Saturday, February 25, 2012

Define the Relationship

"DTR" is a phrase one of my younger relatives explained to me. It means "define the relationship," and my relative used it when talking about a male-female relationship: There comes a time when you have to define it (are we just friends? something more??)

Have you ever been asked the question, "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?" I'm sure a lot of people have. Well, it is a loaded question, partially because a lot of people feel like it is nobody's business but their own what they think about Jesus. That issue aside, my problem with the question is this-what does the person asking the question mean when he says "relationship with Jesus?" Initially, I think the question refers to the fact that all people, because of sin, need to be reconciled to God, through the death of the sinless Son of God, Jesus. However, many people get the relationship off on the wrong foot by thinking that it is dependent on their decision. Jesus initiates and does everything, because He lived the perfect life, paid the price for the sins of the world, and offers His Word of forgiveness. We are dead in our sins, and a corpse can not initiate any kind of relationship. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Another problem that can arise is that once a person receives the forgiveness of sins, he can think that the maintenance of the relationship depends on his obedience and growing in faith. Not so. The relationship is still dependent on Christ's forgiveness, and maintained by Christ's forgiveness. The Bible speaks of Jesus as the Christian's teacher, brother, and friend. We do not have to have a subjective, emotional encounter with Jesus to validate our Christianity. Many new Christian songs have lyrics that eerily remind me of romance, which points to the prevalence of this way of "defining the relationship." No. We do not measure our relationship with Jesus by comparing it to our concept of a satisfying relationship. We measure it by His forgiveness, given to us in His Word, given through the mouth of our pastor, given to us in our baptism, and given to us in communion. And yes, I meant to repeat the word "given." For with Jesus, what He has "given" is what "defines the relationship."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who am I?

This weekend I watched Iron Man 2 with John. I have to say that Iron Man is not my favorite superhero. Although the movie had an interesting plot, Iron Man himself is too cocky for my taste. His highest good is his own pleasure, not the good of others. I got to thinking about it, and decided that he is the perfect superhero for our time. Thinking highly of ourselves is currently promoted as a virtue, with the happiness of self as the ultimate goal. Yet the opposite of a narcissism is not "beating yourself up." That is still focusing on the self. Contrast this with humility, which is an honest self-assessment (which frees the person from self-obsession). So, who am I? I am a poor, miserable sinner, as well as a saint-forgiven by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and dearly loved by God. That is a self-assessment I can live with.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Congrats to John!

John won our homeschool group's spelling bee, and went on to be the first runner up at the local bee, held at an area middle school. Way to go, John!

I Just Don't Understand

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you. Psalm 71:5-6

What beautiful verses from God's Word. When I read them, I immediately thought of the notion that some people have that "we can't know when an embryo or fetus is really a human being, so we can not call abortion the taking of a human life." I can not wrap my mind around that notion. If a person believes that the Bible is really God's Word, and not just pious platitudes, how can he believe that abortion does not take a human life? If the author of this psalm (David), could say by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that before he was born he leaned on God, how could he not have been fully human before birth? Some might respond, "Well, that was later in the pregnancy, when he looked like a baby so we know he was human then." My response would be, "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?" (Romans 9:20). Shouldn't you be more careful of tampering with human life if you don't know when it begins? I believe that at the moment of conception, God has created a human life and we are not to tamper with it. But for those who don't have that aspect settled, I can not understand why they believe they get to decide at what point this new creation counts as human. I say this respectfully, not just "trying to be right" or trying to bring on "fire and brimstone." I speak as one in anguish that 1/3 of my generation has been snuffed out by abortion. The supposed "freedom" of abortion has done nothing but increase the number of abortions. That makes it way easier for a man to "have his cake and eat it to"-meaning, he gets to have sexual relations with a woman without having to take responsibility for the outcome. Overall, people have rejected the procreative aspect of marriage, and have separated sex from its natural outcome-children. What do we have now that we didn't have prior to the 1973 Roe Vs. Wade decision? More broken families, more children born to single mothers, and less children born overall (children who could be baptized into Christ, who could be filling churches, schools, and playgrounds, and could be contributing members of society-doing things such as paying into Social Security). I don't understand why no one talks about the negative affects that abortion has had on our society. I just don't understand.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Can you repent?

"Repentance is not a narrow gate through which a person has to squeeze. Repentance is something that God Himself must give to a person. Any kind of repentance that we produce ourselves is false and God is disgusted by it." -- C.F.W. Walther, "Law and Gospel"