Monday, April 29, 2013

YARN BOMBING AND SIN COVERING



(Red Deer Express, January 9th, 2013.) This ‘yarn bombing’ is not an April Fool’s joke. Neither is it an idea to replace pink pelicans on the lawn for someone’s birthday. It is a growing ‘fad.’

Suppose a child came up with this idea. Or suppose a child got talked into participating in it. In either case, you could easily convince her to knit a scarf instead, maybe, and to accomplish something serviceable by all her knitting and stitching.
       
When I see a middle-aged professional woman ‘yarn bombing’ a tree, though, I almost lose hope for humanity. Yes, full-grown women who are into this fad probably do good works of some sort as well. But ‘yarn bombing’ a tree (forgive me for having to speak my mind) must be, if anything is, a cry for something significant to happen in one’s life. I speak for myself here, no one else. Just let me tell you what I hear in this odd act. I hear this being shouted into the air above the tree: ‘Give me a thrill, a life, a real job, or even cancer at this point, because I’ve completely lost my way down here! Look what I’m reduced to doing just to get some joy and meaning into my life!’

Would a full, satisfying life include ‘yarn bombing’ as a hobby? It would not. It could not. ‘Yarn bombing’ is a cry for help, a cry for significance, a cry to feel something, a cry of despair. Reach out to ‘yarn bombers,’ I’m not kidding. They are in the same camp with these desperate people who go to meetings in order to hug perfect strangers. I’m not making this up. I think those meetings are called ‘cuddle parties.’ What if these two groups came together? What if the ‘yarn bombers’ and the ‘cuddle party’ crowd converged at some community hall? Some interesting relationships would no doubt result!

Western culture, with its free time, affluence, loss of direction, and absence of principle, is an unreasonable, lonesome, pathetic, sad world.

Hutterites and Mennonites have many faults and errant beliefs. Concerning practical matters, however, they are worthy of imitation. My guess is that they are much too sensible and sober to ever get pulled into a ‘yarn bombing’ party. I can see their grave faces in my mind, full of concern, pity, and wonder about ‘yarn bombers.’

Let’s get even more old-school than colony-livers and black-attired cultivators. What does the New Testament have to say about ‘yarn bombing’? It speaks to such a mindless activity by way of contrast, “shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made” (Acts 9.39.) Dorcas did something useful and wonderful with her balls of yarn.

Let’s go back farther still. That ‘virtuous woman’ from Proverbs, what did she do with stuff like yarn? She clothed her household with scarlet and made coverings and girdles (31.19-24.)

We could go back farther, to the holy use of what was made for the priests to wear, and then to the coat of many colors that made Joseph feel special. These garments are full of meaning. But let’s go all the way back to Genesis and the fall. Though their work in sewing fig leaves together was for covering their shame, and though it made an entirely unsatisfactory covering for their sin, Adam and Eve had the good sense, at least, not to put their ‘yarn’ on a tree!

The animal skins that God gave to Adam and Eve to replace their fig leaves with, these were not given without life being taken and blood shed. This act was the first sacrifice for sin; and it prefigured and promised the last. The silly, insensible fads that we fill our time with, they point out the emptiness in our lives, our wandering sinfulness, and our time-wasting purposelessness. There is a covering for that; it is the anti-type of that first covering in the Garden of Eden. This covering came about through loss of life and shed blood too. This covering is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the pure white robe that God sees upon the sinner who takes Jesus for his salvation from sin, hell, and misery.

God never knit in vain, and neither should we. With the righteousness of Christ that may be the sinner’s through faith in his name, there comes that renewal of spirit that sanctifies the life with meaning, thus generating the beginning of good works, which works ought never to degenerate into a fondness for fads.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

ADDICTION VERSUS TEMPERANCE



(Red Deer Life, October 28th, 2012.) Shane Achenbach’s article is a revealing look into the world of iPhone addiction among high school teens. Putting the thing away for a whole week was a daunting prospect, he says. But he found the week so freeing of his time that he plans to bond less with it from now on.

I am reminded of how epidemic this type of addiction is every time I step out the door or even look out the window. For some of us, thankfully, iPhone addiction has not entered our homes yet, except temporarily through visitors or tenants.

Look around at the lives that are hijacked by gadget-addiction. See the lonely girl who wonders why she has no friends. But how may she meet any when she is always neck-deep into her iPhone? Notice the lonely boy, same problem. When he goes out he has the world turned off by the plugs in his ears!

