Category Archives: Christian Living Blog Entries

Poetry in Christendom

ImageFollowing is a thoughtful and articulate perspective on poetry from TCS Senior Anne Spooner:

When most young adults in the twenty-first century hear the word “poetry” they think “mushy” Valentine’s day cards, Hallmark movies, and Nicholas Sparks overtures. Rarely do the words “professionalism” “talent” and “artistry” come to mind. However, it is important to recognize as a young adult that poetry is one of the highest forms of artistic language. It should not be disregarded—either in the home or in the academic world.

One of my earliest memories is my mom reading me A.A. Milne’s (the beloved author of the Winnie the Pooh stories) poems before bed, after breakfast, and anytime in between. When I was elementary age she began to read me Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems—poetry that excited my imagination and gave me a desire to construct these “word worlds” for myself. The gift of poetry was not in my personal ambition to write it but in my love for the beauty it was able to draw from the ordinary. Poetry has given me a love for words; not only the complexities of the language but the joys of words well placed. I learned to delight in the written word when I was unable to form my own sentences. Poems were perhaps the most influential in developing the love affair I have with books.  An appreciation for all good literature begins in the home. Parents and children alike will benefit from incorporating poetry into everyday reading. Diligent exposure will grow a child’s mind by teaching him the importance of word-placement and tonal aesthetics in literature. Not only will he learn to understand the techniques of poetic language, he will learn to love the layered thoughts and the illumination of the ordinary that poetry offers.

Poetry is not a focus in most schools–both public and private. There might be a short mention of a poet appropriate to the course material in a highschool classroom. However, most study (in all the humanities) shies from poetry. The language is often considered too dense for the average student to understand or appreciate. Some teachers consider poetry unnecessary except for the student who has a particular fondness for it. Both of these views inhibit the student from receiving a well-balanced education. Poetry is, like any well-written literature, thought-provoking. Teachers are invested with the mandate to challenge students. What better way than to open up their minds to language that many children and adults cannot imagine organizing into coherent thought? Poetry in many ways is what we so long to say but can “never find the words” to express. It not only teaches students to appreciate the beauty of the language but also the diversity of the way they may organize thought. One can as easily express himself writing poems as singing or painting or playing an instrument. Each one requires discipline in order to display beauty and truth.

It is important to remember that the Creator Himself used a great deal of poetry to give His Word to His people. Psalms, Song of Solomon, and others (including excerpts from other books) speak in metaphors and with creative license. This is because some things can only be understood through illusion to ideas words create and not by the words themselves. Take the example of the two lovers in Song of Solomon. Would the passages be as powerful if they were written plainly like a textbook? Of course not. The depth of the message is in the analogies, metaphors, and meter of the verse. God understands the need of words that reach into our hearts and not just our minds. Poetry is the incarnation of that loving gesture. Be encouraged to read poetry, good poetry, today. You will find yourself loving words and loving God’s Word more because of your desire to see truth and beauty in the ordinary and supernatural expressed. As T.S. Eliot has said,

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”

–Anne Spooner

Movie Night!

imgresPop some corn, put some Coke on ice, and grab a box of Junior Mints – it’s movie night!

The plot? Put four of the most brilliant minds of theology around a table to discuss Revelation Chapter 20. (Jim Hamilton, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms, and John Piper) So maybe An Evening of Eschatology is not as exciting to most people as LOTR, Star Wars, or Pirates of the Caribbean, but my goodness, it’s pretty darn exciting! I could watch this as many times as I have watched those epics. (And I may need to to get it all)

As Storms says towards the end of the video, “I think God is honored when we take this book seriously enough to do this; that we care about truth, that we believe there is objective, real truth here about what God is doing in history. And he says, ‘Wow, those guys care enough about my word, they believe it is inerrant, and infallible enough that they are willing to go toe to toe with each other in the love of Christ to try to arrive at some understanding'”.

Pre-Mil, Post-Mil. Au-Mil: Get your “last things” perspectives right here. A must see on Revelation.

The Silent Holocaust

Here is a short persuasive speech presented by Senior Anna Kenney on Feb.1 in Mrs. Mayfiled’s apologetics class.

The Silent Holocaust

            Day by day, minute by minute, precious lives are being cut short and are not even given the opportunity to breathe their first breath. Abortion has plagued the United State since 1973, with all thanks due to Roe v. Wade. This silent holocaust shall no longer remain silent.

