Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wheelchairs and Obedience


Readers of Rantifestos,

Today was amazing for several reasons. Firstly, I got to visit my dad at work with my mom. The second one was particularly epic: I (finally) got to drive one of the motorized scooters that they have available at most supermarkets for...people like me, who recently had surgery and/or can't walk very far. I took a few videos (which are available above) of my escapades around Target. For you scooter enthusiasts or those who compete in indoor supermarket racing (I know you're out there) it takes approximately 8 minutes to do a lap around a typical Target store.

A Love That Conquers...

"The love for equals is a human thing - of friend for friend, brother for brother.  It is to love what is loving and lovely.  The world smiles.  The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing, the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely.  This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.  The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing, to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man.  The world is always bewildered by its saints.  And then there is the love for the enemy, love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens and inflicts pain.  The tortured's love for the torturer.  This is God's love.  It conquers the world."

-Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat


-Reed

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Peace That Passeth All Understanding

Readers of Rantifestos,
Thank you for praying! The surgery went well, and I am recovering just fine. The whole ordeal was pretty tiring, but I just wanted to share a few post-surgery thoughts with you.

Peace
The surgery I had today was by no means a highly-invasive, especially dangerous procedure. It was fairly simple and straightforward in terms of most surgical endeavors. However, there is a inherent risk that is inextricably connected to any medical procedure (except washing your hands). And, to be honest, I was nervous going into it. I wasn't worried, but I was definitely a little nervous. That is, I didn't have a tangible fear that something bad could happen, but I was definitely 'excited' by the risk of the potential. But, after praying and dwelling on Scriptural truths the night before and up until before the actual surgery, I was completely at peace. To know, without a shadow of a doubt, my eternal destiny and Him who made it possible, was (and is) something that nearly brought me to tears. There was such righteous abandon, such peace. This passage from Philippians came to mind:

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)


I cannot fully express what a blessing it was to have the eternal security that Christ has bought for us. If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and savior, I implore you to come to a saving knowledge of His grace. I cannot imagine facing anything, much less a simple surgery, without that knowledge. I would be constantly and permanently petrified. I look forward to writing to you all again soon, Lord willing.


peace,


Mark



Pray for Joplin





More can be seen here.

-Reed

Monday, May 23, 2011

Under the knife...

Readers of Rantifestos,
Tomorrow I'm having surgery on my right knee to reconstruct a torn ACl as well as to repair the medial and lateral menisci. I would greatly appreciate your prayers! It is truly such a blessing to lean on and realize the sovereignty of God in times like this. I realize that the surgery is by no means extensively invasive or risky, but nonetheless it is still surgery. The Lord is in control, however, and to that I cling. Also, on a more blogging-related note, I will finally have time to begin the spiritual warfare series...as well as blog on many more topics that I have as of late been too busy to sit down and devote time to. You'll probably be hearing a lot from me since I'll be largely incapacitated for a few weeks. I look forward to writing! See you on the other side...

grace and peace,

Mark

Also, if you enjoy medically-related things a good video of an ACL reconstruction can be found here  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sad Stories of the Non-Apocalypse

But about the day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.
Matthew 24:36 & 44

It really is saddening to hear the tragic stories of those who were so caught up in the May 21st, Judgement day, predictions.  They spent their live savings, traveled thousands of miles, and were extremely mislead.

Pray that the church will show love and compassion to those swallowed in yet another failed attempt to predict the end times.

Here's a great bit from The Atlantic:


If you hadn't noticed, the world didn't end yesterday, despite predictionsby radio host Harold Camping, who spent a multimillion dollar campaign spreading the word, funded by donations from other believers. But while many were "celebrating" the Earth's continued existence at "Rapture Parties," for Camping's believers, the noticeable lack of earthquakes, brimstone, famine, and death was deeply disappointing.
In New York, retired transportation agency worker Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent "over $140,000 of his savings on subway posters and outdoor advertisements," stood in Times Square at 6 p.m., Reuters reports.
When the hour came and went, he said: "I do not understand why ...," as his speech broke off and he looked at his watch.
"I do not understand why nothing has happened."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Can the Rich Enter Heaven?

