Thursday, May 29, 2008

Subterranean river - vote

Hope you could vote for Puerto Princessa (Princess' Port) Subterranean River as one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Have you been to a subterranean river yet?

I have been to one, in New Zealand. It is part of a cave in the north island, south of Auckland. It was a fascinating and thrilling experience. At the roof of the underground river, you would see glow worms hanging off on the roof, they look small specs of greenish lights and so when you look up, they look like stars. These worms become moths without mouths and they live only for a few days (21 if my memory serves me right), they would mate and deposit their larvae onto the cave roof, then these moths die and the cycle rolls over again. The larvae are the glow worms.

This one in Puerto Princessa appears to be bigger and longer. She is 8kms long. Her current rank is 9th, so you can make her be part of the first 7 and perhaps one day you can even visit. I have been to Puerto Princessa, but not in the river, I have visited her satellite reef islands and walked on top of one of them. You can see clear water 30 feet down. Then little tropical fishes with loud colors, come around your toes and nibble at whatever they can - yes between your toes.
You can vote for Puerto Princessa here. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Prefer university education

I hope no one finds it weird that I would rather have a university education rather than a seminary one when it comes to doing ministry work.

If I were a young man going to ministry, I would rather go do some work on the original Biblical languages and hone in on those exegetical skills and then throw in some linguistics into the mix. In fact this is what I slightly did, I went for a so called Graduate Diploma in Religious Studies. The program is customized, so I elected to do Classic/Koine Greek and also Biblical Hebrew. Then I also threw in Early Judaistic studies into the mix. Here is one of the guys who taught me NT Greek. Then, I would recommend people to study the Scripture and the BoC a minimum of 2 years and then go for ordination.

Many folk in the faculty I belonged were liberals. I had a professor who was an expert in Aramaic and each time the OT mentioned what appeared to be a miracle, she turned around and gave a human explanation of it. This might be a cause of constipation[sic] for some but it challenged me to work on my research and scholarship methodology. They did respect you even though you wrote on your essays that their views were bunk and bull. That is the beauty of a university education, you are free to dump even your professor's opinions. You can tell them they are asses and it will be accepted so long as you have the arguments for it. Try doing that in seminary and you will be labelled "trouble maker" or "not very nice". What a university education gives is an even handed and balanced scholarship methodology that you will use for the rest of your life. It gives you a critical apparatus in your tool box.

This is why I like university education, because in the university you knew your "enemy"; in seminary education, you don't. University education does not tolerate in-breeding, but seminary education does. Also both university and seminary education are affected by some scholarly fad and some scholarly politics too. A university trained person will be aware of propaganda right away but this is hard to decipher in seminary. A university trained person will catch such anomalies not before long.

Let me be quick to say too that there are seasons I believe when seminaries turned up good men and faithful ministers, but it is a double edged sword. If the seminary professors are into some pre-occupation such as traditionalism, being enamoured with things Orthodox or Roman, into marketing etc. the result is devastating. In the university, the color of your professors are out in the open, in seminaries, their true colors are concealed.

What is more is that since seminary professors are isolated, by enlarge, they have no one to interact or challenge their views, they can go on with their self delusion without anyone checking them. Why? Because they are scholarly ghettos. This accidentally promotes in breeding, seminaries do not have an environment for new or challenging ideas, it is not nice to have them, so they are sometimes called 'sausage factories' (by some blogger).

I am not saying that seminary education is all bad, I am just saying there are some limitations and those who come out of them need to be aware of what they have received when they graduate.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What if

I read in Extreme Theology that Chris had an audience with Rick Warren. See here.

This is a good thing, it is good that Chris is reaching out to Warren. Who knows, Rick might one day realize the error of what he taught? We must never cancel people out, no one is beyond repentance. Who knows, maybe through such conversations, Rick might be brought by God's Word to see the man centered teachings found in his books.

So what if Rick disowns his teachings found in PDL?

What if Rick turns around and says "Forgive me, I have taught you folk a man centered, works oriented form of piety found in my books, so please burn them. I reject all the things I taught there, I was wrong"?

What's next?

Just thinking out loud, I guess some blogs would have to shut down, there would be no material to blog about.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prayer - by faith and not by works, also

Just some observations on prayer.

