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What I Read Online – 05/30/2013 (a.m.)

30 May
    • Can a celebrant or church minister refuse to marry a same sex couple?

      The Marriage Act authorises but does not oblige any marriage celebrant to solemnise a marriage. This is unchanged by the Marriage Amendment Act. However this is further reinforced by the Amendment Act which states that no religious or organisational celebrant is obliged to solemnise a marriage that would contravene religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of a religious body or approved organisation.

    • Pray for a humble heart. Make sure you aren’t being censorious
    • Take note of your position. How you think about laboring for change in your church, and how you think of whether to work for change at all, has everything to do with your position in the church
    • Try to discern the relative importance of your concerns
    • Don’t talk up your concerns. Beware of building up an ever expanding circle of discontents
    • Consider encouraging your pastor with positive reinforcement. Find what you can commend and commend it
    • Consider prayerfully the course of direct confrontation. The pastor is not beyond correction. He can make mistakes. He can fall into error. He can get off track. He can grow proud. If after prayerful reflection you conclude that your concerns are serious and the trajectory worsening, set up a time to talk to your pastor or elders directly
    • Consider when it is time to leave. If your new theological convictions are out of step with the entire history and identity of the church, it’s best not to strategize for underground change
    • What I am saying is that practically you should not spend your life trying to do what has very little chance of success, theologically you should obey and respect your leaders, and spiritually you should not be divisive.
    • How does work fit into a man’s life? Young men in particular hear conflicting answers to this question. Is it a measuring stick for my self-worth? Is it the means to earn a good life for my family and me? Is it a way to actualize my interests and talents? Or is it just an unpleasant necessity in the pursuit of enjoying myself?
    • This doesn’t in any way imply that women cannot or should not work; but it does mean that men have a special responsibility for cultivating the soil. The cultivator works the soils of his life that he might bless others with the fruit of his labor.
    • And while we can cultivate all kinds of soils, the most significant one we must learn to cultivate is gainful work—that which bears “fruit” for us to live on. Men are called to work in a way that lets us and our families eat if we are able to do so. It’s good to cultivate skills or talents we’re passionate about, but these things must be subject to the soil of gainful employment.
    • These years are also time to begin cultivating a God-honoring approach to work. Since God has shaped you to work, begin looking for ways to enjoy what you do. You may start out loving work or hating it; but diligence is an acquired trait, and it is glorifying to God (Col. 3:23).
    • Likewise, God calls the cultivator to work to bless others.
    • But God wills that we use the fruit of our labor to bless people beyond our family as well.
    • You may feel years away from being able to bless others with the fruit of your work—most of us start out with pretty crummy pay and may depend on others for our livelihood for a while. Indeed, we may have times where we are poor and rely on the mercy of others. But there are almost always people with greater needs, and the heart of giving is more important to God than the amount we give (Luke 21:1-4).
    • Regarding others, we can share the gospel with nonbelieving co-workers, encourage Christian ones, and pray for both. We may prioritize family or friends over a better-paying job opportunity. We can look for ways to be salt and light in our workplaces and in the “soils” of our hobbies, sharing the love of God through work and play.
    • Acts 2-5 portrays a spirit of communal sharing rather than an actual commune. The people did not sell everything they owned to legal title, as those typically do in a commune. This is evidenced by the imperfect verbs used throughout the passages.
    • There is also sufficient reason to believe that the early followers of Christ did not sell all they had, but rather occasionally sold part of their possessions and gave the proceeds to the apostles for distribution
    • The act in Acts was totally voluntary — Socialism implies coercion by the state, but these early believers contributed their goods freely
    • The narrative was not a universal command. — To prove Acts 2-5 commands socialism, you would have to show that this historical precedent is a mandatory prescription for all later Christians. You cannot get the imperative (all Christians should do this) from the indicative (some early Christians did this)
    • If Bethlehem is not “singing and making melody to the Lord with [our] heart,” (Ephesians 5:19), it’s all over. We close up shop. This is no small commitment.
    • Christian worship is not a concert.
    • so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.
    • I know it’s generally not your fault that we’ve put you at the front of the church. And I know you want to model worship for us to imitate. But because we’ve encouraged you to basically import forms of performance from the concert venue into the sanctuary, we might not realize that we’ve also unwittingly encouraged a sense that you are the center of attention. And when your performance becomes a display of your virtuosity—even with the best of intentions—it’s difficult to counter the temptation to make the praise band the focus of our attention
    • One of those premises is that a quick fix, much as we long for it when we’re hurting, is of little value. Deep, soul-deadening discouragement needs deep treatment, which can only be effected with diligence and over time. Deserted By God? offers help that requires rigorous study of God’s Word, both during dark times, when we especially don’t feel like rigorous study, and preemptively, to prepare ourselves for the dark times that are sure to come
    • Another of the book’s premises is that nothing heals damaged emotions like good theology
    • A third premise of Deserted By God? is that, while there are all kinds of legitimate causes for discouragement, and while discouragement itself is not sin, we have choices as to how we will respond
    • My parenting is humbling: One of the cards I got yesterday, said “To the best Dad in the world.” It was a lovely sentiment. I wish it was true. It’s not. I feel I’ve been such a failure as a Dad, so much so that I really can’t believe God would give me another son to father. Scot may get the benefit of some of the failures I’ve learned from over the years, but my hope for him is not in my fathering. It’s in my Heavenly Father and His gift of His only Son.
    • First, the claim that the Bible should be rejected on the grounds that it is an unchanging and absolute authority is a strange one given that Dowd never provides a reason for why this is a problem.  Why should we prefer changing authorities over unchanging ones?
    • In addition, his claim that evolutionary science is committed to changing and evolving (and therefore not subject to the charge of dogmatism) is bizarre at best.  Evolutionary dogma rules the modern academy with an iron fist—you can question just about anything in science except evolution itself.  It is an absolute, unquestionable fact.  One should not chide Christians for commitment to a dogmatic authority when one has their own commitment to one.  
    • Second, Dowd’s rejection of the Bible on moral grounds runs into enormous problems.  If he wants to take the moral high ground and critique the Bible for being immoral, then he clearly must have access to some absolute moral standard in the universe that tells him the Bible is mistaken.
    • Thus, Dowd is critiquing the morality of the Bible on the basis of a worldview that actually destroys any possibility of absolute moral norms.  For a person who is quick to note inconsistencies in the Bible, he fails to see this monumental inconsistency in his own worldview.
    • From the very outset he said we should never have absolute authorities, but only authorities that are committed to changing and evolving.  But, he violates his own principle by appealing to unchanging moral norms—like the fact that abuse, terror, and torture are “wrong”—when he critiques the contents of the Bible
    • Mr. Dowd’s article is a great example of what happens to a worldview that rejects the Bible as the ultimate authority—it simply erects another authority in its place.  All worldviews need some authority.  And when God is rejected, men turn to the only place they can.  Themselves.  Sadly, that is the real idolatry
    • What is a Christian? One who, by the grace of God, can declare that he justly deserves the wrath of God, save for the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. He casts aside all hope in his self-righteousness and puts away all pride in his own goodness. One who is glad to be regarded as spiritually bankrupt, a poor sinner, saved by the free grace and righteousness of Christ and, with a grateful heart, yields in allegiance to Him alone as LORD and sovereign. In a word, one who “glories in Christ Jesus and has no confidence in the flesh.” (Phil. 3:3)

        

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 30/05/2013 in Current Issues

 

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