Readers of Rantifestos,

Here's a great bit from my readings of Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

Robert Murray M'Cheyne was a Scottish pastor who died at the age of 29.  Although he lived in the early part of the 19th century, his words are astoundingly appropriate for today:


"I am concerned for the poor but more for you.  I know not what Christ will say to yo uin the great day...I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians because they do no love to give.  To give largely and liberally, no grudgingly at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money.  Oh my friends!  Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggers throughout eternity"


The reality is that, whether we acknowledge our wealth or not, being rich is a serious disadvantage spiritually.  As William Wilberforce once said, "Prosperity hardens the heart."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How To Read A Book

Readers of Rantifestos,
On my summer reading list is Mortimer J. Adlers classic on how to read a book, How to Read A Book (see what I did there?). It's gotten high praise from several pastors/prominent figures I admire (namely Piper and Taylor, among others), and I'd encourage you to 1) READ and 2) read this book (again, see what I did there?). Below is Justin Taylor on the book and how to read intelligently. If nothing, at least read the first few paragraphs; they will bless you!

read,

Mark


original post here



Good Reading and Good Thinking as a Prerequisite to Good Writing



thegospcoal-20.gifPeter Kreeft, in Socratic Logic, pp. 2-3:
On the basis of over 40 years of full time college teaching of almost 20,000 students at 20 different schools, I am convinced that one of the reasons for the steep decline in students’ reading abilities is the decline in the teaching of traditional logic.
Mortimer Adler’s classic How to Read a Book is based on the traditional common-sense logic of the “three acts of the mind” [simple apprehension, judging, reasoning]. . . . If I were a college president, I would require every incoming freshman to read Adler’s book and pass a test on it before taking other courses.
. . . . [C]lear writing and thinking are a “package deal”: the presence or absence of either one brings the presence or absence of the other. Muddled writings fosters muddled thinking, and muddled thinking fosters muddled writing. Clear writing fosters clear thinking, and clear thinking fosters clear writing. . . .
There is nothing more effective than traditional logic in training you to be a clear, effective, and careful writer.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Royal Wedding: Has Romance Eclipsed Reality?

Readers of Rantifestos,
Yes, I know. 1) I will lose man points for posting about this and 2) this is a bit late. To be honest, I was so busy with finals that I didn't know the Royal Wedding had taken place till I'd gotten a news email update about it on my phone. And in reality I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to it anyways, finals or not. However, such a high profile wedding does indeed bring marriage literally to the attention of millions (was it billions? I don't know). Mary Kassian had some good things to say about it and brought a balanced perspective from a complementarion woman. Hope you enjoy!

remember the reality of marriage,

Mark


Original post here


The Royal Wedding

Mary Kassian | May 2, 2011 | Comments (10)

Last week, over 2 billion viewers—about a third of the world’s population—watched the Royal Wedding. As is common in marriage ceremonies, the Officiate opened with:
“Dearly Beloved; we are gathered here in the sight of God and in the face of this congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony—which is an honorable estate, instituted by God Himself, signifying to us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His Church . . .”
I wonder how many observers caught the depth of meaning in those opening words. That one sentence contains some profound, staggering truths about marriage and the meaning of manhood and womanhood and sex.

Angels and Demons (no, not the book)


Readers of Rantifestos,
Spiritual warfare, the spiritual realm, and the entities known as angels and demons have all been topics of discussion in this past school year for me. They have been the topic of conversations with friends and discussions in bible study. As they've been on my mind recently, I thought I would write to you all about them and hopefully start a discussion.

Are We At War?
So, demons and angels battling out a cosmic level war with the souls of millions at stake, eh? That story must not have made it to the news stations with Osama finally kicking the bucket and what-not. Probably because it's poppycock; totally unbelievable and inconsistent with reality. Not testable, repeatable, or observable. Of course! Or maybe it's because while these beings exist in a non-corporeal state that we cannot constantly or consistently observe, we as sinners are duped into thinking they don't exist at all and in doing so fool ourselves into thinking that part of reality simply doesn't exist. Scripture very clearly speaks to the existence of these spiritual entities throughout the New and Old testaments. In this first installment of a five-part series on spiritual warfare, I will address demons and a Christian's relationship to them. The topical flow of the next five posts will be as follows:


Spiritual Warfare:
1. Demons: What, where, and why?
2. Angels: Messangers of The Most High
3. Demons and Angels: The Battlefield Today
4. Demons, Angels, and Christians--oh my! Our Response
5. Aftermath: Conclusions

I look forward to writing and posting these articles over the course of the next week, Lord willing! 

Grace and Peace,

Mark

SNHZ3XPE6NFP

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sins Inequality...

Rantifestos,

I've heard this a lot around campus and in the classroom: all sin is equal in the eyes of God.  It sounds really nice!  But unfortunately, it's not true.  I don't know why it's so often used in discussions on Scripture.  There is some truth to it, but it's mostly not Biblical.

So to clear the air, here are two bits I've found that are quite helpful, I hope that you'll find them the same. One, a video from John Piper, and the other from Kevin DeYoung.



