Thursday, May 23, 2013

The pope said what?

According to this HuffPo article the new pope of the Catholic church is playing fast and loose with Scripture and the most basic central doctrines of Christianity.

from the article:

"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can... "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!".. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
I'm not sure where he gets the idea that faithful Christians can't accept an unbeliever can "do good." Of course many atheists and people of many faiths have and continue to donate to charity, serve in soup kitchens, adopt orphans and care for widows. People from all walks of life have the ability and freedom to do good works and evil works.

At issue here is whether or not those works count for anything in God's eyes apart from Christ. Is it possible to be good enough? Can we quantify exactly how much good is required? 
In Isaiah 64:5-6 we read "You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways...We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment."
According to these verses, it seems at first as though we can "work righteousness" but then we are told that all our righteous deeds are like a "polluted garment." We know the Old Testament contains the old law under which the Israelites were held. It was a way to actually quantify just how good one would have to be in order to stand righteous before God. Its job was to ultimately prove to mankind that we are not capable to uphold that law, or be "good enough" for God.
Jesus told a young man in Mark 10:18 that "no one is good except God alone." 

Martin Luther (not that I agree with him in every subject) said, “The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man is that somehow he can make himself good enough to deserve to live forever with an all-holy God.”

"Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:8

So what is our hope? How can we become good or truly do good? Our hope is Christ. 
" yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." Galatians 2:16
 Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Of course the Bible teaches that Christ died for all, but it also teaches that we must believe and obey him. This is Christianity 101. For the pope (or any self-proclaimed 'Christian') to suggest that unbelieving, unrepentant people are going to be redeemed by the blood of Christ by "doing good" is works based salvation. 
 "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." Galatians 2:21
I don't think you'll find the pope willing to state that Christ died for no purpose, however his statements lead to that conclusion. Unless I've utterly misinterpreted the pope.

And atheists apparently will be dragged off to Heaven against their will by virtue of having been charitable enough in this life? Read your Bibles. "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." Romans 11:6 
Don't get your "truth" from fallible man (yes, not even the 'pope') Get your truth from the Bible, the word of God, which "is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16-17

I am aware that even among Christians, much debate can be had over the dichotomy of works and grace in relation to salvation. I don't want to fuel that debate, but rather warn against ignoring Scripture entirely in order to justify a universalist point of view in which one simply must be a little better than one's neighbor in a never ending relative scale of "goodness."
Atheists, take note: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life....Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16, 18

Join me in praying that friends and loved ones and people around the world will look to God's word for truth and wisdom, and that they will ultimately choose to "be buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Beautiful Butterflies

Yesterday our family decided to seize the day with a trip to our local Krohn Conservatory to enjoy the annual springtime butterfly show.

The first time we went was four years ago when I was pregnant with our first child.
This year was especially fun because she is now old enough to take in the sights and study the beautiful creatures a little more closely.





 My son even got close enough to take a good look at them, with a deep furrowed brow of course.
He isn't so fond of bugs right now.

 Our youngest enjoyed her view from the Ergo carrier. (affiliate link)







Nothing deep to report other than to share a nice spring afternoon with you all. What kinds of spring traditions do you keep?


Urgency

A couple weeks ago I was enjoying a cup of coffee and reading some of my favorite blogs when an alarm sounded on my (new) phone. I had been using a phone that displayed upcoming calendar events on the home screen, but recently switched to one that does not. I picked up the phone to read the notification and was surprised to see the words "Pediatrician appt. 1:10pm."

Care to guess what time it was when I got this alarm? 1:00pm. I'll go ahead and admit to you all that my kids were still in pajamas at this time. As I turned into a blur of clothes gathering and key finding madness, the three littles and I made it out the door and to the office by 1:20. I was actually quite impressed with myself at the time, but I doubt I could replicate it. It helps that the doctor's office is less than two miles away.

The sense of urgency that overcame me in that moment of seeing the calendar reminder pop up on my screen was intense. This was just an ordinary well check for my five month old at an office less than two miles from my house on a Tuesday afternoon. However, simply by forgetting about the obligation, I subjected myself to stress.

Stress can lead down a few different roads. One reaction can be to shut down and claim defeat. I could have called the office to reschedule or cancel the appointment, but I was concerned I might be charged for a last minute cancellation. Depending on the situation in life, giving up might not be an option. Such is the case with our Christian lives and Christian parenting. Giving up would mean not caring about eternity.

Another reaction to stress is to step into high gear and get to work. Stress can be a motivator.
That sense of urgency I experienced became a very powerful tool in streamlining my priorities for getting out the door. I wasn't going to mess with make up or making sure the childrens' clothes matched perfectly. Thankfully with a nursling, there is precious little to pack for an outing other than diapers and something to catch drool with. The toddlers seemed to sense that I meant business when I said "shoes on!" and "get straight to your car seats!"

