This little moment of fame for one Downs Syndrome child has apparently already accomplished a lot. It's got an influential group of Canadian doctors up in arms with concern that seeing this child might prevent mothers from aborting their possibly Downs Syndrome infants: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.ph
Election politics aside, and opinions of Sarah Palin aside, (and I will refuse to discuss election politics on my blog as well as in most other places) I must say that , this has been a golden moment for Downs Syndrome children, those living and those not-yet conceived. As a woman at high "risk" for giving birth to such a child, should I by some miracle actually conceive in the first place, I'm glad to see anything that would make the world a more welcoming place for my hypothetical Downs Syndrome child, and of course for those very real, living and breathing children who are truly just the remnants - the 10% or so who have survived this particular secret holocaust.
Tagged by jilrani
1. How many songs are on your Ipod? my Ipod technically belongs to my husband, but he keeps a file of sermons and lectures for me to listen to while I'm at work. (He has 8433 songs.)
2. What do you do before bedtime? Paul goes to bed earlier than I. So I read the Bible with him in bed, then, while he sleeps, I do dishes, laundry, blog....until my bedtime, when I read a bit before falling to sleep.
3. What magazines do you have subscriptions to? Smithsonian & Tabletalk
4. What is your favorite sound? expository preaching (and in particular the comforting voices of R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper, and strangely enough, James White).
5. If you had a million dollars that you could spend only on yourself, what would you do with it? pay off my mortgage and do all our home improvements (especially fencing in the back yard), get medical insurance and get a check-up for everyone in my family - pets included, buy a new computer and a copier for the church (I know that's not for me, but I do the bulletins, so in a way it is for me), build up our personal library, get a new pair of reading glasses, oh, and take my car to the shop. I can't really think of anything else.
6 What is your theme song? Before I was a Christian, it would probably have been Blasphemous Rumours, by Depeche Mode, not because it was my favorite, but because it represented my outlook. I'm not sure I have one now (I'm not a very musical person), but if I had to pick it would be either How Great Thou Art or Great is Thy Faithfulness.
7. Do you trust easily? No
8. Do you generally think before you act or act before you think? think first
9. Is there anything that makes you unhappy these days? yes, pre-election vitriol
10. Do you have a good body image? I guess, I try not to think about it.
11. Is being tagged fun? Usually
12. What websites do you visit daily? Live Journal, my blog and friends' blogs, email, CNN, the local newspaper
13. What have you been addicted to lately? nothing, unless you want to count the Internet
14.What kind of person do you think is the person who tagged you? smart, industrious, loyal, devout
15. What's the last song that got stuck in your head? Come Thou fount of every blessing....
16.What's your favorite item of clothing? my olive drab shorts
17. What's your favorite cereal? granola
18. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground? pick it up. If there were no people around I would keep it. If folks were nearby I would probably ask if someone lost some money....
19. What items could you not go without during the day? "could" is a strong term, so food and water. "Would" is a bit different, things I'd miss if I didn't have them. I'd say my husband, my Bible or some related literature, my kids, my pets, food, Diet Pepsi, my cell phone, chapstick.
20. What should you be doing right now? pulling dinner out of the oven. Which I'll go do right now
My pastor sent this out this morning via e-mail. I've posted it here for my future reference, and for the benifit of those who may not have read it already. It is very concise, very helpful, and very true. These are the effects the Doctrines of Grace have had upon me.
Ten Effects of Believing in the Five Points of Calvinism by Dr. John Piper
(April 20, 2002)
These ten points are my personal testimony to the effects of believing in the five points of Calvinism. I have just completed teaching a seminar on this topic and was asked by the class members to post these reflections so they could have access to them. I am happy to do so. They, of course, assume the content of the course, which is available on tape from Desiring God Ministries, but I will put them here for wider use in the hope that they might stir others to search, Berean-like, to see if the Bible teaches what I call "Calvinism."