There are greater dangers than loneliness and isolation through this addiction. The next text you send might cause a car accident, injury, or death; it could cause your marriage to implode; it could cost you your job. These effects have all happened through addiction to technological gadgetry.

The best way to prevent an addiction like this is to not own the tempting gadget. One simply doesn’t need the thing. The next step is to limit your internet time to just a few hours per week. This puts a check, not just on internet addiction, but on addictions to internet sites. And then pick a day or even two, for total internet abstinence. Be conscious of this danger, though: once you go to sites you are prone to getting addicted to, your time quota will go out the window. This shameful lesson I have learned through experience. The absolute best thing to do, if practicable, is to limit yourself to public internet use. This will put the handcuffs on both your hours and your site addictions.

Temperance is self-control over pleasurable actions that could turn into addictions. To be temperate is to be the master of your appetites. Show me a temperate man, and I will show you a man who has inner strength. The best example of such a man, outside the Bible and without the Christian sphere, may be Benjamin Franklin. A man may be a non-Christian and be very temperate, as his fascinating autobiography shows.

Sadly, Christians today are not one tenth as temperate as Benjamin Franklin was. True, there exists much more to tempt us to distraction and addiction now than then. But the command in Scripture to be temperate has not softened with age and progress. There are few ways more obvious than gadget-temperance to show that a person lives in the real world and that he is a citizen of a Higher World. It is not a proof; but it may be a sign. Why not take advantage of such a noticeable witness to this dying world? I speak as though you are a Christian when I say this. You must make your inquiry about what you are. Chew on this food for thought: if you are unconcerned and not convicted about having an internet gadget for your continual cigarette, is the Holy Ghost, through a reception of Jesus Christ, really operating in your life? If he is not operating in you, you have never been operated on by the saving grace of God, you are still in your sins, and you are still on that broad way leading to destruction that Jesus speaks of (Matthew 7.13.) You are still, then, to put it bluntly, on the highway toward hell.

Temperance is put alongside attributes like gentleness and peace as comprehending Spiritual fruit (Galatians 5.22, 23.) If you have no temperance, there is reason to doubt that you have the Spirit, which a reception of Christ certainly yields. In 2 Peter, temperance is put alongside faith, knowledge, and patience (1.5, 6.) If a person must check his gadget for messages continually, does that person have temperance and patience? If he has not those, does he even have faith? That text says that temperance and patience must be added to faith. Until that is done, then, how wise is it to presume that one has faith? Faith is the ground that temperance and patience spring from. If these flowers of faith are absent, it is likely that the root (faith) is absent as well. A person may exercise a kind of temperance and not be a Christian. But is he a Christian who is not temperate? It seems rather doubtful. 

When the apostle Paul had opportunity to address Felix, that tyrannical, unprincipled governor of Judea, “he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come” (Acts 24.25.) So much is temperance necessary to have that Felix ‘trembled’ for his lack of it. Paul knew that unsaved men are slaves to, not masters of, their appetites. Can a person be a slave to his passions and a servant of Christ at the same time? This is a question for every person professing to be a Christian, including myself. Passion-slavery, or gadget-slavery, is a mark of unbelief, if anything is. And ‘judgment to come’ follows intemperance as certainly as guilt follows sin.

There are numerous examples in Scripture of what temperance looks like on the ground of life. Temperance is the apostle Paul keeping under his body (1 Corinthians 9.27.) It is the men not coming at their wives when commanded to abstain (Exodus 19.15.) It is Daniel tempering all that he did by injecting seasons of prayer into his day (Daniel 6.10.) Cakes must be tempered with oil (Exodus 29.2.) Otherwise they will fall apart and be of little use. The life that is not tempered will fall apart and be just as useless.

When the right things are tempered together, when the sweetest things are compounded, the result is something pure and holy through which a divine meeting may take place (Exodus 30.34-36.) Jesus Christ is the sweetest compound: his divine-human person, his life, his works, and his death. The principal confection, or holy mixture, resulting from his divine-human work, so far as it concerns and benefits the sinner, is his righteousness. And that righteousness is for any trusting sinner to have credited to his account. You are a sinner. You must be justified. The righteousness of Jesus Christ may be credited to you through faith, and then meetings with the Godhead may be yours regularly and forever. To be justified by faith is to have the righteousness of Christ to your credit through your trust in his life of obedience and his willing, sacrificial, vicarious death. His resurrection is the seal that all that Jesus Christ the Son accomplished satisfied God the Father and can be beneficial to you.

