one tiny soapbox: June 2007
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Saturday, June 30

bust a move?

So, there's a very prominent pastor who essentially asked for his wife's hand in marriage in an extremely non-traditional way.

Seems he knew her back when she was the fiancée of another. The invitations were in the trunk of her car, but (curiously) had not yet been mailed. He apparently communicated to her his disagreement with her impending choice of husband and made it clear that he wanted her as his bride. (This is no rumor, but, publicly proclaimed, historical fact.)

He seems to have done something right...they've since been happily married for decades (with 14 grandbabies, at last count).

Wow! ...I wonder if I could ever muster the nerve to bust that type of move?! Recently, I've begun to consider that I may, indeed. Perhaps more on that later.

And with that, I leave you with a great article on the essentials of marriage.

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Wednesday, June 20

just like that!

E'ry now and again, something hits me hard. Really hard. Following is a quote I found at that hit me like...well, how do they say it? Like a Mack Truck. If it doesn't hit you...then you're the perfect Christian. Literally.

Or, you need Jesus. Really.

"Heart-work is hard work indeed. To shuffle over religious duties with a loose and careless spirit, will cost no great difficulties; but to set yourself before the Lord, and to tie up your loose and vain thoughts to a constant and serious attendance upon him, this will cost you something.

"To attain ease and dexterity of language in prayer and to be able to put your meaning into appropriate and fitting expressions is easy; but to get your heart broken for sin while you are actually confessing it; melted with free grace even while you are blessing God for it; to be really ashamed and humbled through the awareness of God's infinite holiness, and to keep your heart in this state not only in, but after these duties, will surely cost you some groans and travailing pain of soul."

~ John Flavel (1628-1691)

Oooff! 'scuse me, while I go recover from the collision...

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Tuesday, June 19

story time, again...'s been quite a while since I last posted an excerpt from the world's greatest (and my personal favorite) allegory. So, without further "a-do," here you have it (remember, you can click the title of this post to enjoy the full version of it, immediately) ...

~ ~ ~

....Now he had not run far from his own door, but his Wife and Children, perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the Man out his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying Life! Life! Eternal Life! So he looked not behind him, but fled towards the middle of the Plain.

The Neighbors also came out to see him run; and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and among those that did so, there were two that resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of the one was Obstinate, and the name of the other Pliable. Now by this time the Man was got a good distance from them; but however they were resolved to pursue him, which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said the Man, Neighbors, wherefore are you come? They said, To persuade you to go back with us. But he said, That can by no means be; you dwell, said he, in the City of Destruction, the place also where I was born, I see it to be so; and dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the Grave, into a place that burns with Fire and Brimstone: be content, good Neighbors, and go along with me.

Obstinate ~ What, said Obstinate, and leave our friends and our comforts behind us!

Christian ~ Yes, said Christian, for that was his name, because that all which you shall forsake is not worthy to be compared with a little of that that I am seeking to enjoy; and if you will go along with me and hold it, you shall fare as I myself; for there where I go, is enough and to spare: Come away, and prove my words.

Obstinate ~ What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them?

Christian ~ I seek an Inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, and it is laid up in Heaven, and safe there, to be bestowed at the time appointed, on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in my Book.

Obstinate ~ Tush, said Obstinate, away with your Book; will you go back with us or no?

Christian ~ No, not I, said the other, because I have laid my hand to the Plow.

Obstinate ~ Come then, Neighbor Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without him; there is a company of these craz'd-headed coxcombs, that, when they take a fancy by the end, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason.

Pliable ~ Then said Pliable, Don't revile; if what the good Christian says is true, the things he looks after are better than ours; my heart inclines to go with my Neighbor.

Obstinate ~ What! more fools still? Be ruled by me, and go back; who knows whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you? Go back, go back, and be wise.

Christian ~ Come with me, Neighbor Pliable; there are such things to be had which I spoke of, and many more Glories besides. If you believe not me, read here in this Book; and for the truth of what is exprest therein, behold, all is confirmed by the blood of Him that made it.