One of the most comforting thought in prayer is that God hears our prayer which are prayed according to His will and asked for the sake of Jesus.

It is most comforting to know that God listens to the prayer of a sinner, a sinner who trusts that God will answer, not on the basis of anything meritorious in him or in himself, but on the basis of the merits won by Christ on his behalf. This again anchoring our prayers on the promise of God, or through faith in Christ. Answers to our prayer is again through faith and not by works.

The answer to our prayer is also extra nos, outside of us.

God is glorified when we realize that our prayers, which he answers, have nothing to do with us but all have to do with what Jesus has done. They are answered for the sake of Christ who has won this favor from God on our behalf. This is most comforting and heart warming indeed so we can come with boldness to God. Because we do not stand on our own righteousness but of the righteousness freely given by Christ to us, his righteousness, there is all the confidence in the world we could ever need.

How quickly faith is turned to works when we end our prayers with - "we will do this and that etc etc". It is like bargaining with God or playing tit for tat, a kind of "God, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours" deal. Again, this becomes of works and not of faith. Those words sound pious but insulting to the grace of God.

Luther is sometimes shocking but when he says - God should save us from our good works, we can appreciate why he said that.

Heb 4:16(A) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Dear friend, know and believe that God answers your prayer because Christ has paid for your sins, you got nothing to give to God that he should listen to you, stop doing what has been done, rest and trust rather on what has been provided by God in Christ - for you. Rest your prayer on someone else's righteousness - that of Christ, you will be comforted to know God hears it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The time when you can still ask a girl to dance

Just bring'n some lovin today...

When I was a teen ager, the way they sponsor a dance was in a public or town basketball court. The court would be decorated all around and us guys would be sitting in one end of the court and the girls to the opposite side of the court. It was a great stress when I had to walk accross the court to invite a girl, who happened to be a stranger, to dance with me. When a girl happened to be tired, you walk back to your seat dejected.

The songs of these guys would permeate the dance court. Boy, did they have the grove. My buddies had lots of fun singing and copying those moves. Their song "you make me feel brand new", makes me feel very old. Here is one more..

Ah, yes, they don't do those moves anymore.

It is between me and ____

Individualism - that attitude of independence, self-reliance, liberty and responsibility, is also present amongst Christians. How do you detect this? Normally you detect this in statements like "it is between me and ____". You can fill in the blank. The blank may stand for "God" or may stand for another individual - a wife, a son, a husband, daughter and what have you.

Christians are into this, absolutely. Tell a Christian about a behavior that needs repenting and they can say - it is between me and God. Or maybe they need to stop treating their relations badly and they can say - it is between me and my wife.

What does it imply when someone says "it is between me and ___"? It means, bugger off, you are not involve here, it is none of your business and so shut up. There are incidences that this is true, indeed it may be none of our business. But if this individualism is allowed to stand, society will turn to anarchy. Individualism breeds anarchy, actually, it also builds confusion.

I tell you why individualism does not work, even on a human level. Let us assume that someone just killed or murdered somebody. If we respect individualism, the criminal can say -- bugger off, it is between me and him (the victim). I want to know what the police might say or do to such a person who is guilty of that offense? Will they say - "right, it is none of our business, off you go"?

A decent society, if it is still decent that is, will not accept, the philosophy - it is none of your business. The police intrudes and prosecutes. It is not the relations of the victim that does this prosecuting, it is the police. Decent societies do not allow you to say -- it is none of your business. No, rather, decent societies make injustice and oppression their business.

Genesis 4:

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not
know. Am I my brother’s keeper ?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All too easy

It is often amazing how easy it is to be a preacher or pastor in a non-denominational church.

Last week I was at a birthday party and we met a couple who had moved to another suburb. We got to talk about church topics and the wife inquired about a preacher who has been enjoining them to become a member of his congregation. It so happens I know the gentleman but not as a pastor at that time and I let her know of my aquaintance with the preacher. So she asked me what I thought. Well I did not beat around the bush and I just let her know of my amazement as to how easy it is for a person in a non-denominational church to become a pastor. I told her that I would rather come under the teaching/preaching of a man I knew who has studied and has the reputation of being a student of God's Word. I also said that pastoring is a dangerous business because souls are at stake, people's mental/emotional and most of all their spiritual well being are affected by what goes on in the pulpit. So I felt it immoral not to tell the truth of my opinion when I got asked. It would be so unfair to play politics at this stage. In fact the said gentleman had nothing but congenial relations with me in the past, but that is not the point, the issue is doctrine/belief and competence.