Then, for a person to experience a significant Christian life, he must be ‘temperate in all things’ (1 Corinthians 9.25.) Nothing proves a commonplace life more noticeably than addictions to gadgetry. To live significantly, and to have the appearance of it too, one must be temperate. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

THE OUTER LIMITS OF ROMANTIC DESPERATION


Red Deer Advocate, November 5th, 2011. Of course this murderer was found ‘not criminally responsible for his act.’ Of course he should have been executed for his crimes at once. And of course he will be allowed to remarry and to father more kids that will be traumatized for having a child killer for a father. This is progressive, I mean backwards, Canada, where liberal justice will bay for your blood when you neuter your own cat, but will keep you safe when you kill your own kids. Yes, the headline states that he should ‘remain in care.’ Let’s take good care of him. After all, he stabbed his kids to death because he was ‘distraught.’ Poor murderer!

Now that my position on capital punishment has been restated (for I state it every chance I get), I want to address what is merely incidental to this depressing news. There exist women out there (women who should be naturally endowed with an instinct to nurture kids) who are so desperate for a man that they will chase after a child killer in order to get one! We’ve all heard stories of this stripe before. In this case, the women might be admiring this killer’s status as a doctor (which status comes with money, credit cards, and house privileges), but not necessarily. In any case, even after the psychologist warns that this man could kill more kids, some women can’t help admiring him and wanting him for their very own! Do we need any further confirmation that the Bible speaks truly about women being easy to deceive? (1 Timothy 2.14.) 

Granted, men are not what they used to be or should be. But do desperate women really have to resort to fighting over a child killer? In Isaiah 4.1 we read of seven women vying for the same man, which number is figurative to signify their desperate want. But at least these women could claim some justification for their desperation, men having become scarce on account of war.

Canadian women are not bound to marry this man or that man against their will, which is not the way it goes for women in places faraway, and not the way it usually went in times far gone. I value that liberty. But are the choices that women make any better than what might have been made for them? There is an easy-to-remember verse that all women should apply in their ongoing search for the perfect man. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37.37.) One commentator, Nathanael Hardy, says that the word ‘perfect’ is used to emphasize how upright this man is when compared to men who are openly bad (like the doctor who murdered his children.) So by using nothing but the powers of observation, both Christian and secular women could easily zone in on their eligible knight just a bit. I knew a man who had known a woman who made a choice between two righteous men by leaning on the word ‘mark’ in this verse, and taking it for a name instead of a verb! The other man, poor slob, lost out just because his rival was called Mark! My name is Mark, and still I would not coax a woman, no matter how righteous, intelligent, quiet, and attractive, to interpret the Bible like that! To all you desperate women out there, listen up, murderers, generally speaking, don’t make good soul mates, you know what I mean? 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MAN'S ONLY HOPE


Red Deer Advocate, November 19th, 2011. This news clip is the essential part of an article entitled, Our Only Hope: Colonize Space. Space is man’s great hope for the future, according to physicist, Stephen Hawking. Colonization of space is a beautiful, grand dream. But God has a better plan. As huge and intriguing as space is, Mr. Hawking’s hope is a shortsighted one. The Bible says that we “look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3.13.) To clarify, that is what Christians look for. And this they look for because they are convinced that man is not able, because of his sinful self, to make life any more glorious and peaceful in space than he has been able to make it on earth. Mr. Hawking believes that man may yet evolve out of his ‘selfish and aggressive instincts.’ Christians believe that man has been selfish ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, aggressive since Cain killed Abel, and that these evil tendencies will continue until the Lord brings to conclusion this present dispensation of grace.

“There are so many questions still to answer,” Mr. Hawking says near the end of this article. Yes, many, and the most elementary questions of all Mr. Hawking is still in the dark about. A fine man to be speculating on future hope! He still believes that selfishness and aggression are rooted in evolution and not sinful depravity! If there is no qualitative difference between humans and animals, as evolutionists assert, then we shouldn’t want to colonize space any more than the chickens do that we ate for supper! That is a logical deduction from the hypothesis that man is just an evolving animal. A non-spiritual, evolved monkey, which is what man is according to Darwinian Evolution, should live up to its low pedigree, and stay down on earth. 