Pliable ~ Well, Neighbor Obstinate, said Pliable, I begin to come to a point: I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him: but, my good companion, do you know the way to this desired place?

Christian ~ I am directed by a man, whose name is Evangelist, to speed me to a little Gate that is before us, where we shall receive instructions about the way.

Pliable ~ Come then, good Neighbor, let us be going. Then they went both together.

Obstinate ~ And I will go back to my place, said Obstinate; I will be no companion of such mis-led, fantastical fellows.

Now I saw in my Dream, that when Obstinate was gone back, Christian and Pliable went talking over the Plain; and thus they began their discourse.

Christian ~ Come Neighbor Pliable, how do you do? I am glad you are persuaded to go along with me: Had even Obstinate himself but felt what I have felt of the powers and terrors of what is yet unseen, he would not thus lightly have given us the back.

Pliable ~ Come, Neighbor Christian, since there are none but us two here, tell me now further what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are going?

Christian ~ I can better conceive of them with my Mind, than speak of them with my Tongue: but yet, since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my Book.

Pliable ~ And do you think that the words of your Book are certainly true?

Christian ~ Yes, verily; for it was made by him that cannot lye.

Pliable ~ Well said; what things are they?

Christian ~ There is an endless Kingdom to be inhabited, and everlasting Life to be given us, that may inhabit that Kingdom for ever.

Pliable ~ Well said; and what else?

Christian ~ There are Crowns of glory to be given us, and Garments that will make us shine like the Sun in the firmament of Heaven.

Pliable ~ This is excellent; and what else?

Christian ~ There shall be no more crying, nor sorrow, for He that is owner of the place will wipe all tears from our eyes.

Pliable ~ And what company shall we have there?

Christian ~ There we shall be with Seraphims and Cherubims, creatures that will dazzle your eyes to look on them: There also you shall meet with thousands and ten thousands that have gone before us to that place; none of them are hurtful, but loving and holy; every one walking in the sight of God, and standing in his presence with acceptance for ever. In a word, there we shall see the Elders with their golden Crowns, there we shall see the Holy Virgins with their golden Harps, there we shall see men that by the World were cut in pieces, burnt in flames, eaten of beasts, drowned in the seas, for the love that they bare to the Lord of the place, all well, and cloathed with Immortality as with a garment.

Pliable ~ The hearing of this is enough to ravish one's heart; but are these things to be enjoyed? How shall we get to be sharers hereof?

Christian ~ The Lord, the Governor of the country, hath recorded that in this Book; the substance of which is, If we be truly willing to have it, he will bestow it upon us freely.

Pliable ~ Well, my good companion, glad am I to hear of these things; come on, let us mend our pace.

Christian ~ I cannot go so fast as I would, by reason of this Burden that is upon my back.

Now I saw in my Dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew near to a very miry Slough, that was in the midst of the plain; and they, being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was Dispond. Here therefore they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the Burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.

Pliable ~ Then said Pliable, Ah Neighbor Christian, where are you now?

Pliable ~ Truly, said Christian, I do not know.

Pliable ~ At that Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to his fellow, Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect 'twixt this and our Journey's end? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave Country alone for me. And with that he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the Slough which was next to his own house: so away he went, and Christian saw him no more.

Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Dispond alone; but still he endeavoured to struggle to that side of the Slough that was still further from his own house, and next to the Wicket-gate; the which he did, but could not get out, because of the Burden that was upon his back: But I beheld in my Dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him, What he did there?

Christian ~ Sir, said Christian, I was bid go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder Gate, that I might escape the wrath to come; and as I was going thither, I fell in here.

Help ~ But why did you not look for the steps?

Christian ~ Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way, and fell in.

Help ~ Then said he, Give me thy hand: so he gave him his hand, and he drew him out, and set him upon sound ground, and bid him go on his way.