For forty years now it has been legal to kill innocent unborn children, and one cannot begin to imagine the number of lives that have been taken in those forty years. What may seem like an easy way out of being responsible for another life, abortion produces serious moral and social concerns. With abortion come startling statistics. One out of three women have an abortion by the age of forty-five. Twenty-five percent of women who have an abortion say it is because they feel they are not ready for the responsibility. Out of the fifty states in America, twenty of them legalize abortion all the way until there is a possibility of the child sustaining life outside the womb. Although these statistics might seem shocking, they are only scratching the surface of this disgusting crime.

One of the most shocking cases personally, however, is the uncertainty of the value of children in this country under our current administration. As we all know, twenty children were murdered in a mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Our president was quick to blame this terrible act not so much on who killed the children but what he killed the children with. The current administration wants to ban guns because they have killed innocent lives and we must protect our children from these dangerous weapons. This same administration that wants to ban guns because they have killed children is the same administration that funds the killing of innocent children. I recently read that the amount of abortions in America each year is equivalent to one hundred and sixty-six Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings every single day. It is hard to trust a government that fights for something as they are killing what they are fighting for.

In the Affordable Healthcare Act it states that companies must supply their employees with contraceptives, and if they refuse to do so the companies will be indebted to the Federal Government for 1.3 million dollars. The famous arts and crafts store, Hobby Lobby, is one of these companies that have been denies to opt out of the Affordable Healthcare Act because they are not a religion affiliated company. However, the owners of Hobby Lobby are proclaimed and devout Christians and establish Christian principles throughout their company. Hobby Lobby is taking a stand against supplying their employees with abortion pills, and Christians should support and join their stand.

Why should Christians honor the sanctity of life? If one is wavering on whether life begins at conception, I strongly encourage reading David’s words in Psalm 139. In Psalm 127:3 we are reminded that children are a reward. When looking at a newborn baby I have a hard time understanding how one cannot see the beauty and purpose that is before their eyes. Our duty as Christians is to make the silent holocaust no longer silent.

Competition in Christendom

ImageThe following post was written by TCS senior Micah Weissinger…

In today’s culture, media and entertainment play a major part of everyone’s lives. I can hardly think of anyone that does not enjoy being entertained! One of the biggest forms of entertainment and personally one of my favorites is sports. If you enjoy sports at all, you are bound to find a channel for it on TV. Besides just watching sports on TV, you can always read about it or listen to it on the radio. Like I said before, sports as entertainment is huge. For many of us, the enjoyment of sports goes beyond just watching. We like to actually play sports. For a lot of people, it starts at a very young age. You’ve got T-ball for four year olds, dance for the toddler with pink bows in her hair and soccer can start basically as early as the kid can walk. For the kids who learn to love “their” sport, it usually leads to them playing competitively as they get older. Competitively being the key word. This word seems to bring a lot of questions and attention. First off, is competition even healthy for children? Anna Katzman, a clinical nurse specialist seems to think so. She writes: “Competition is, simply good:  It’s natural (as did our biological ancestors, we still compete for survival in some cases, say, for example, survival of a business); it’s what our country was founded upon; Competition can promote creativity, provide a child with a goal; it can teach children how to lose and lose graciously; it’s fun; it can be rewarding; it can help kids stand out as individuals”. I would say all those things sound pretty good. Well, Mr. Alfie Kohn, author of 12 books about human behavior, including No Contest: The Case Against Competition, claims: The “very phrase ‘healthy competition’ is actually a contradiction in terms… Some things are inherently destructive. Competition, which simply means that one person can succeed only if others fail, is one of those things.” So in short, Mr. Kohn is saying that winning because others failed is a bad thing. If we look deeper into this idea though, I think we might find out quite differently.

At a very young age, we are able to see the desire in kids to win or beat an opponent in almost anything – from who can brush their teeth the fastest to who can hit the baseball the farthest, the desire to win is there from the beginning. In Corinthians, we read “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” That to me sounds like strong support for competition from a Christian viewpoint. What about if you’re not a Christian though? If you just look at the world, you can quickly see that it runs on competition. Can you even imagine what it would be like if there wasn’t competition for anything? I sure can’t.

As I said before, we are born with the desire to compete and we see that come out in almost everything. As with all desires though, they can be corrupted. There is a time and place for everything and when competition is not used in the right way or right time, things can most definitely get out of hand. This could be called unhealthy competition which is when your reaction to others’ success is negative, rather than inspiring and motivating to you. Unhealthy competition is where you hope others have limitations because you are afraid your limitations will cause you to lose unless they are somehow held back. Unhealthy competition is where you associate shame with losing rather than see your own nobility for trying.