Every sin is not the same in God’s eyes.
This sentiment is popular with many Christians. For some it’s a sign of genuine humility–“I deserve God’s wrath too. So how can I judge someone else?” For others this is a way to dodge the hits that come when you dare to criticize trendy sins–“Yes, I do think mating with bovines is wrong, but it’s not worse than any other sin.” And for still others, it’s simply a soft form of relativism–“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, you know.”
Like many popular adages, this one about all sins being equal before God is not entirely wrong. Every sin is a breach of God’s holy law. And whoever fails to keep the law in one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). So any sin committed against an infinite God deserves punishment. We’re all born sinners. We all sin. Every sin deserves death. That’s why the truism is half-true.
But it’s also a lot not true. Over and over the Bible teaches, either explicitly or implicitly, that some sins are worse than others.

much love,
Reed

Illusions and A Confession

Readers of Rantifestos,

Hello again! It's been a while since I've been able to put up a post. I'm writing this from home, having left APU yesterday afternoon for the summer. Reed is back home in Washington, but we will continue to blog this summer. I really miss him and the guys from my hall, there's no way around it. I'm realizing now even more than before how deeply the Lord blessed me in putting me on the hall that He did and in orchestrating the friendships that He did. The past year has been one for incredible change, for profound growth, and of excitement. I also think that it will take the same amount of time for me to regain and 'sleep off' my sleep deficit as it will the US to pay off our debt. That said, I'm excited to have more time to read, think, blog, sleep, sleep, and sleep this summer ;) Now, down to business...

The online, digital world is a place of great capacity, for good or for bad. Without entering into a discussion of all the contours of positivity or negativity that make up different aspects of the Internet/technology, I want to touch on one key topic. That is, the illusions that are facilitated by technology. I think it is far too easy to exude a facade that does not entirely match with reality. That is, the front we put up on here might not match with how we are really doing, feeling, thinking, acting.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Soils: The One Option for a True Believer

"God doesn't just want us to have good theology; He wants us to know and love Him."

Readers of Rantifestos,

Here's a great bit from Francis Chan's Crazy Love on serving leftovers to God.  Really convicting stuff...

For years I struggled with the parable of the soils.  I wanted to know if the person representing the rocky soil is saved, even though he has no root.  I then wondered about the thorny soil:  Is this person saved since he does have root?


I doubt if people even considered these questions back in Jesus' day!  Is this idea of the non-fruit-bearing Christian something that we have concocted in order to make Christianity "easier"?  So we can follow our own course while still calling ourselves followers of Christ?  So we can join the Marines, so to speak, without having to do all the work?


Jesus' intention in this parable was to compare the only good soil to the ones that were not legitimate alternatives  To Him, there was one option for a true believer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Should I be making plans this summer?


much love,
Reed

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Matt. 24:36

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mosaic/Levitical Laws (and other BIG words)


No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Romans 3:30

Readers,

If you've ever heard of history, then you'd understand that the Old Testament happened a long time ago.  Therefore, it's often hard to see the relevance or importance of it all.  Especially when we have a much newer version, the New Testament.

And it's even more difficult to parse the meaning and significance of the laws, specifically those in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.  After all, there are a lot of crazy ones!  This has led me to always wonder about this hidden corner of the O.T.  Do I have to follow these?  Do they contradict the N.T.?  What does it mean!

Here's a portion of Albert Baylis's From Creation to the Cross.  He wonderfully illustrates the meaning, the function, and ultimate fulfillment of O.T. law and how it relates to N.T. teaching and our own lives here in the 21st century.

The Laws Function

The law is "holy, righteous, and good" (Rom. 7:12).  The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ.  (Gal. 3:23-4:7).  The Law was added to the promise "because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come:  (Gal. 3:19).  The Law was not opposed to the promises of God. (Gal. 3:21).  The Mosaic Covenant was good, but it had a temporary function.  It did not change God's way of working or make his promise based on works.  It was a positive program for a time when things needed to be spelled out, when safeguards were needed to protect Israel from falling easily into Canaanite practices.  The Law was like a disciplinarian in charge of your training as a minor.  When you are older you are disciplined and understand the reasons for manners and lessons, you don't place yourself under the old rules, good as they were.  You operate out of your full understanding.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Apology

Readers of Rantifestos,
Just writing to apologize for my lack of posts these past few weeks. They've been exceptionally tiring, physically and spiritually. Tomorrow I take the hardest of my finals and will be able to relax after that, Lord willing. Reed's done a great job keeping things up while I've been 'away', while studying for his final (one). Also, on an unrelated note, he's a business major ;) I look forward to writing to you all soon! If you're going through finals or midterms now know that I'm praying for you (and if you're not I'm praying for you as well) and suffering through them with you.

tired but alive in Christ,

Mark