1. These truths make me stand in awe of God and lead me into the depth of true God-centered worship.
I recall the time I first saw, while teaching Ephesians at Bethel College in the late '70's, the threefold statement of the goal of all God's work, namely, "to the praise of the glory of his grace" (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).It has led me to see that we cannot enrich God and that therefore his glory shines most brightly not when we try to meet his needs but when we are satisfied in him as the essence of our deeds. "From him and through him and to him are all things. To him the glory forever" (Romans 11:36). Worship becomes an end in itself.It has made me feel how low and inadequate are my affections, so that the Psalms of longing come alive and make worship intense.
2. These truths help protect me from trifling with divine things.
One of the curses of our culture is banality, cuteness, cleverness. Television is the main sustainer of our addiction to superficiality and triviality.God is swept into this. Hence the trifling with divine things.Earnestness is not excessive in our day. It might have been once. And, yes, there are imbalances in certain people today who don't seem to be able to relax and talk about the weather.Robertson Nicole said of Spurgeon, "Evangelism of the humorous type [we might say, church growth of the marketing type] may attract multitudes, but it lays the soul in ashes and destroys the very germs of religion. Mr. Spurgeon is often thought by those who do not know his sermons to have been a humorous preacher. As a matter of fact there was no preacher whose tone was more uniformly earnest, reverent and solemn" (Quoted in The Supremacy of God in Preaching, p. 57).
3. These truths make me marvel at my own salvation.
After laying out the great, God-wrought salvation in Ephesians 1, Paul prays, in the last part of that chapter, that the effect of that theology will be the enlightenment of our hearts so that we marvel at our hope, and at the riches of the glory of our inheritance, and at the power of God at work in us – that is, the power to raise the dead.Every ground of boasting is removed. Brokenhearted joy and gratitude abound.The piety of Jonathan Edwards begins to grow. When God has given us a taste of his own majesty and our own wickedness, then the Christian life becomes a thing very different than conventional piety. Edwards describes it beautifully when he says,The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope, and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior (Religious Affections, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959, pp. 339f).
4. These truths make me alert to man-centered substitutes that pose as good news.
In my book, The Pleasures of God (2000), pp. 144-145, I show that in the 18th century in New England the slide from the sovereignty of God led to Arminianism and thence to universalism and thence to Unitarianism.
The same thing happened in England in the 19thcentury after Spurgeon.Iain Murray's Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1987), p. 454, documents the same thing: "Calvinistic convictions waned in North America. In the progress of the decline which Edwards had rightly anticipated, those Congregational churches of New England which had embraced Arminianism after the Great Awakening gradually moved into Unitarianism and universalism, led by Charles Chauncy."
You can also read in J. I. Packer's Quest for Godliness (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), p. 160, how Richard Baxter forsook these teachings and how the following generations reaped a grim harvest in the Baxter church in Kidderminster.
These doctrines are a bulwark against man-centered teachings in many forms that gradually corrupt the church and make her weak from the inside, all the while looking strong or popular.1 Timothy 3:15, "The church of the living God [is] the pillar and bulwark of the truth."
5. These truths make me groan over the indescribable disease of our secular, God-belittling culture.
I can hardly read the newspaper or look at a TV ad or a billboard without feeling the burden that God is missing.When God is the main reality in the universe and is treated as a non-reality, I tremble at the wrath that is being stored up. I am able to be shocked. So many Christians are sedated with the same drug as the world. But these teachings are a great antidote.And I pray for awakening and revival.And I try to preach to create a people that are so God-saturated that they will show and tell God everywhere and all the time.We exist to reassert the reality of God and the supremacy of God in all of life.
6. These truths make me confident that the work which God planned and began, he will finish – both globally and personally.
This is the point of Romans 8:28-39.And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
7. These truths make me see everything in the light of God's sovereign purposes – that from him and through him and to him are all things, to him be glory forever and ever.