It is astounding today how one can set up shop, hire a hall, a function room or get a vacant warehouse and turn it into a church. It is thoroughly amazing how one could get a people together and self elect one's self to be their spiritual leader (hence, pastor) and the remarkable thing is --- people go and become part of that congregation!

We would not go to a doctor who had not been properly trained in medicine and take prescription from them, would we? Yet people go to would be - pastors who had no training except the boast that they have the gifts of the Spirit and annointed by God to preach. We go to people whose authority is nothing but their own testimony! It is only in evangelical Christianity that one can stand in an office of preacher without proper qualifications. Goodness, if you practice law without a license from the bar, you would be jailed, but this does not happen in Christianity. This is way too easy! As Jesus said -- broad is the way to you know where.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hides, but no, it reveals

It has been said that vestments were worn by preachers in the good old days to hide them, so that the people do not get to focus on them while they preached. That is, so that they do not attract attention to themselves.

Hmmm, tell me if a vestment so elaborate will not gain attention. Look at the sample here, look at the gold and glits.

Actually vestments may not hide the preacher, rather it reveals his character, it invariably speaks of his personality. When a preacher is more interested in what he should wear on Sunday, (s most high church nuts are like that) rather than what he is supposed to say, it does not hide his character, it actually reveals it.

Take the cue from Balaam's ass. The smelly ass had more sense and truth to say compared to the falsehood spewed out by the prophet.

I am glad PB (you know who you are) is not obsessed with what he should wear but worries more as to what he should say. God bless you bro.

Just another self-absorbed boomer

Hagibis - the Filipino word for being rapid or swift. When I got this machine last Saturday, that is what the missus called the whole affair. The machine gave me a good enjoyable ride, it was swift yet smooth. However, the process of buying this machine revealed certain things about me. I am not so sure if what I have found is something I am happy about, I got the word "idolatry" spinning in my brain. The whole process showed things that went inside my heart, what went on inside me.

For starters, it confirmed to me that I am a self absorbed baby-boomer, I am still intent on re-living or realizing some old teen-age dreams. What's up with us baby-boomers, why are we like that? They say what separates men from boys is the cost of their toys.

After taking this bike home, I sat down that night to reflect on what has just happened. What kind of example have I just given my kids? I felt so ashamed of this. How could I do this when I know there are folk around the world, my neighbor, who do not even have something to eat. I just insulted them. The brat is still alive and well and as I grow older, it reveals itself to me, and I wish it would die. Yesterday, I felt like returning the bike to the dealer. If I was not locked in legally, I would have asked them to take it back; of course, they would not return my deposit. Boomers are into symbols - this one is now a symbol of my shame. I was mumbling - I am so sorry, God, forgive me. How could I be like that? I am so sorry for my example, deeply sorry. Lord, have mercy on me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Funny part

The last few posts have been controversial so I got back to reading the Smalcald articles. A few days ago, I got to this portion of Article IV…

16] For in the Council we will stand not before the Emperor or the political
magistrate, as at Augsburg (where the Emperor published a most gracious edict, and caused matters to be heard kindly [and dispassionately]), but [we will appear] before the Pope and devil himself, who intends to listen to nothing, but merely [when the case has been publicly announced] to condemn, to murder and to force us to idolatry. Therefore we ought not here to kiss his feet, or to say: Thou art my gracious lord, but as the angel in Zechariah 3, 2 said to Satan: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan.

I cracked up laughing when I read the quote from Zechariah. I mean, the irony, if that is what you can call it is so funny. Luther has a way with words. Tappert had a footnote that there was an addition in some versions wherein Luther added– shame on you.

I am sure you do not share my dry, weird and sick sense of humor but I could not wipe off the grin from my face each time I recall this quote… sorry, I meant no offense, I just found this part of Luther’s Smalcald cleverly devised, really funny...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Kathlic, what Walther wrote.

To some Lutherites the word 'kathlic' is so precious, so much so that papists ministers play on this word to say that they have more things in common with Rome than anyone else. "Common" is a relative term, as in the phrase "common sense". Frankly "common sense", is not as common as some people think it is. The poor sheep is led to believe because they (the Lutherites and Catholic) look the same, and sound the same (say in worship), that their words must mean the same!