I won't go so far as to claim that every trip out could go so smoothly if only I acted in a hurry. I give thanks that we made good time to the office, that baby girl received a good medical review and no meltdowns occurred. It seems to make sense, though, that the sincere urgency with which I mobilized my household helped us meet our goal that time.

I wonder if we recognize the urgency in our lives when it comes to focusing on the spiritual battle before us. Every now and then, I read something that brings the reality of our condition into such painfully clear focus that my heart skips a beat. The blood drains from my face suddenly and that hot streak of fear shoots up my spine. Urgency. The clarity blinds all else from my sight. Suddenly I wonder how I could ever go one moment without these thoughts pulsing right beneath the dinner plans and the doctor appointments and the sweeping and the diapers and...

before I know it, I've gone just long enough to forget again.

"Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons." Deuteronomy 4:9

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Open Season and Double Schooling

Ready to throw some tinfoil hats at me?

America is declaring open season on Christians.
"So President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime--possibly resulting in imprisonment--for those in uniform to share their faith. This would include chaplains—military officers who are ordained clergymen of their faith (mostly Christian pastors or priests, or Jewish rabbis)--whose duty since the founding of the U.S. military under George Washington is to teach their faith and minister to the spiritual needs of troops who come to them for counsel, instruction, or comfort."
As disturbing as this is, I am not in the military, so I have another angle.
This same government that is seeking counsel from such extreme anti-Christian activists to develop military policy is the same government that is running our schools.

Christians- it is time to take your children out of the hands of the government.

This same government has already begun to implement new standards in education called Common Core which is centralizing authority on matters of education to the federal government. This is more ground being given to an inferior method of education that somehow still passes the majority of our nation's children through its bowels each year. (Nice imagery there, eh?) Millions of parents don't so much as pause to consider whether they will send their children to school or not. As Christians, I believe we ought to give the utmost consideration to this decision. As Cindy said so well in this post on the subject of educational responsibility:

 "We, parents, have the God-given responsibility for bringing up our children. All of the rights inherent in that responsibility accrue to us as well. We have a responsibility to hand over those rights to others only very, very carefully.
What I see, though, is that we tend to treat that transfer of rights as if it were less important even than who changes our oil! If a mechanic were to tell me that he had changed my oil, but I found, after driving away with a dry engine and destroying the motor, that he had failed to actually put more oil in, I’d go somewhere else the next time, wouldn’t I? That’s just a rational reaction. He destroyed my car!
How is it that schools, somehow, aren’t held to the same kind of standard, even though our children are infinitely more important than our cars?"
One particularly short sighted defense I often hear to justify sending our children to school is that we will still have time outside of school hours to achieve our personal educational goals. A few problems exist with this theory:

1. Competing for Authority. After spending 7 or so hours per day with an authority other than yourself, will your child still see you as the primary instructor in their life? A lot of variables to consider there, but in my personal experience, public education was a factor in causing me to see teachers as more ultimate authorities on facts and knowledge than my parents.
2. Competing for Time. Public schools are structured to be able to teach a large number of children of varying abilities the required subjects in a standardized way. The "school day" for children feels a lot like a "work day" for an adult. How many adults do you know that like to come home from a long day of work to... work some more? Again, my personal experience with public schooling was that when I came home, I was "done" learning for the day. A lot more could be said about that and learning as a lifestyle, etc. Suffice it to say, your public schooled child will most likely not want to come home from class to have class with his parents in any regimented fashion. And if you're going to go that far anyway, why not just do it yourself in the first place?
3. Competing Ideologies. It's no secret that public schools teach a very humanistic viewpoint. Allowing this indoctrination to take place unanswered is what many parents in this country are doing. Some, however, recognize the need to use the "find and replace" function of their parenting software to tweak that public education to fit their personal ideologies. Guess how confusing it is as a youngster to be consistently given contradictory information... Go ahead, think about it. Does that instill much confidence in a young mind? In the tenth grade I had a terrible math teacher that spent a day or two teaching us how to solve a certain type of equation, only to tell us on day three that she had taught us wrong, and we needed to relearn it the right way before the test on Friday. Competing thoughts are distracting, and hinder our ability to internalize truth. There eventually comes a time when a foundation has been laid that an individual can more adequately receive alternative viewpoints, consider them, weigh the facts and make informed decisions about them.

Do you really want to have to try to get your children to unlearn their school day (or parts of it) and relearn with you over dinner every day? And if you can do that successfully and with any regularity, congratulations- you are double schooling! Doesn't home schooling (also known as single schooling at home) sound so much simpler now?