All of life relates to God. There's no compartment where he is not all-important and the one who gives meaning to everything. 1 Corinthians 10:31. Seeing God's sovereign purpose worked out in Scripture, and hearing Paul say that "he accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11) makes me see the world this way.
8. These truths make me hopeful that God has the will, the right, and the power to answer prayer that people be changed.
The warrant for prayer is that God may break in and change things – including the human heart. He can turn the will around. "Hallowed be thy name" means: cause people to hallow your name. "May your word run and be glorified" means: cause hearts to be opened to the gospel.We should take the New Covenant promises and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and in our neighbors and among all the mission fields of the world.
"God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give him a new heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 11:19).
"Lord, circumcise their hearts so that they love you" (Deuteronomy 30:6).
"Father, put your spirit within them and cause them to walk in Your statutes" (Ezekiel 36:27).
"Lord, grant them repentance and the knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil" (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
"Father, open their hearts so that they believe the gospel" (Acts 16:14).
9. These truths remind me that evangelism is absolutely essential for people to come to Christ and be saved, and that there is great hope for success in leading people to faith, but that conversion is not finally dependent on me or limited by the hardness of the unbeliever.
So it gives hope to evangelism, especially in the hard places and among the hard peoples.
John 10:16, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also. They will heed my voice."
It is God's work. Throw yourself into it with abandon.
10. These truths make me sure that God will triumph in the end.
Isaiah 46:9-10, "I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand that I will accomplish all my purpose'"Putting them altogether: God gets the glory and we get the joy.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org.Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.
I found this chapter really helpful. I come from a non-reformed background, where the Scripture was used in just about everyway imaginable, but seldom in the way in which God intended it to be used This chapter has a lot to teach regarding everyday discernment, in the correct use of Scripture, in dealing with others, and our own hearts. It is often the case, within and without the Church, that we encounter people communicating with great passion, and as a result we can be moved, not necessarily by what is actually being said as much as by their forcefulness and the variety of strong feelings evoked in us. It is critical that we be able to set aside, to the degree necessary for clear thinking, our strong emotional responses to communications that impact our lives, so that we can examine what is actually being said for its truth and value. It is also important to recognize that the people we interact with in our lives are often swayed by strong emotions, which may prohibit them from thinking clearly about any number of issues. We must be careful not to persuade, or be persuaded by heavy-handed emotions. Strong emotion does not guarantee the rightness or wrongness of any idea or opinion, nor is it a reliable sign of true religious affection.
As Edwards says: "Holy affections are not heat without light; but evermore arise from some information of the understanding, some apiritual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual knowledge. The child of God is graciously affected, because he sees and understands something more of divine things than he did before, more of God or Chirst and of the glorious things exhibited in the gospel; he has some clearer and better view than he had before, when he was not affected.... Knowledge is the key that frst opens the hard heart and enlarges the affections, and so opens the way for men into the kingdom of heaven....
Now there are many affections which don't arise from any light in the understanding. And when it is thus, it is a sure evidence that these affections are not spiritual, let them be ever so high." In other words, if the emotion you are feeling isn't a direct result of a new or clearer understanding of God our Saviour, "the attributes or perfections of his nature", then those emotions/affections are not spiritual, just plain, run-of-the-mill fleshly feelings.
Now, to make this concept stand out more clearly, Edwards does what he so often does, provides contrasts. I often find it very helpful when he begins sweeping away the many things that are not true spiritual affections. As he clears those away it's easier to see what he's pointing at. Here are a a few examples: "...affections arising from texts of Scripture coming to the mind are vain, when no instruction received in the understanding from those texts, or anything taught in those texts, is the ground of the affection, but the manner of their coming to mind. When Christ makes the Scripture a means of the heart's burning with gracious affection, 'tis by opening the Scriptures to their understandings....it appears also that the affection which is occasioned by the coming of a text of Scripture must be vain, when the affection is founded on something that is supposed to be taught by it, which really is not contained in it, nor in any other Scripture; because such supposed instruction is not real instruction, but a mistake, and misapprehension of the mind". This speaks to any number of practices, but one that comes to mind is when a verse of Scripture "jumps out at someone" and is taken to be a promise from God speaking directly to the outcome of their specific circumstance. I read a book once by a woman who started her public ministry (which, by the way, would involve teaching mixed groups of women and men) on a certain date and month of the year because of a passage in the Old Testament which "jumped out at her" in which a certain event progressed on that day. She had taken that to mean that as a word from God as to when she should begin. That is clearly not what that passage was meant to be used for. As Edwards says, "...things be not to be learned from the Scripture any other way than they are taught in the Scripture."