The fact that we do aspire to something more than earthly life is proof of our qualitative superiority over the rest of creation on earth. But our sinfulness is the reason why we will not conquer space to any large degree. God will disallow it, and already has by the forbidding factors involved in a proud venture like that. There is a heavenly utopia, thankfully. In order to securing an entry into it, we need to see ourselves as sinners, be born again, have faith, and obtain the righteousness of Christ to our account. Only then are we on our way to the final frontier: eternal peace and bliss with God. As sinners and sinful creatures, we live in the created universe and on created soil only by the tolerance and benevolence of God toward the guilty. Are you sad about the mess man is making of the earth? Do what you can to counteract that. But forget about space, at least until we get the problems on earth sorted out. Colonizing space is a vain hope. “Hope thou in God” (Psalm 42.5.)

Great men of the earth are hard of hearing when it comes to divine knowledge. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1.26.) By God’s estimate, the carnal man who is brilliant must become a fool to become spiritually wise (1 Corinthians 3.18.) Then he may, with the spiritual eye of faith, look beyond the galaxies and beyond the space-time dimension, to the blessed hope that is ready to be revealed at the coming revelation of Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A PROMOTION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT


Red Deer Life, June 19th, 2010. If you are viewing this news clip and my commentary on it from outside Canada, let me assure you that the clipping speaks of a bona fide barbaric act. This is not an urban legend that the local newspaper got deceived into thinking was true.

We must keep track of what happens to a murderer like Vince Li, how he is treated, and where he ends up, not just to protect ourselves, but to see how far this liberal society of ours will go with its pro-criminal philosophy. Vince Li’s crime, because of its extremely savage nature, is a bellwether case. If someone who beheads a person in public will not be punished, then really, it is plausible that anyone might get away with any crime at all, no matter how horrific. Mental disease, because it is said by ‘experts’ to exist in so many forms and to such varying degrees, is the criminal’s favorite escape hatch, either through his own testimony or that of medical speculators. Diagnosis of mental disease is not a sure science. Our most trusted and esteemed psychiatrists and psychologists ‘diagnose’ by means of speculation. And this speculative diagnosis of mental disease in criminals is usually to the purpose of not punishing. It is easy to see why something that hinges on their opinion (the diagnosis) would be used by such ‘doctors’ to argue their case against punishing barbarians like Vince Li. Their opinion on something so nebulous as mental disorder will be made to lean in the direction of their philosophy: on the side of rehabilitation instead of punishment. There is this poet called Rumi who says there is a field beyond right and wrong, and that it is good for the soul to rest there. Our modern ‘shrinks’ are living in this imaginary field; and they want us to live there too.  

It is interesting that the greatest law code in history does not mention mental disorder as a factor to nullify or even mitigate the punishment of a murderer. We are absolute fools to dismiss the Bible’s approach in dealing with homicide. A case like Vince Li’s, as far as the Bible is concerned, is what we call a ‘cut-and-dried’ case of cold-blooded murder. The shedder of innocent blood should pay for his crime with his own blood. When justice requires rehabilitation instead of punishment, let’s call that what it is: help and protection for the guilty, but injustice for the innocent and continued danger to the community. By unproven diagnoses of mental disorder, this is where we are at today. Some doctors and lawyers will argue almost anything to spread their philosophy, gain a reputation, and make bags of money. That justice for the innocent party suffers in the process is nothing to their conscience.

Legislation is needed to counter speculative diagnoses and the philosophies that drive them. Meeting crime head on with an equality of force—this is justice. Unalloyed justice is what must be cried for, not mercy on account of mental disorder, whether actual or not. Murderers must be punished; there is no adequate measure of justice through rehabilitation. The Bible is the best law book to repair to for judging murderers. Without this infallible guide, we are led astray by emotional, unreasonable, unjust, evolving philosophies. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9.6.) This judgment is wrapped up in the reality that man is the bearer of God’s image, not the offspring of a monkey. Monkeys don’t get any justice. And those who think that man is a monkey are not likely to argue for any. But even those men who think they descend from primates are something more; they must, barring repentance, be judged as guilty men for the injustice of treating criminals like gods, and victims like monkeys. Their prayer, if they would be saved from the wrath to come, must agree in spirit with this famous one from David: “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness” (Psalm 51.14.)