Here is what Walther said about Lutherans being 'kathlic'. You can check the full article here.

Now perhaps others will say: "So you don't want that! Fine, then call yourselves Catholic. But to this suggestion we say: God forbid! Indeed the laughable accusation is often made against Lutherans that they are very much like the Catholics. but who was it that first in public writings truly attacked the Roman papacy as the chair of the antichrist. revealed it to all the world, mortally wounded and killed it? Was it Zwingli? Was it Calvin? Was it Wesley? Wasn't it our Luther? Did not all other true and supposed reformers continue the attack on the enemy from within the fortress which Luther had taken in the heat of battle? How could Lutherans call themselves "Catholic" when the archenemy of the Lutheran church calls himself by this name so that with this beautiful name he might hold captive the consciences of the souls freed by Christ? For indeed the name "Catholic" is a glorious name for it means the universal Christian church which was established by the apostles and spread out upon all the earth outside of which there is no salvation. Obviously no one can be a Christian who would not confess himself as belonging to the church which is catholic or universal in the truth. And there was a time when the true church used this name and with this name separated herself from all false doctrines and their sects. And it has a glorious sound. How wonderful the name catholic sounds. For example, in the mouth of Athenasius or Augustine when they use it against the sects of the Arian, the Donatists and others. How glorious the name rings in the time of the Roman bishop Gregory the Great who completely rejected the title of the universal bishop of Christianity. Gregory wrote to Eulogius, bishop of Alexandria among other things: "You allowed a haughty designation in the title
of your letter in that you grant me the title of the universal pope. I ask that hence forth you do no such thing." (L. VIII. ep. 30). In another place this Roman bishop (who died in 604 AD) wrote that until his time no Roman bishops had been willing to carry this title for fear that the true faith would be lost and a bishop would become the forerunner of the antichrist. While the bishops of Rome still wrote in this manner and were appalled that by accepting the title of universal bishop over all Christianity Christ, who is the true head of the entire church, would be robbed of his honor - at that time there was still a true church which called itself the catholic or universal church. But what is the meaning of the word "Catholic Church" now? It is the fellowship of those who recognize the bishop of Rome as the head of the church, as standing in the place of Christ and God himself. They recognize him as infallible and give his commands unconditional obedience. They must therefore worship all the unquestionable errors of the papacy such as: the sacrifice of the Mass, praying to the saints, purgatory, the worship of images and relics, the pope's indulgence, human works unto salvation and self chosen works, the forbidding of the bible and marriage, tradition or the unwritten Word of God, compulsory fasts etc. etc. which all the confessions and catechisms of the new Roman Catholic Church teach along with the explicit explanation that outside of this faith no one can be saved. (Prof. fid. cath. e Conc. Trid. a S.P. Pio IV extracta, No. 28) Since from this it is now clear that the name "Catholic" has a new meaning, namely the Roman papacy with all its atrocities and in no way the universal Christian Church, and thus indicates a sect, obviously no one who recognizes the Word of God as the true rule of the Christian faith can trouble us to use this name.

This is one of Walther's best comments. I have his Law and Gospel book and I find very little success in testing my scepticism on what he wrote there. My skepticism often goes home, licked. I am sure I will find something I can disagree with, I have one but this is not one of them.

Here is my observation. Poping groups will first stress that you are a small c "catholic". Since they have the sophistic mentality already in place, it won't be long until the small c gets played up in the discussion and with a slight of word usage, you are now no longer talking about being small c "catholic", you are now transitioned to the big C, "Catholic". If that word is so precious to you and you idolized that word such that you must have it, well, I can only say, you are on your way to home sweet Rome.

I like what Pr. Mark said to me (one of our LCA pastors) on this blog and what Pr. Brett (my pastor) said in discussion: one day, they may even deny us the name Lutheran, and we would not even be shocked or awed or sorry for it. Why? Because we are not into a name, we are into the Gospel, it does not matter what they call or do not call us. When people are into JBFA i.e. the Gospel, they do not quibble about their labels, they are just convenient terms for quick positional identification and location.

It is not the name that counts but the meaning of what is behind it. That is the question.