On the plus side, the forsythia and the daffodils are blooming, and those are two flowers that mean spring business. The days certainly are warmer and the birds have returned to adorn the trees with color and song.The best part is that IF snow falls, it's always gone by the next day. The temperatures rebound.
I love flowers. Tremendously. If you look closely at a flower, its delicacy and beauty are a never ending marvel. In my yard there are tiger lilies, rhododendron, roses, forsythia, daffodils, magnolia blossoms, pear blossoms, morning glories, the usual southern wildflowers such as bluebells, crimson bee balm, white clover, asters, snowdrops, and there used to be a huge five-o'clock-flower bush. This photo is from the five o'clock flower bush. Its stripe is perfectly placed, and yet other blossoms on the same bush might have different colored stripes in different locations. The delicate stamens seem to be reaching for the sun, like we do when emerging from the house on a day after a long winter and we turn our faces to the sun for a moment and bask.
I started watching The Story of Maths, a documentary about how mathematics was developed and used throughout history. The title even states that it's the 'language of the universe'. The opening lines of the BBC Documentary-
Throughout history, humankind has struggled to understand the fundamental workings of the material world. We've endeavored to discover the rules and patterns that determine the qualities of the objects that surround us, and their complex relationship to us and each other. Over thousands of years, societies all over the world, have found that one discipline above all others yields certain knowledge about the underlying realities of the physical world.We know that the Bible yields certain knowledge, but math is a language of God and He uses its pattern and order to beautiful and astounding effect in our world and the universe. It is an interesting documentary, even to me who seems very likely to have dyscalculia.
The first episode deals with the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Though the Bible is not mentioned, any person having a Biblical worldview will see immediately how unified the universe is and that it's math that permeates it because God is orderly and so is His creation. Knowing the Egyptian and Babylonian cultures from reading the Bible, it makes for a fascinating documentary to see how, for example, the Egyptians dealt with the twice annual Nile floods and having as a result to re-organize the parcels of land and their attendant taxes. Up next will be the Greeks and then I hope Fibonacci when they cover medieval maths.
Flowers are mathematical. How? Watch the video! (On Netflix and all 4 parts free on Youtube)
Yesterday I was asked to research what "Dominionism" is, and today on the Berean Research Twitter stream, I saw this. Rather than duplicate their good work, which mine would not be as concise and well-written, I refer you to this essay which explains it so well. Included in the explanation is New Apostolic Reformation information, who the leaders of this movement are, and what they believe. There are also extra links.
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a dominionist movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle.
Here are a couple of good photo memes I came across this week.
Have you experienced a sermon where the pastor does that? I have, in several different churches. It seems pandemic that the pastor is a roving storyteller on stage. In one case, the long anecdotes delivered from the wandering preacher were not even his own but were stories plagiarized from another pastor's life and told as if they were his own.
God said of those kinds of pastors,
Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. (Jeremiah 23:30).
God said of worthless shepherds who do not feed the flock,
"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!" says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: "You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings," says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2)
I am currently blessed with a pastor who stands, at a real pulpit, and explains the Bible, accurately and passionately. Too many people do not understand that is what a pastor does. Here is a blog series which explains what a pastor's duties are. And are not.
The Absence of Shepherds
Why Does God Call them Shepherds?
Don't Starve the Sheep
What To Look for in a Shepherd
How Do We Measure a Shepherd's Success?
Living in Georgia and being member of Southern Baptist Convention Churches means usually there is an invitation at the end of a sermon, to walk down the aisle and 'accept Jesus' and be written down in a log book and declared a Christian. This is done in children's Sunday School classes and at VBS, too. Frequently the church's pastor or an imported evangelism-revivalism type preacher would have us close our eyes at the end of the sermon and the seeker would parrot back a prayer the preacher said, and then sometimes even raise one's hand to declare they have decided for Christ, no need to walk an aisle. Let's make salvation easy. Hipster gatherings use glowsticks which are held up to indicate the seeker's new allegiance to Jesus as a follower. The preachers would tell everyone to close their eyes while the music played, and the preacher says, "I see that hand, yes, I see that hand too." Once a friend of mine who sat in the back said he peeked and there were no hands up.
What is the "invitation" or "altar call"?
An altar call is an appeal for an immediate public response to a sermon just preached. It is popularly called the invitation and as used in this context is an appeal for a public act of commitment and can involve hand raising, going to a counseling area or signing a commitment card. Most often it involves walking down the aisle to the front of a church auditorium. The altar call is tacked on to the end of a sermon and the invitation usually is to "come forward and accept Christ as your Savior." Various emotional techniques such as telling sad, tear jerking stories and playing mood-creating music in the background are employed to encourage response to the altar call. ...
In Acts 2:36-37 we are told that at Pentecost 3,000 people were saved but no altar call was used. The saving of those 3,000 was the work of the Holy Spirit of God and not of clever emotional appeals to come to the front of the meeting place. Whatever reasons one may give for using the altar call, it is a fact that it cannot be supported from the word of God.