Healthy competition on the other hand encourages everyone involved to push themselves harder than they would have without competition, and as a result they achieve more personal or professional growth whether they won or lost. Healthy competition expands the boundaries of what you believed was possible for yourself.  There are some serious benefits to this kind of healthy competition especially when these values are instilled at a young age. When learned at a young age, you can begin to excel at things you love while still helping others to do the same. It also helps with the transition of moving out into the world where literally everything is a stiff competition. Besides these few things, there are endless health benefits to kids staying active through sports and let’s not be quick to forget how much fun sports are in the first place!

So now, let’s go back and look at competition in sports for kids. In dealing with healthy competition, there are only positives. There are so many different sports and so many things you can do with each and every one. A child can learn valuable life lessons, stay healthy and active and have an absolute blast while doing it all!

Biblical Hospitality

Image

Written by McKenzie Warmouth

As born and bred Southerners, nobody understands the term “Southern Hospitality” better than we do: Its cooking incessantly for any and everybody, treating an absolute stranger like a long lost brother and immediately offering him a cool glass of sweet tea, its eating lunch at a different persons house every Sunday afternoon. Southern hospitality is a wonderful thing – something Southerners are known for and proud of…

But is there a deeper calling that we as Christians have to be hospitable? A calling that requires of us a sacrifice that won’t always fill us with Southern pride?

When we look deeply into what the Bible requires of us in regards to hospitality, we must see that it isn’t always a comforting feeling. Hospitality, in fact, requires us often to give up of our comfort. So what is it that God wants us to focus on when it comes to hospitality?  A familiar verse in Philippians reminds us that hospitality is really only a means by which we can demonstrate selflessness. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

What does this verse tell us about hospitality? It reminds us that God blesses us most when we sacrifice ourselves in order to bless others. That is the true meaning of hospitality – and if that is demonstrated through fried chicken and sweet tea, then it is a wonderful thing. However, there is often so much more to it. Sometimes, its giving our of house to someone who needs a place to stay, sometimes its sacrificing our afternoon to visit the sick or the physically and spiritually needy.

A few years ago, my parents decided that they would devote Saturday evenings to taking my grandparents, extended family, or church family members in and fellowshipping with them the evening before the Sabbath. As much joy as my family always ends up receiving from this, it would be far, far easier not to do it at all then it is to do so. It requires that my family wake up at a decent hour on Saturday mornings, that my mom spend her entire day off cleaning the house from top to bottom, and cooking a dinner fit more for royalty that it is for my family. It requires her to plan a dessert and a bible study or movie night. It requires that I finish my homework and various chores for my family before I make other plans. It requires that I spend more time with our guests then in my room or with my homework or friends, or doing whatever else I would rather be doing. It requires sacrifice, something my mom demonstrates and teaches me to demonstrate every weekend as she diligently prepares from the hour she wakes up until the hour our company leaves. Yes, she’d probably rather sleep in, she’d probably rather get her day off and do as she pleases… But, she understands the importance of giving, and, every weekend, she is blessed in return through the fellowship of those she gives to.

The very most important element of hospitality is the blatantly obvious one for Christians – the one in which we do what we are always told to do – imitate Christ. Were I to describe hospitality to someone who had never heard of it, I’d use the words “Hospitality is when you take someone in and treat him selflessly” – The key word being “selflessly” as we’ve discussed. But what is it that we do selflessly? – TAKE SOMEONE IN. If we think about it, these are the key phrases as well that sum up the very essence of Jesus and what He means to us. What is our salvation based upon? Everything we are, everything we stand and fight for, is based upon our faith that Jesus was selfless enough to take us in, and not just as guests, but as permanent residents. We think that cooking and cleaning is a sacrifice to be made in preparations for our guest’s arrival. Think of what Jesus had to do to prepare for us! We certainly couldn’t have made it to heaven if He hadn’t prepared us, if He hadn’t created a pathway that lead us there. He didn’t give up His comfort or His Saturday, He gave up His life. He didn’t fix us dinner, hand us sweet tea, and send us on our way, He fixed our broken souls, handed us eternity, and sent us to paradise. Southern hospitality is a fun and lovely thing by which all Southerners should grow up learning to abide. But we must realize that hospitality goes deeper than our ancestral roots and Southern pride. True hospitality is a sacrifice of oneself in imitation of and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Matthew wrote, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? …

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Liberty: Blessing or Entitlement?

ImageOne of the things that I love most about my job is getting to observe classes. I try to get into at least one class per day, or at least three per week. Last Friday I had the privilege of sitting in on Mrs. Mayfield’s Rhetoric class. The seniors each presented a 4-minute persuasive speech. Afterwards I asked some of them if they would mind sharing them with the world through my blog. One by one they are trickling in. Here is the one my daughter wrote. A thoughtful treatise on submission to government by McKenzie Warmouth.

