Kelinci Hutan
19 January 2014 @ 12:44 pm
Our sermon today was about how God can make good things out of bad ones. "Every negative has a positive." Which is true. And the ultimate example of this is, obviously, Jesus' death. Definitely the most profound negative in history.

But that got me thinking. Because the positive out of that is, obviously, redemption and salvation. Which is the most profound positive possible for the believer. But what does God get out of this?


...And that's it. Other than that, I can't think of anything.

So, it isn't just that God loves you and it isn't just that He wants to redeem people to Himself. It's that God takes so much joy in His people that the most profound negative in history was deemed worth it because it brought us back to Him, even though it accomplished no other end.

If ever you need a reason to smile, I think that's a pretty good one.
Music: "The Kraken" - Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest by Hans Zimmer
Location: Ivy Manor
Kelinci Hutan
21 July 2013 @ 07:31 pm
So, backstory, my church burned down last Saturday. (I know, I know, I am the Master of Disaster. But seriously! It happened!)

Now, before I get into the rest of this post, let me say, that building was awesome. It was gorgeous. It had a nice color scheme. The library was full of books. The choir room made rehearsals sound so incredibly amazing that you would think our choir was three times the size that it is to hear us singing in there. Great building.

One little lightning strike, and now it's a total loss.

Now, that is deeply frustrating and sad and unfortunate. We're a close-knit church and we loved the building. And loosing the books in the library and pastor's offices was a big loss. But overall, nobody was hurt, and it's a building. It's a thing. We'll build a new one and we'll be okay. The church has good insurance and we're going to be fine. We've even got a new place to meet on Sundays until we build a new building.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

See, this morning during the pastoral prayer, our pastor said that we were "suffering." And I went, "Erm...we're not suffering that much."

See, this new place is not as nice as the one that burned down (well, it's nicer than that one now, but before the fire, there was no comparison). It's only got one bathroom. The floors are kind of uneven. We're all sitting in plastic chairs instead of pews, so there's no place to put hymnbooks and the pews were much more comfy. And nicer looking. The pastor/pianist/choir space is up on a stage instead of a dais so they feel farther away.

Gee. How awful.

This building has air conditioning. We all fit into the auditorium. We have a bathroom. We weren't sitting on the floor. There are walls. The roof doesn't leak. And it isn't made out of corrugated tin, so if it had started to rain, I still could've heard the pastor. Come to that, we have a sound system, so you can hear the pastor in the back. Compared to some of the places that our Christian brothers and sisters meet in every Sunday, as their regular buildings, this building is a palace. There are people I've met who would fall on their knees in tears to be holding services in a building as nice as this one. And this is, for us, a step back from our usual building. And a temporary step back at that. Heck, whatever we build to replace the building we lost will probably be even nicer. We have been, and remain, a congregation with remarkable material blessings.

When the building burned down, that was suffering. But right now, where we are, that isn't. That's just inconvenience. And who doesn't need a little bit of that every so often?
Music: "Be Thou My Vision" by Carlton Forrester
Mood: thankful
Location: Ivy Manor
Kelinci Hutan
27 August 2012 @ 09:38 am
This has nothing to do with the entry.  It's just fun. :)My church just finished holding a "history conference." Over the weekend, Dr. David Calhoun from Covenant Seminary in Missouri visited and gave a series of talks on John Calvin. One on Saturday, the sermon on Sunday, a Sunday school class on Sunday, and the evening sermon on Sunday. Basically, it was Calvinism history central.

Which was interesting, for sure, but I thought it was more interesting that people showed up for this stuff. I mean, me, I'm a total dork. But even Saturday night, we got the sanctuary a good 50% full. And Sunday morning and evening was packed out.

In fact, Sunday morning, I remember coming down after singing to sit down for the sermon. By the time we all sorted ourselves out, my pew had about six people on it. Four of us were young adult age, all sitting together. And I remember looking across the row, noting that we all had our Bibles out, and three of us had notebooks and pens and were scribbling various notes here and there as we went.

Two thoughts occurred to me as this happened. First, is this just how people my age relate to learning things? We see/hear something interesting that we want to think about or whatever, and our first instinct is to catch it somehow. Video it, record it, write it down. Get it where it can't get away. Or has this just always been the case? (I don't think there's any big existential meaning behind the answer to this question. I'm just curious.)

