Category Archives: general

Were Puritans So Dour?

The Puritans

We’ve all been taught that the Puritans were a dark, dismal bunch.  Our teachers lied to us:

Contrary to popular impression, the Puritan was no ascetic.  If he continually warned against the vanity of the creatures as misused by fallen man, he never praised hair shirts or dry crusts.  He liked good food, good drink and homely comforts; and while he laughed at mosquitoes, he found it a real hardship to drink water when the beer ran out.

The Puritan Family:  Religion and Domestic Relations in 17th Century New England, Edmund Morgan.

John Owen

John Owen, probably the greatest Puritan theologian, would walk through Oxford ‘hair powdered, cambric band with large costly band strings, velvet jacket, breeches set round at knees with ribbons pointed, and Spanish leather boots with cambric tops.’

The Unquenchable Flame:  Discovereing the Heart of the Reformation, Michael Reeves

Fail Not, Every Night, to Pass an Inquisition on Your Soul

Fail not, what employment soever you have, every night, as in the presence of God and His holy angels, to pass an inquisition on your soul, what ill it hath done, what good it has left undone; what slips, what fall, it has had that day; what temptations have prevailed upon it, and by what means or after what manner.

Ransack every corner of thy dark heart; and let not the least peccadillo, or kindness to a sin, lurk there; but bring it forth, bewail it, protest against it, detest it, and scourge it by a sever sorrow. Thus, each day’s breach between God and your soul being made up, with more quiet and sweet hope thou mayest dispose thyself to rest.

Certainly at last this inquisition, if steadily persued, will vanquish all customary sins, whatever they may be. I speak it upon this reason, because I presume thou wilt not have the face to appear before God every night confessing the same offense; and thou wilt forbear it, lest thou mayest seem to mock God, or despise Him, which is dreadful but to imagine.

-Alexander Whyte, The Duty of Prayer, p. 241

Thanks to 5 Pt. Salt for their post – “Why We Fail To Examine Our Hearts

Atheist Billboard in Chicago

Atheist Billboard in Downtown Chicago
Atheist Billboard in Downtown Chicago

A billboard in the middle of downtown Chicago asks:

Are You Good Without God?

Millions Are.

The Chicago Coalition for Reason, who put the board up, describes themselves as:

An exciting group of organizations in the Chicago area, each of which celebrates a human-centered and naturalistic approach to life. For us, non-dogmatic and rational approaches to ethics, culture and the human experience are the most meaningful and satisfying.

As to the goals, the group thinks:

No reaction might be a good reaction.

“If Christians (or whomever) don’t react, that means atheism is becoming more acceptable in society. Which is great. If they do react, then what exactly are they opposed to?”

This is all part of the New Atheism, which is extremely evangelistic, and believes in proselytism more than most Christians I know – which ought to make us examine our zeal … or lack thereof. Though I have to admit, that my first reaction to the billboard isn’t shock. Most of the people I know and have grown up around are atheists, it isn’t exactly countercultural. Atheism has been the norm for a long time in the West.

A much more shocking billboard would be:

Do you know how much you need God?

HT: The Chicagoist

The Little Things

Whom Do You Fear?

I hope, for her sake, that she doesn’t get trapped in a cycle of craving approval and fearing rejection. It’s a nasty spin cycle of confusion and hurt. Seeking approval from everyone in our orbit is akin to the nauseating dizziness a dancer experiences when she does not keep her eyes on one object as she twirls. Just as dancers are taught to spot, Christians are also taught by God’s Word to spot. The Bible tells us that we are to keep our eyes on the Lord and seek His approval only.

Being conscious of God’s approval or His displeasure is what the Bible calls “fear of the Lord.” It means to be in awe of, or to respect, more than merely to be afraid. Conversely, what we now call peer pressure, people-pleasing, or co-dependency is what the Bible calls “fear of man.” In a nutshell, the fear of man can either be a fear of what others think of us or will do to us, or a craving for approval and a fear of rejection.

via Whom Do You Fear? at Boundless.

The Bride Was Beautiful

A Stunning Photo Spread:

Katie Kirkpatrick, 21, held off cancer to celebrate the happiest day of her life. Katie had chased cancer, once only to have it return-to clog her lungs and grab hold of her heart. Breathing was difficult now, she had to use oxygen. The pain in her back was so intense it broke through the morphine that was supposed to act as a shield. Her organs were shutting down but it would not stop her from marrying Nick Godwin, 23, who was in love with Katie since 11th grade.

Click to see the incredibly moving presentation.

NPPA: Best of Photojournalism 2006: Still Photography Winners: Enterprise picture story

Stalin’s Destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior

Some footage of the Cathedral Christ the Savior being destroyed on Stalin’s command.  The cameraman who filmed it speaks about how he thought it was great blasphemy, but couldn’t refuse the order:

German family claim asylum in US over home schooling – Telegraph

It’s hard to believe that when I was a child, in the early 1980s, it was still illegal in much of America to home school your children.  Apparently, it still is in Germany, and one couple is seeking refugee status:

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children, aged from three to 11, will appeal to a court on Thursday in Tennessee, where they fled after attempts by German police three years ago to force the family to obey the country’s laws which make school attendance compulsory.