Just the word “government” is more than enough to make most Americans cringe. We spend a significant fraction of our days engaging in heated discussions about rights being taken away from us, becoming overwhelmingly frustrated about new controlling government policies and institutions that America seems to be blindly falling for, and watching youtube videos of sure proof of government conspiracies perfectly designed to gain ultimate control. And there has been no topic more frequently discussed in the past few weeks than the horrible debate about gun control. Not even to mentions things like government encroachment into our education, banking, internet systems and student loans – all of it is more than enough to make us wonder why and how we got ourselves into this situation. America was born in liberty – a liberty that we may not have too much longer and have already begun to lose. However, as much as I believe in the freeing principles upon which America began, I have been recently reminded of this familiar verse in Romans: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”

You’ve heard it over and over and over – we are to submit to our authorities. We’ve been taught to do it all of our lives – first to our parents, then to our Sunday School teachers and classroom authorities. And now that we are in a position to make a difference in our nation, we must realize the submission we must have to our government.

I’m sure you are wondering if I’ve really just thrown out to you a bunch of aggravating information about the government’s undeniable attempts at taking away your freedom, then spent the last few moments giving you Bible references about why you should be okay with this? Maybe I did, but I think that, for Christians, we have to go quite a bit deeper. Where do we come in when God tells us to submit to a government that’s so against Him?

In Jesus’ time, the Roman government was the worst of the worst. Jesus’ government was the controlling and freedom stripping government that we fear today.  However, Jesus never said one word about it! He never once ranted as his freedoms were taken. In fact, He knew that they were going to be. He knew that ours were going to be. He said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” He said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. As our freedoms are being taken away, we must not be tempted to sin in rebellion. We must remember that, as His judgment falls upon our nation, God commands us to love His discipline.

So what are we to do?!?! Does God really want us to stand aside and let tyranny overturn America and sin run rampant? This is where Christians come in in a way that others cannot. God wants us to fight for what is right, doesn’t He? Sure He does, but let’s fight the right battles! Lets fight against the sin for which we are being disciplined and not against the discipline itself. We have no right to earthly liberties apart from Christ and if He sees fit to take them away, then that is something we should not fight against, but rest in. Lets, for a moment, turn our attention away from our personal liberties and look to what God’s judgment is for. What if the 8,731,568 people in the US who presently possess handgun permits were as passionate about putting a stop to abortion as they are about keeping their handgun rights? If all those people thought two seconds about abortion, or homosexual marriage, or any of the other sins for which we are being judged, could they not realize that those sins might be at the root of America’s problems. Maybe its time for us to realize that sin is where we find our real battles, and freedom is only a pleasant blessing that accompanies harmony with God. I am not saying that America isn’t a blessed and beautiful nation when freedom reigns. Free is how America was born and how she thrives. But freedom is just that – a blessing, not a guarantee. And if freedom is taken away for something we’ve done, its time to fix the problem, not rebel against the discipline. My mom tells her second graders every day that obedience leads to freedom. If they color inside the lines the first time she asks them to, then they don’t have to spend their recess time re-doing their work. They have that time to be free. Obedience to God will lead to a freedom for Americans. When we learn to walk in submission to Him, we will elect wise leaders and pass biblical laws that will set us free. Christians have a head start in this area. We know that our true and ultimate liberties in Christ have no limits and cannot be taken away – even if our guns are. We will ultimately have more freedom in our spiritual life than even the most perfect earthly government could give us. Christians then have rather a noble calling if we are to remind the world that obedience leads to freedom. A calling that, if fulfilled, will lead us back to the liberty everyone is so ready to fight for.

For, as the Psalmist reminds us, “The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil. Lord, do good to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. But those who turn to crooked ways the Lord will banish with the evildoers. Peace be on Israel….”

The Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates

I thought this was an excellent video blog by Doug Wilson and Ben Merkle on a Christian’s response to gun control and tyrannical government from a biblical perspective. I am ashamed to say that I was unfamiliar with the Doctrine of Interposition (Lesser Magistrates) until last  evening, but it is something that we should all be educated about, or at least mindful of. It is a beautiful Christian doctrine first and foremost, and something we can claim at the local and state level, politically speaking. After watching this short video, I’d recommend the following link for a good read on the doctrine of interposition. From it you can read many historical examples from  both the Bible and the church, including from Calvin’s Institutes, as well as the political application of the doctrine.

http://publisherscorner.nordskogpublishing.com/2008/01/eidsmoe-john-doctrine-of-interposition.html

Why I love Doug Wilson

Logic and reasoning based on  genuine faith in scripture.