Second, this is normal church for me, but how normal is it? Do people usually take notes? Young people? Do they keep their notes, like I do, in case they want to go over them later? Maybe I'm totally wrong, but I feel like this is unusual. I think most people would find a church with people busily scribbling sermon outlines into notebooks to be very strange. It's odd for me to think of this as odd, but I suspect that it is.

It was a good weekend, though. I learned a lot about Calvin (the guy), and the journey of the Calvinist theology from Geneva to Alabama. I just wish I could gauge my experience in terms of how unusual/ordinary it is. Not because I want to change how my church does things, but because I'm just curious how strange this really is.
Kelinci Hutan
An alternate title for this entry would be "Why People Who Claim that God is Different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Really Get On My Nerves!"

The title I did use is an abbreviated quote of Hebrews 13: 8. We are a few Sundays into a series on the Sermon on the Mount at church, and I think it's not entirely accidental that this comes right after our series on Joshua. For anyone who hasn't read Joshua, that's the book that covers Israel's conquest of the Promised Land, which means it's not exactly fun bedtime reading. Blood, violence, and slaughter everywhere. And I'm saying that that God, who authorized all that violence is the same God as Jesus is?!?

Yeah, I am.

First off, if you're reading the Bible honestly, you can't come to any other conclusion. Matthew 23: 23, for example, says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law..." Matthew 5: 17, 18 are the obvious picks. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Bear in mind, in both cases, these are red letter verses. Jesus himself is saying this. Jesus came and died for us. Hooray! That's worth getting very excited over. But, you don't get to just ignore the Old Testament or claim it "doesn't count" or that "God is different now." It's there, it does, and He isn't.

Second, God in the Old Testament is just as loving as He is in the New. Yes, even after reading about Jericho. Going back to Matthew 23: 23, the rest of the verse goes, "weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to ghave done, without neglecting the others." Jesus thinks the Old Testament law is justice, mercy, and faithfulness. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is famous, but less people know what prompted it. Luke 10: 25-28. "And behold, a lawyer stood up and put him to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How do you read it?' And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.' And he said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.'" Bear in mind, these guys are talking while Jesus is still performing His active ministry. They can only be talking about the Old Testament, as there is no New Testament at that point in time! The consensus of both parties on how to sum up the Old Testament is that God tells us to love people. Even people in the Old Testament felt God was loving then. Psalm 36: 7, 8. "How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light." Psalm 145: 8, 9. "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made." Old Testament people who didn't even know when the Messiah was coming, and had no idea what the New Testament would possibly look like thought God was loving! These are not the things that people write when they're crushed under the heel of an oppressive deity.

Third, God in the New Testament is just as wrathful as He is in the Old. Yeah, even after reading about Jesus. Romans 1: 18. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." Even Jesus curses people. Matthew 18: 5, 6. "Whoever recieves one such child in my name recieves me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Or again in Matthew 23: 32-36. "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation."

You can not pick bits of the Bible and say, "I only want these bits, since I don't like those." God is the same god in these bits you like as He is in those you don't. You must either take all of it, or none, but you can not pick and choose. He's the same God from beginning to end, and the whole Bible is saying this from beginning to end. The God who loves is the God who judges. I am so tired of listening to people try and ignore portions of His nature. If you reject some, you reject all. If you accept some, you accept all.
Location: Ivy Manor
Kelinci Hutan
10 March 2009 @ 10:53 pm
I have no idea why it seems important to me to post this, but I feel that I want to and so here we are.

I just added another bookmark into my Bible, which brings the total number of bookmarks I have in it up to four. Each one of them is a bit fun, I think, and I get a bit of satisfaction from having added a new one. I am organized and on top of things and able to quickly access the parts of my Bible that I will soon be returning to in the future.

Yay! (If you don't take joy in the little things, then you'll be waiting around forever to find things to take joy in, I feel. :)

Except that with my desire to get back on writing the Numbers book, I realized that there are instances where a bookmark will help you not at all. Like with the Numbers story. Because to get the information I will need, I'll be flipping around hither, thither, and yon in the book. And while a bookmark gets you to a certain point quickly, it also commits you to that spot. "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no other," says the bookmark. So I would be constantly moving it around, unable to decide where the bookmark should best be placed. The first of the pages I'd need? The current one? The most middle? The most frequently required? I suppose I could use a bookmark that covered several pages together. And a paperclip would probably be the most effective way to do that, but I can't put a paperclip in a Bible! That seems so tacky in my head.

I found a scenario in which a bookmark is completely unhelpful. Who could have imagined such a thing?
Mood: tired