Monday, November 29, 2010
In anticipation of the release of the film "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", here are a few choice C.S. Lewis quotes for you to amaze your friends and confound your enemies with this week.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen - not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time whether waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God– it changes me.”
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.”
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
“I gave in, and admitted that God was God.”
“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving
By John Stossel
Had today's political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow's holiday would have been called "Starvation Day" instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn't be alive to celebrate it.
Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.
Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.
The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally. That's why they nearly all starved.
When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.
"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, [I] [with the advice of the chiefest among them] gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."
In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.
"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many."
Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.
What Plymouth suffered under communalism was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. The problem has been known since ancient Greece. As Aristotle noted, "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."
If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free-rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty.
What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.
Secure property rights are the key. When producers know their future products are safe from confiscation, they take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible. That's the lost lesson of Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
If you're a male in Liberia, your life expectancy at birth is 39 years. If you're a woman in Japan, you'll live more than twice that long, about 85 years. But no matter who you are or where you're born, the mortality rates is still 100%. As Scripture says, "It is appointed once for man to die" and "the wages of sin is death."
We all face an end— personal, national, global, universal. But then what? What comes after the end?
"Eschatology" (Greek for end times) teaches us that humanity's end is not the ultimate end.
The God who created the world and saved the world will bring about its restoration.
What began in the Garden of Eden will become Eden restored.
This hope is found in the OT prophets. Isaiah declares that God will "create a new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65). Jesus also speaks of the Christian hope of cosmic renewal. He describes redemption "drawing near" for "the whole earth".
Old and New Testament believers have confessed this "blessed hope" down through the centuries.
In the Apostles' Creed we confess " He shall come to judge the living and the dead."
In the Nicene Creed, we state Jesus shall "come again in glory to judge the living and the dead."
And in the Lord's Prayer we pray that God's kingdom would come "on earth as it is in heaven."
CS Lewis has a good analogy of the end - he speaks of it as actors in a play. We don't know everything about the play, whether we're in the first or last act, or which characters play the minor and major roles.
We really have no idea when the end of the play will come. But the plot will find its fulfillment, even if our understanding right now is limited. The Author will fill us in after it is over, but for now, "playing it well is what infinitely matters."
(from journey with jesus)
Monday, November 15, 2010
This coming Sunday is the Last Sunday of the Church Year. The old has gone, the new has come. Soon we will start a new church year which begins with the first Sunday of Advent.
I was reminded again of the importance of the liturgical calendar on finding these "5 Reasons for Church Year Spirituality" from the Internet Monk....
1. It enables us to live in God's Story
2. It keeps the main thing the main thing
3. It recognizes one's calendar forms one's life
4. It links personal spirituality with worship, family, and community
5. It provides a basis for unity for all Christians everywhere
Here also are the colors of the Church year, and why they are used for different times. Just as Joseph had a coat of many colors, so does the Church celebrate our Lord's life as a coat of many colors too!
Blue is the color of the sky, our eternal hope. Thus it is especially associated with Advent, with Christ’s coming to bring us to our home in heaven. In the church’s art, the color blue is also closely associated with the Virgin Mary, and thus the tie in to Advent is also obvious.
Purple is the ancient color of royalty. It has become in the Church colors associated with our Lord’s Passion, and hence, with the season of Lent: Matthew 27; Mark 15.
Black is the color of darkness, of death, of ashes, of sorrow and grief. It is used on Days of Penitence and Prayer in the Church and can be used on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Esther 4:1; Daniel 9:3; Micah 3:6; Matthew 27:45.
White is upon the altar throughout the season of Easter and at Christmastime and on All Saints.
White symbolizes perfection, celebration, divinity, joy. Mark 9; John 20; Revelation 7.
Red, the color of blood (Revelation 6:7) and of fire, is used in the Church whenever she celebrates the days of martyrs (who shed their blood for Christ) or on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended in tongues as of fire and on “churchy” occasions: dedication of church or ordination. Red reminds us of the famous saying: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
Green is the most widely used color of the Church year, it’s “ordinary color” if you will. Green signfies growth and we stay green and fruitful as we live our lives by the streams of God’s Word and Sacraments: Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17; John 15; Rev. 22
Through her creative use of color, the Church seeks to raise our hearts and minds to the wonderful things that our God has done for us in Jesus Christ; to call us to repentance; to keep us mindful of the Word of God that keeps us in saving faith; to help us together proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!
Friday, November 12, 2010
The fall quarter Greek students make the traditional jump into the seminary fountain at Concordia Seminary after finishing their test. This will be the last time any class jumps into this fountain as renovations to the campus next year will mean the removal of this fountain.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
On the historic church calendar, today is the day of St. Martin of Tours. Born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around AD 316, Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). Coming to the Christian faith as a young person, he began a career in the Roman army. But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was ‘Christ’s soldier. Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel….
Hundreds of years later, on St. Martin’s Day in 1483, the one-day-old son of Hans and Margarette Luther was baptized and given the “Martin Luther.”
(from the meyer minute)
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
In the 5th century a debate arose between Pelagius, a British monk, and Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. They disagreed over the relationship between human nature after the Fall, as well as saving grace in Jesus Christ.
Pelagius rejected the doctrines of original sin, substitutionary atonement, and justification by faith. Pelagius emphasized unconditional free will and the ability to better oneself spiritually without grace. This was in direct contrast to Augustine, who believed that humanity was completely helpless in Adam’s sin and in desperate need of grace.