Archive | November, 2012

Really? Really?

30 Nov

Starting a new series of quotes I hear coming out of our mouths, as believers in Jesus, and what they sound like they really mean, I am going to lead out with a recent quote I heard about the book of Hebrews.

A friend expressed the idea that he was always glad to get past the “doctrinal” portion of a New Testament book, including Hebrews in the present case, and to move on to the “practical applications.”  “Just tell me what I gotta do!”

This friend would never, ever say that we are saved by works; he would not say that we are kept saved by works.  He would not say that our sanctification is by works.  He would say, like I do, that works are the fruit of our love for Jesus “because He first loved us.”

But does that quote give a different impression?

I think it does.  I think it implies skipping over the rich doctrinal part of Hebrews that describes in detail what Christ has done for us and rushing headlong to the part that tells us what we can do to start “paying Him back.”

Hint:  we can’t pay Him back.  Approaching Him as though we have a spreadsheet ledger system keeping track of what we do in one column and what He did in another is really quite diminishing of the faith we profess in Christ’s finished work!

We all say things like this at some point.  But let’s think how they sound to pagans.  They make Christianity sound like just another religion of works!

On the Road Again: Swimming in a Blizzard in Reykjavik

30 Nov

Wintertime reminds me not just of Kristkindlmarkts (Christ Child Markets) throughout German-speaking Europe, but also of places where hot springs or geysers allow outdoor swimming in winter.

One such place is Reykjavik, Iceland. In fact, most of Iceland is heated by geothermal sources underground.

One winter weekend while my squadron was spending the months September to March of 1983-84 in Iceland, a group of friends and I decided to get off base and stay in a nice hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. We had a nice meal in the hotel restaurant the first night (except for the raw shark appetizer we tried, yuck!).

The next day, while touring the city, we decided to go to the outdoor swimming pool (Olympic-sized) operated year-round in the center of town.

Oh, my goodness, that was fun and strange. We were swimming outside in a snowstorm!

It was freezing running from the dressing rooms to the pool outside, but once in the pool, it was warm for quite a while.

When we started to chill, there were three gradations of hot tub nearby to sit in to warm up!

‘Course our heads were out of the water and my hair did freeze in the snowstorm but . . .

We made memories that can never be taken away of swimming outdoors in winter in geyser-heated pools!!!

Our Next Step

29 Nov

A quick note about the coming transition in our lives…

Our Next Step

On the Road Again: The Stuttgart Kristkindlmarkt (Christmas Market)

29 Nov

Christmas ornament from the Stuttgart Kristkindlmarkt

This article shows why I love German Kristkindlmarkts (Christmas markets, or literally Christ Child Markets).  The above ornament is my newest addition from Germany, brought back by a co-worker who was just over in Stuttgart on his yearly military duty.

We lived in Stuttgart from 1988 to 1991 (well, Noel joined me when we married in mid-1989).

I think I loved the Stuttgart Christmas market because it became so familiar and ordinary to me.  Just 30 or 40 booths set up in the city square outside the Rathaus (City Hall), selling beautiful ornaments and other handicrafts from late November until the New Year (twelve days of Christmas, you know).

The Vienna Christkindlmarkt was beloved because we only saw it once and it was so exotic.  But Stuttgart was home!

Vignettes, Life, and the Lord

28 Nov

Some of my travel vignettes, as well as the stories of life in London when I was there from 1985-1987, may raise eyebrows and beg an explanation as to why they are part of the theme of Iconobaptist.

I believe that, at this point, I have presented my Christian faith thoroughly enough that most of you are aware I am a Christian.  I also think most of you won’t find it a stretch to say that my Christian faith informs every part of my life.

Most of all, however, I believe that God’s grace surrounds me in more of a real way than the air I breathe.

It gives me life like the air I breathe, too.

So everything in life relates to God and His grace.

Ironically, when I was a college student, I went through a phase with a friend of mine in which we thought we couldn’t be good Christians unless we used the name “Jesus” in every sentence we said.

I don’t believe that now.  Jesus is part of every sentence I say, so much so that He doesn’t need to be artificially inserted in there.  He comes up often, and naturally, enough.

I love Him!

On the Road Again: Walking across London, Part III

28 Nov

The last two days about London have consisted of vignettes about trying to find a way home from Knightsbridge (think Harrod’s) on Christmas Eve and from Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve.

Today I will just say that London is a most walkable city.

I haven’t been there for over 20 years now, but when I lived there, it was pretty dangerous to walk in most downtown areas of the U.S.  London was a city of about six million people, but it lived life at a slower, gentler pace.  Since England is an island and firearms were pretty strictly controlled, there were not too many attacks going on in the streets of London.  And those areas that were high risk were pretty well-known and easily avoided.

London also is full of royal parks.  As I mentioned two days ago, it was possible to walk from my church to my home via Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and Primrose Hill, with only a couple of streets in between.  Hyde Park connects to St. James Park, Green Park, and Kensington Gardens as well.  So much green!

We used to run our Navy physical fitness test in Hyde Park.  It is also the site of the famous Peter Pan statue.

Kensington Gardens borders Kensington Palace where Prince Charles and Princess Diana used to live back then.

And Regent’s Park contains the well-known London zoo.  As I entered the park to walk or run many days while living in London,  I could see the giraffes, hanging their necks over from their enclosure.  And the giraffes are my favorite animal!

So, while some might think it was fearless of me to walk or run in London as much as I did, I know myself and my timidity about questionable areas.  I never felt that timidity in most parts of London.

And I have never walked so much in my life!

Controversial Tuesday: Doug Wilson about Female Bishops in the Church of England

27 Nov

I always love how Doug Wilson puts things.  He is funny even when he is serious, you know!!??

Why it matters:  in 1994, England ordained its first group of women priests in the Church of England.  A compromise was arranged between conservatives, who believe God only calls men to pastor, and liberals, who believe God calls women, too.  The compromise involved ordaining women priests who could not then progress onward to become bishops, like men could.

Last month, the issue finally came to the point that the entire Church of England voting body met over the issue of ordaining women as bishops.  The measure was defeated, not by the ordained people but by the laity.

Doug Wilson believes, as I do, that God calls men to pastor.  That does not mean women are inferior, only that we have a different calling (this doctrine is called “complementarianism”).  But Doug Wilson makes the point that becoming a bishop has always been the next logical step after becoming a priest, so if you make a woman the first one, she will want to become the second one, just like a man does.

It would be comparable to having women become teachers in the U.S. but telling them that only men can go on to become principals.  Not a very tenable position.  Ever.

If this is not your cup of tea, skip this controversy.  I find it interesting because I was a member of a C of E church while living in England 25 years ago.

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