When the Romeikes refused to comply with repeated orders to comply with the law, police came to their home and took the children, crying and upset, to school.

German family claim asylum in US over home schooling – Telegraph.

A Boomer in the Pew

A Boomer in the Pew is celebrating his one-year anniversary.  To do so, he’s employing an interesting turn on a tradition.  Instead of all his readers sending him a gift, he’s offering a gift to his readers:

One of you, my loyal “Boomer in the Pew” readers, is going to win this beautiful premium calfskin leather version of the new ESV Study Bible!

Boomer has some great posts, and explains why he started his blog a year ago:

My life has been primarily centered around building and selling a successful business.  Now I find myself in my early 50’s, semi-retired and asking myself lots of questions.

The first thing that I noticed, after selling my business, was that along with it went my “significance”.  I was shocked to find out how much of my self-worth was tied up in my ability to run a successful business.  Frankly, I was really more embarrassed.  I am certain that my Heavenly Father isn’t going to say “well done” for running a successful business.

In the business world I was able to rub shoulders with very successful people from all over the country.  I quickly learned that after the seminar was over,  the real talking started around the dinner table.  I gleaned that many successful business owners have been in such a pursuit of riches that they haven’t taken the time to see the HUGE hole that was in their hearts.  Behind them was left a trail of broken marriages, alcoholism, and great despair.

I also learned that my Christian diet consisted of oatmeal.  It is time for me to start eating “meat” so that I can have an impact in these peoples lives.  This is the desire of my heart.

Broken and Born Again

Our culture of celebrity fascination thrives on the fact that there are beautiful, rich people who have everything and lead the lives that we all want.  They go to the best parties, drive the best cars, have huge houses, eat the best food, and date the hottest people.  Even when things go wrong, it’s spectacular.  I mean, who hasn’t, from time to time, wanted to shave all their hair and wear a pink wig? Then show ’em all two years later with a comeback!

What we don’t see is the hurt, and the loneliness.  More often than not, the most famous, the most popular people in the world are broken inside.  They have literally everything that this world can offer.  Like Solomon, they’ve tried it all – and nothing satisfies.  Celebrities suffer from the same issues as all of us.  In fact, they’re often magnified because of the pressure and spotlight put on them.

I may not know you personally, but I do know there is a sense of loneliness inside every man and woman. Everyone is lonely, deep down inside. Even if you are married or have lots of friends, there is still a deep-seated loneliness inside of you. Sometimes it sweeps over you when you are surrounded by people. What it really is is a loneliness for God.

And not only is everyone lonely, but everyone feels guilty – guilty about something they have said or done and now regret. It’s a guilt that is hard to shake. It can’t be drowned in drink or psychoanalyzed away.

That’s where much of the extravagance and acting out comes from.  What do you do when you have access to everything, and you still want more?  You go more and more extreme.  Britney’s breakdown was actually a pretty understandable reaction to the pressure cooker that she was put in.  She was broken.  Though she had everything in the world, she didn’t have the one thing that would make her whole.  Like all of us, she needs God, and to be born again.

“Born Again” has been so overused in our culture that it’s become a catchphrase, losing in large part it’s original meaning.  For non-Christians, it means “crazy, radical, extreme Christians.”  You’ll hear things like, “Oh, he’s a ‘born-again’ Christian.”  As if there are “non-born-again” Christians.  For those familiar with Christianese, it means “someone who has said the prayer of acceptance and become a believer.”  While the second definition is much closer to the truth, it still misses the deeper meaning.  Greg Laurie has put up a nice summation of what it means to be “born again:”

The Bible talks about a man who was very aware of his mortality. He was someone who had climbed his corporate ladder, if you will, a man who was powerful, successful, famous and wealthy. He was also devout, religious. Yet there was a hole in his heart that he didn’t know how to fill. He had heard about a rabbi named Jesus who was performing miracles, giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, healing leprosy and even raising the dead. No one had ever heard of such things. But most significantly, the things Jesus said were changing the lives of people.

Nicodemus came to Jesus respectfully looking for answers, and Jesus cut to the chase: “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NLT). In other words, “Let me just get to the bottom line with you, Nicodemus. You need to be born again.”

The problem today is that we don’t know what this phrase means anymore. The term “born again” has been pirated, emptied of its meaning, dragged through the gutter and given back to us, minus its power. Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Literally, it means to be born from above. It is a change on the inside.

God loves you, no matter what you have done, no matter what sins you have committed, and no matter how many failures you have had. God loves you. And He will change you.

But to believe not only means to take hold of something; it also means to let go. To let go of the sin that separates you from God is called repentance. The Bible says of this, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV).

We are all broken in one way or another.  We are all lonely, and we all feel guilty.  We try to escape it, drown it, forget.  We think the things of this world, if only we had more and better, would fill that void.  History and the news are full of people who’ve tried – and failed spectacularly.

Jesus is the Great Physician, the Great Healer.  Many take this at its physical meaning.  God can, and sometimes does, heal our physical ailments.  But more importantly, he heals our hearts, he heals our souls.  It’s only when I’ve been completely broken that I understood the power and meaning of born again, and the healing and restoration that God offers to us all.