving offerings from the people, for the future construction of the temple. Solomon, David's son, oversaw that construction, but David made sure that things were ready. ". . . all things come from you, and of your own have we given you!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sunspots 548

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: The Difference Between (a non-religious site) differentiates between faith and belief.

Health: National Public Radio debunks some ideas about flu shots.

The Washington Post's Michael Gerson says that coming down hard on Muslims is used as propaganda ammunition to recruit followers.

has an article on What the Bible says about how to treat refugees.

Science: Wired reports on how hints from termite mound design can cut energy consumption in our buildings.

Wired also reports on a high-tech repair of a cracked elephant's tusk.

The BBC reports that pigeons are able to detect breast cancer in human X-rays.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, 48

Remember how the most earnest medieval art was full of light and fluttering draperies, of quick and capering feet. It was the one thing that the modern Pre-raphaelites could not imitate in the real Pre-raphaelites. Burne-Jones could never recover the deep levity of the Middle Ages. In the old Christian pictures the sky over every figure is like a blue or gold parachute. Every figure seems ready to fly up and float about in the heavens. The tattered cloak of the beggar will bear him up like the rayed plumes of the angels. But the kings in their heavy gold and the proud in their robes of purple will all of their nature sink downwards, for pride cannot rise to levity or levitation. Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One “settles down” into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man “falls” into a brown study; he reaches up at a blue sky. Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.

Orthodoxy, first published in 1908, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What the Bible says about the created world - an overview

Restoring and preserving creation
Genesis 1:31: Everything created was good.

Genesis 1:26, 28: Humans are stewards over the natural world, for God.

Genesis 3:17-19: The relationship between humans and nature changed because of the Fall.

2 Chronicles 36:21: Israel was punished for not taking care of the land, as commanded in Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:1-5. (Habakkuk predicted that punishment in 2:8)

Job 40-42: God is in charge of the natural world, and He knows it intimately.

Psalm 19:1-4 (Also, Romans 1:20): The natural world is one of the ways God is revealed to us. We try to make the Bible, another way God speaks, available in the language of the heart, because it speaks more clearly. We should also protect nature, so it will speak more clearly. It’s harder to see God in a polluted world.

Psalm 24:1: The earth is the Lord’s, not ours. We are merely stewards of God’s creation.

Psalm 104:10-17: God sustains the natural world.

Psalm 104:24-25: God created an abundant diversity of living things.

Romans 8:19-22: The creation is eager to be restored.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21: We are to help Christ with His ministry of reconciliation.

Colossians 1:15-20: Christ sustains the natural world. He also has a ministry of reconciling the natural world to Himself. We should help Him sustain the natural world.

Hebrews 11:3: We probably can’t prove that God created the universe, but we should believe it.

Revelation 21:1-5: God will make all things new.

A quick summary. For more on what the Bible says about environmental stewardship, see here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sunspots 547

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity Today has an article on how to help people in need, without creating beggars, or destroying their dignity. The article considers both foreign and domestic charity.

Relevant has an article warning Christians not to judge those in need.

Humor: Relevant shows us what Dunkin' Donuts' "Holiday Cup" looks like.

Politics: A thorough analysis, comparing the amount residents of each state pay in federal taxes, compared to the amount that state, and its individuals, receive back from the federal government. Over all, "red" states are more dependent on the federal government than "blue" states. Some of the reasons for that are that Southern states tend to have more retirees, and also more people in poverty, and that natural disasters tend to strike Southern states more often. There's a lot more, including many comments.

The New York Times reports on simplifying the tax code. It's not as simple as some people think it would be.

People speaking for Muslim countries have condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

BuzzFeed has posted a picture essay on where and how Syrian refugee children sleep.

Science: Public Radio International has a post on myths about spiders. (They aren't as scary as we seem to think.)

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Church as the Bride of Christ -- References in the Bible

The Church as the Bride of Christ - references in the Bible.
Much of the Song of Solomon may be about the love of Christ and the Church. There were dramatic comparisons of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God to adultery, in the Old Testament, especially in Ezekiel 23 and in the story of Hosea and his wife.

Here are the only direct references about the Church being the Bride of Christ, in the Bible. The first two are about God's people being the Bride of Christ -- there was no Church during Isaiah's time:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord!
My soul will be joyful in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation.
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 62:5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
so your sons will marry you.
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so your God will rejoice over you.

Revelation 19:7 "... Let’s rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and let’s give the glory to him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her that she would array herself in bright, pure, fine linen: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Revelation 21:2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

21:9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were loaded with the seven last plagues came, and he spoke with me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb’s bride.” 10 He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … (all scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, public domain.)