“Diversity is not the sort of thing you can get if you have signs and slogans and you cluster around with people that agree with you.” Douglas Wilson, Indiana State University, April 13, 2012.

Doug wilson can make these kinds of statements because he routinely accepts invitations to put himself in the line of fire for the sake of the gospel. He is unflappable because he knows what the word of God says about ____________, (fill in the blank) and his position is always based on that.

Here is a video of Doug Wilson at Indiana State University a couple days ago. Some homosexual activists broke into a protest. (warning: profane language is abundant from the protestors) Wilson shrugs it off easily and cooly. Here is what one comment on an atheist website said about the debacle:

Paul Spencer Says:
April 14th, 2012 at 2:45 PM
I attended Doug Wilson’s lecture last night as an interested atheist. I was particularly interested to see how a noted theologian and author would respond to anti-religious arguments based on logical reasoning. In other words, in the wake of his years trying to rebut the late Christopher Hitchens, I was looking forward to some finely-honed responses from Doug Wilson.
Instead, I was inflicted with the spectacle of what amounted to a “gay mafia” trying to shout down anyone who dared to disagree with them. I was amazed and disgusted to see people — who were supposedly smart enough to be admitted to a top-tier university — behaving in such an infantile manner.
Questions that were directed … or rather, **hurled** toward Mr. Wilson amounted to nothing more than fallacies of one sort or another, which he easily dismissed.
When President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace almost 40 years ago, he offered a pearl of wisdom that applies here:
“Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”
That’s exactly what happened last night.

And here is the video. You have to watch to the end to get a taste of Wilson’s wit and confidence in Christ.

You can read Doug’s take on the whole matter here. 

October Baby

This Friday a movie will be coming to the Wynnsong 16 theater in Auburn as well as to theaters in Columbus, LaGrange, and around the country. I would like to encourage everyone to go and see it, tell your church groups, and buy tickets for unbelievers or people who may be at risk for seeking abortion. The movie is called October Baby. It is about a young lady who discovers that she survived an abortion attempt as a baby. It is a distinctly pro-life movie. One of the things that is great about this film, besides its message, is the fact that it is well done. The actors are professionals, the directors are educated in filmmaking and have paid their dues on other Hollywood productions, and the cinematography and post-production work are stunning. This is the kind of work we as Christians need to be showing the world. Don’t get me wrong, I really love the other Christian films that have been released in the past few years, but my understanding is that October Baby puts them to shame in production value. Let’s send a clear message to the film industry that we will pay to see well-produced movies with a Christian worldview. Here is the link to the official website for the movie, including a trailer and online ticket purchasing option: http://octoberbabymovie.net/

Here is a link to WorldMag’s review of the movie. This review is well worth reading!: http://www.worldmag.com/articles/18856

In the Image

I remember one time when my daughter was little, she came home from playing at a friend’s house and she was very upset. After a brief interview, the source of her frustration became obvious.Her little friend was “copying” her and it was “so annoying.” “Daddy,” she said, “she copies everything I do. I got my haircut and the next day she got hers cut the same way. Mama got me that plaid outfit and she got the exact same one. But today it was the worst. She got the exact same bike that I just got. Why does she have to do everything the exact same as me? Why can’t she just be herself?” After hearing her laments, her mother and I began to explain to her that imitation is the sincerest form of a compliment. We explained that her little friend simply loved her so much that she wanted to be just like her. What she didn’t understand at the time, but does now, is that imitation is a part of the created order. Being made in the image of God, mankind has an innate desire to imitate Him. We may not realize it, and some may even adamantly deny it, but the desire is still there. God put that desire within us for our own good. We can see it everywhere. Take art for example. We admire art that is a good likeness of the original. Same goes for photography, movies made after books, and Elvis impersonators. Music and movies tend to follow a prescribed pattern of imitation of other music and movies that are good (and profitable).

In keeping with God’s design for imitation he even gave himself to us in the image of man. That image was Christ, the atonement for our sins.

We are more than fortunate to have a God that makes life interesting for us and gives us gifts and abilities like beauty and the ability to imitate that beauty. We must always remember though, that the original comes from God, and no imitation is ever as good as the original. It can be great, but not quite the same. God, being the creator of it all is the ultimate thing to be imitated. That is why, I believe, he gave us the ability and desire to imitate. We are called in his Word (Eph. 5:1-2, Matt. 5:48, Luke 6:36, Eph. 4:32) to imitate God. When we make that the focus of our life (one day at a time) we begin to reach milestones in our sanctification, bring proper glory to God by exemplifying His nature, become a witness to unbelievers, and an encouragement to other believers.

Simply amazing.