Then I stepped to him that pluckt him out, and said, Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the City of Destruction to yonder Gate, is it that this plat is not mended, that poor travelers might go thither with more security? And he said unto me, This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Dispond; for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place: And this is the reason of the badness of this ground.

It is not the pleasure of the King that this place should remain so bad. His labourers also have, by the direction of His Majesties Surveyors, been for above these sixteen hundred years employed about this patch of ground, if perhaps it might have been mended: yea, and to my knowledge, said he, here hath been swallowed up at least twenty thousand cart-loads, yea, millions of wholesome instructions, that have at all seasons been brought from all places of the King's dominions (and they that can tell say they are the best materials to make good ground of the place), if so be it might have been mended, but it is the Slough of Dispond still, and so will be when they have done what they can.

True, there are by the direction of the Lawgiver, certain good and substantial steps, placed even through the very midst of this Slough; but at such time as this place doth much spue out its filth, as it doth against change of weather, these steps are hardly seen; or if they be, men through the dizziness of their heads, step besides; and then they are bemired to purpose, notwithstanding the steps be there; but the ground is good when they are once got in at the Gate.

~ ~ ~

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Wednesday, June 6

ATT Yahoo's bad call

While I certainly do not agree with most anti-establishment belly-achers over the perceived worsening moral plight of corporate America "Fat Cats," I do, now and again, see a clear need to express one's opinions with respect to some tactless or ill-advised policy that is forced upon the consuming masses.

One such action is that of ATT Yahoo's very recent decision to implement a policy of rather heavy advertising across the board of email account holders. This means that now all users - regardless of whether paid or free - are forced to endure both text and graphic advertising while using their email. (My premium account interface is surrounded by ads on almost all sides.)

This simply will not do, for me.

If you're also an ATT Yahoo customer and feel the same as I, then by all means contact them here and let your voice be heard.

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Saturday, June 2

God as an afterthought

I greatly enjoy watching films.

Yet, while watching a movie recently, it occurred to me how there's such an overwhelming tendency in film-making - and film-watching - to place the viewer in a God-like perspective (minus, of course, what the director prevents one from seeing & knowing).

There's also a tendency - in most cases - towards merely vague references to the Deity's existence, rendering Him, in the imagined world of the character (and temporarily the viewer), a virtual afterthought, with no real substance, worth or impact on the events of the character, as detailed within the story.

These two by-products of humanist film-making serve as poignant reminders of just how godless our society is.

I was blessed to engage in a profitable discussion regarding the "secularization of the painted arts" with two Believing friends of mine, a husband and wife who are both classically trained artists. I learned from them that the rise of surrealistic art, such as impressionism and other modern forms, actually has its Genesis in the departure from a foundational emphasis on the creature as product of a Creator's intelligent design.

Am I making a case for some strong dichotomization between the secular and the sacred, as do some? No. In fact, modern media are clearly no more inherently secular than the paint or clay or pen or computer.

Take classic orchestral composers. Many throughout the early days of history actually created their greatest works by commission of some church body. Consequently, their works were often used extensively in church worship throughout several European countries. More recently, radio actually served heavily during its infancy in the propagation of the Gospel message across both US and foreign soil.

In our times, the media struggles to be used for so High a Purpose. In fact, as I survey the moonscape of advertiser-funded television's prime-time lineup, I hold little faith that particular medium will ever serve nearly so usefully as it once had promise to do. Of course, subscription derivatives, like digital satellite may still have hope. One illustration of such hope is the fairly recent commencement of Grace to You sermon broadcasts, which can also be seen via the Internet (thank God for Al Gore's Internet....Laugh-Out-Loud!) My guess is there's at least a smattering of other worthy offerings amongst the hundreds of channels to be surfed via satellite and cable.

Like that branch of television which stands largely independent of substantial studio and advertiser control, perhaps the medium of film - independently funded - may well have a chance at stemming the tide of neglect and inaccurate portrayal of the Truth of Christ.

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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