As we have already pointed out, some people believe and teach that if one does not give an invitation in connection with his sermon he is not evangelistic. But we cannot be more evangelistic than the New Testament and the altar call or invitation system is not to be found in the pages of the New Testament. Actually having an altar call is a departure from scriptural requirements and practice.
In the New Testament and in Christian history up until the year 1820 AD sinners were invited to Christ, not to decide at the end of a sermon whether to perform some physical action. You will search Christian history in vain for an altar call or invitation before about 1820. George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist perhaps of all time never used the altar call. Charles Spurgeon under whose preaching more people were saved than perhaps any other pastor over the centuries never gave an invitation.
Well, where did the altar call come from if God’s word doesn’t teach it? The answer is that the altar call is a human invention that is less than 200 years old.
Source: Why We Don't Use the Altar Call. More at link.I always resisted that kind of man-made decisionism and mourned those who were likely false converts, even before I knew what the Doctrines of Grace were. It just seemed manipulative to me. I prayed both for those who might have been prematurely declared a Christian and also prayed for the practice to stop. By God's grace he opened my eyes and grew me to a better understanding of what justification is and God's sovereignty over it, through illuminating His word. Here is a meme featuring Calvinist-Baptist Charles Spurgeon on man-made choosing God practices (Arminianism) and God's sovereignty over His choice of the elect.
Yesterday I saw on Facebook a meme-photo titled "Things Peter Never Said" and I liked it but I can't find it now. I re-created my own and it went something like this:
|#Things Peter Never Said|
If your blog roll is getting a little stale, here are 190 blogs for your consideration. Have you ever wondered how Tim Challies, popular blogger and book reviewer, manages to put out fresh content daily with all those wide-spread links? I have. Yesterday he answered the question and opened for public viewing his list of blogs from which he mines content. If you want to read some different perspectives than the blogs you always read, or just want to refresh your blog roll for others, here is a good resource.
190 Blogs I read
On Facebook, someone had posted 300 Books Everyone Should Read. I've been having a hard time lately with reading. I studied on my problem for a while and it boils down to two things, I think. I need new glasses, badly, and that means a trip into the city to see an ophthalmologist. It's been 8 years since I last had an eye exam. I dislike the city and I dislike going to see doctors, hence the delay with proper eye-wear and my eyes feeling tired and blurry by the end of the day.
Secondly, in my ever present push to "be productive," I've gravitated to reading only theological books, which is fine, but it also has sapped some of the fun out of reading. I haven't read a good yarn since the Grisham book-before-last and the Will Thomas book-before-last. (Both of Grisham's and Thomas's most recent books were disappointing and I didn't finish).
I decided to look at the list and see what someone considered "must-read literature." I was not surprised by many of the titles on the list. Some of the titles were new to me, while others had long ago been on my own "must-read" list but had fallen by the wayside. I decided to look some of them up at Amazon.
If a book was a young adult book I wanted to read, like Lois Lowry's "The Giver" or "Where the Red Fern Grows", I decided to check them out from my school's library. If the book was a movie, I decided to watch the movie. One such book was "The Perks of Being a Wallflower".
It is a book about high school, something that fascinates me because I still haven't figured out what THAT was all about, 40 years ago. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Clueless (1995), and Election (1999) are some of my favorite High School movies. FTARH and Election deal with one or two dark themes but those are handled well and the movie overall has a cinematic lightness to it. Literally, the movies are light. I found Perks online and began watching.
Perks was different. Though I did not know ahead of time what the themes were, apart from a shy boy negotiating the social miasma that is American high school, the movie was cinematically dark and somber in mood. After about fifteen minutes I became concerned with the direction the movie was taking. I decided to read the plot summary for the movie at Wikipedia instead of watch it. Themes dealt with in the movie were:
suicide by gun,
molestation of female minor,
molestation of male minor,
drugs, tobacco, alcohol,
All righty then.
I was glad I didn't pursue the movie and I sadly mourn the themes our youth are subjected to these days. What a different 20-30 years makes... In addition, that is one of the reasons I gravitated away from fiction. Sigh. I guess the search continues.
I did purchase three books at Amazon. The Book Thief, The Kite Runner, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I also have started Pilgrim's Progress in conjunction with a free class I am taking, and a Jan Karon book, Home To Holly Springs. Spring Break is on the horizon and I will be ready (as long as my eyes are!)
Our new church plant begins small groups today, praise the Lord. I am so proud of our elders and the way they unroll each new aspect of our new church under submission to the leading of the Spirit and done in a manner of unity and mutual respect. The men are certainly good examples to someone like me. Because of the timing of the place we are renting, our services begin at 3:30pm (WHICH I LOVE!) and our first small groups begin afterwards in various homes today. If you can find the time to pray for our church once in a while, I would appreciate it.
Have a blessed Lord's Day everyone.