Monthly Archives: November 2017

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #136

Resuming posting after a brief Thanksgiving week break. Today’s post begins with this passage from Ephesians:

25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

(Ephesians 4:25-32)

A couple of things caught my attention while reading this passage.

The first was this: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.” It seems to me that St. Paul does give room for what we might call “Righteous Anger” to a Christian. However, he warns us not to sin, and gives two specifics: don’t let the sun go down, and don’t give room for the devil. The way I interpret this, he is saying that anger must be momentary, not a permanent condition for us. And that we must not let our anger be a source of temptation for Satan to exploit us.

The second part that got my attention was this: “ Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” Elsewhere St. Paul warns about obscene language and foul language. Here what I found interesting was the mention of edifying and fitting the occasion. It seems to me that he might be giving a little leeway for what we might call “working blue,” but only if it fits the occasion. That is, it is absolutely necessary to edify a brother.

Then we have this passage from First Peter:

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? 14 But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.

(1 Peter 3:13-17)

We Christians should always be hopeful. Always. It should be a constant mark of who and what we are. Just as pagans should know us for our love, they should know us for our hope. This is especially important in this day and age, because it seems to me that we are entering an age without hope. I sense very little hope in most people. They don’t know what they are really living for. Consequently they are attaching themselves to various pleasure and diversions to try and bring meaning to their lives. Or at least satisfaction. Of course, that never works out for them in the end.

Finally I want to end with two verses from the Book of Proverbs. The first:

Take a man’s garment when he has given surety for a stranger,
    and hold him in pledge when he gives surety for foreigners.

(Proverbs 27:13)

Here translation makes a major difference. The RSV translates that last word as foreigners. But the literal translation is foreign woman. Which, if we consider what is being said before, actually helps everything make sense. The proverb is saying that if a man takes a loan and spends it on a foreign woman (aka, a harlot), then don’t give him back his surety afterwards. He deserves to lose his clothes for that.

And finally I leave with this verse, which I hope to talk about in a post tomorrow:

Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another.

(Proverbs 27:17)

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How Hard Is It To Miss The Point?

This post is a response to Dalrock’s latest, Missing the point is hard work. In that post Dalrock pokes fun at a certain Trevin Wax of the Gospel Coalition. Mr Wax apparently was stupefied as to why young girls were taking Frozen and its song “Let it Go” as encouragement to be immoral. He was expecting a toxic message, seemingly found a decent message, and yet the toxic message seems to seep through. How can this be?

Well, let me be the Devil’s Advocate for Mr. Wax.

You see, I think the key is understanding levels of communication. As an adult Mr. Wax is picking up the (apparent) deeper message of the story. Namely that “letting go” is a disaster of an idea. This deeper message is not surface level- it requires analysis. Maybe not a lot, but analysis nonetheless. And it also requires a certain level of critical viewing skill as well. Guess what kids don’t have? Yeah, that.

The problem is that the toxic message is surface level. This is what children are picking up- especially through the music. The song celebrates rebellion, and all its accompanying sins. That is what the children listen to, that is what they sing, and that is what they memorize. They don’t do any of that for the deeper messages of the story (which I assume are present).

This is why Disney and similar products are so insidious. An adult watching them might think that the message of the story is ok- that it teaches that being rebellious and selfish and whatnot is a bad idea, and will leader to disaster. But the children are getting an entirely different message- one that is reverberated again and again, especially thanks to music.

Is all of this obvious- well, to some degree. But I suspect many miss it. A singular problem that I have noticed in my life is that many adults have forgotten what it is like to be a child. Especially parents. This only contributes to their often foolish behavior as parents. I suspect that some of this is going on as well.

But whatever else, this is how people “miss it.” It doesn’t even require willful blindness- just a healthy dose of folly and a lack of perception. And unfortunately those are in abundant supply these days.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #135

Today’s post is inspired by this recent post over at Zippy’s. A major point of discussion in the comments is Christian (in that particular context Catholic Christian) heroism. I want to move this post out of a narrow Catholic context into one that all Christians can address. A question is necessary: are we, as Christians, called to heroism? Lets look at some Scripture:

23 When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves in array,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, 30 while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

(Acts 4:23-31)

That whole chapter features boldness, which I think is a heroic quality.

I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as did my fathers, when I remember you constantly in my prayers. As I remember your tears, I long night and day to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo′is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, 10 and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

(2 Timothy 3-14)

These are just a couple of passages, but to me it seems like we as Christians are called to boldness and endure great challenges. Seems an awful lot like heroism to me. However, I could be wrong. So I ask my readers to offer their thoughts. And if they have passages from Scripture which they think would fit (or counter the above), feel free to mention them below.

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Saturday Saints- #135

We finish up another round of alphabetical saints today with the letter Z. Our saint hails from central/eastern Europe and is Saint Zdislava Berka:

Zdislava Berka T.O.S.D. (also, Zdislava of Lemberk; c. 1220–1252) was the wife of Havel of Markvartice, Duke of Lemberk, and is a Czech saint of the Roman Catholic Church. She was a particularly austere and generous woman who founded a convent.

Zdislava was from a Moravian family, born in Křižanov, in what is now the Žďár nad Sázavou District of the Czech Republic. She was reportedly an unusually devout child, who at age seven ran away into the forest with the intention of living a hermit’s life of prayer and solitude. She was forcibly returned by her family, and made to live a normal childhood from that point on. Later, her family arranged for her to marry Bohemian lord Havel of Markvartice (also known as Gallus of Lämberg or Havel of Lemberk) from prosperous Marquards family, founder of the towns of Jablonné (German: Deutsch Gabel) and Habelschwerdt (now Bystrzyca Kłodzka). Together they would have four children.

More can be found out about her at her wiki, located here.

 

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