Next is the one that really hit home for me, describing much of what used to keep me interested in my days as a false professor of faith: "...they ascribe many of the workings of their own minds, which they have a high opinion of, and are pleased and taken with, to the special immediate influences of God's Spirit; and so are mightily affected, with their privilege." This is the mindset of one who loves Shakespeare not because they love Shakespeare, but because of how smart it makes them feel that they can read and understand him. Then this mindset is applied to the Scriptures.
Further he says, "'Tis possible that a man might know how to interpret all the types, parables, enigmas, and allegories in the Bible, and not have one beam of spiritual light in his mind; because he mayn't have the least degree of that spiritual sense of the holy beauty of divine things which has been spoken of, and may see nothing of this kind of glory in anything contained in any of these mysteries, or any other part of the Scripture. 'Tis plain, by what the Apostle says, that a man might understand all such mysteries, and have no saving grace; 'And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing' (1 Cor. 13:2). They therefore are very foolish who are exalted in an opinion of thier own spiritual attainments, from notions that come into thier minds, of the mystical meaning of these and those passages of Scripture, as though it was a spiritual understanding of these passages, immediately given 'em by the Spirit of God, and hence have their affection highly raised; and what has been said shows the vanity of such affections."
So it is clear that Edwards goal here is discernment. He says, "...we come necessarily to this conclusion, concerning that wherein spiritual understanding consists; viz. that it consists in a sense of the heart, of the supreme beauty and sweetness of the holiness or moral perfection of divine things, together with all that discerning and knowledge of things of religion, that depends upon, and flows from such a sense.
At this point you may be getting the idea that this is all meant to be a cold, calculated, emotionless thing. Edwards anticipates that and moves on to quickly remedy that notion: "There is a distinction to be made betwen a mere notional understanding, wherein the mind only beholds things in the exercise of a speculative faculty; and the sense of the heart, wherein the mind don't only speculate and behold, but relishes and feels...more than the mere intellect is concerned; the heart is the proper subject of it....And yet there is the nature of instruction in it; as he that has perceived the sweet taste of honey, knows much more about it, than he who has only looked upon and felt of it."
Edwards then goes to some length to explain for us the right use of Scripture, which I found extremely helpful. Here's a snippet: "Spiritually to understand the Scripture, is rightly to understand what is in the Scripture, and what was in it before it was understood: 'tis to understand rightly, what used to be contained in the meaning of it; and not the making a new meaning.....This making a new meaning to the Scirpture, is the same thing as making a new Scripture: it is properly adding to the Word; which is threatened with so dreadful a curse. Spiritually to understand the Scripture, is to have the eyes of the mind opened, to behold the wonderful spiritual excellency of the glorious things contained in the true meaning of it, and that always were contained in it, ever since it was written....Which things are, and always were in theBible, and would have been seen before, if it had not been for blindness, without having any new sense added by the words being sent by God to a particular person, and spoken anew to him, with a new meaning."
(all emphasis mine)
By the way, for those of you on Blogger/Blogspot, I'm beginning to maintain my Blog over there now. For the time being the posts will probably be identical on both sites. I'm test driving it for a while as I try to decide which one to stick with - or whether I'll keep two different ones. Here's the link: http://lauriemo.blogspot.com/