Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Forward With Anticipaiton To 2013

Christmas time is family time for the Overmans. Although this is not a Christmas photo, it is our extended family. This picture was taken last July on our deck, as we gathered following Mom's memorial service. She passed through the veil to glory at the age of 87. My father is in the front row, sixth from the right. He will be 90 in the coming year, and he is doing very well. My awesome wife of forty-two years, Kathy, is fourth from the right, also in the front row, with her head peering between two of our ten grandchildren. Our four adult children, and spouses, are sprinkled throughout the photo, along with my siblings, their spouses and children, numerous cousins, and other relatives. I'm standing in the back row, on the far right, with only half of my head in the frame. (The best half, mind you.)

2012 was an extraordinary year, in every respect. We thank the Lord for his continued faithfulness in guiding and directing our steps, and we look forward with anticipation to 2013, because Jesus is Lord of alltoday.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Greatest Christmas Gift

Just hours after last week's post went out, twenty 6 and 7-year-old children, along with seven adults, were brutally murdered as another school day began at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, a little, idyllic American town, referred to this past week in the media as "Anytown, USA." Our prayers go out to each family touched by this cruel and senseless act. The screenshot (above) of the school's webpage is from Sunday, 12/16/12.

For a variety of reasons, America feels darker to me this year than last. But as John the Apostle wrote, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." (John 1:5, NLT) This is what Christmas is about: the Light of Christ Incarnate shining in darkness. At the Christmas season we mark the occasion when the Word become flesh and dwelt among us. Think about this. The Light shining in the very darkest of darkness, far as the curse is found.

Far as the curse is found.

[This post first appeared on December 25, 2009.]

One of my favorite carols is Joy To The World. The words are by Issac Watts, based on Psalm 98: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for He cometh to judge the earth, with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity."

Some say Joy To The World is not about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. They say it is about His second coming, not His first. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_to_the_World.)

The joy that is sung about, then, is a future joy that will occur when Christ returns, to “make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness,” in that full expression of His Kingdom (yet-to-come).

But for me, the song also makes sense as a celebration of the first coming of Christ in Bethlehem. While I’m looking forward to that full and perfect expression of Christ’s Kingdom-yet-to-come, I’m also celebrating the Kingdom-already-here. Jesus is Lord of all. Today! Not just in the future, but in this present moment (Acts 10:36-37)!

The Lord is come! No, the Kingdom of God isn't fully recognized yet, or perfectly functional right now. This will happen when Christ comes the second time. But the domain over which Christ is King (that is, His King-domain) presently includes both Heaven and Earth.

This is the greatest Christmas gift: Christ the King has come to Earth “to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.” Right now. Our Savior has come to make His blessings flow through people who are reconciled to God, and reconciling all things around them to Him, including the things of Earth. That's the big idea behind Christ's coming in the first place. See Col. 1:16-20, and To Reconcile Not Only People But Things.

So, no more let thorns infest the ground. By God's amazing grace, let's put our work gloves on, go to our workplaces after the Christmas holiday, both at home and in the community, to pull up bramble bushesand plant redwood trees.

Joy to the Earth! the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

Far as the curse is found.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

A Hard Thing To Bury

Does it take faith to believe that "Nature" is all that is, or was, or ever shall be? Does it take faith to believe morality is determined by human beings alone, with no regard for any higher moral order than ourselves? Does it take faith to believe all "truth" is equally "true," and all cultures are equally "good?" Does it rain in Seattle?

As mentioned last week, secularism is a faith. A powerful faith. And, as John Dewey argued, a religious faith. It is a faith with its own dogmas, held resolutely in the minds of everyday folk you walk past in the grocery store, who don't even know they are religious. Such as the dogma that one person’s concept of “truth” is just as valid as another person’s concept of “truth;” the dogma that says “tolerance” is the highest virtue a person can possess (tolerance of any view except an intolerant one, that is); and the dogma of radical whateverism which declares there is no such thing as “bad” culture, just “different” culture.  

As mentioned last week, Dewey's book, A Common Faith, written in 1934, ends with a call to action: "It remains to make it explicit and militant." Looking back over seventy-nine years since, and having lived in Seattle for sixty-three of them, it is clear to me that Dewey's task no longer "remains." 

You see, along the way, some people took Dewey seriously. Such as John J. Dunphy, who wrote in The Humanist magazine back in January, 1983: “The battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith…These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.”  

Militant enough?

This hardly seems like Christmas season stuff. For welcomed relief, and a powerful reminder that the so-called "rotting corpse of Christianity" is a hard thing to bury, watch this inspiring clip: http://youtu.be/SXh7JR9oKVE.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

There Are Only Two Kinds Of People

“Never before in history has mankind been so much of two minds, so divided into two camps, as it is today.”

Sounds like America of 2012. Actually it's the opening sentence from A Common Faith, written in 1934 by John Dewey.  

The division Dewey referred to was the rift between people “who think the advance of culture and science has completely discredited the supernatural,” and those who believe in a Supernatural Being, and “an immortality that is beyond the power of nature.” 

Dewey embraced materialism, which claims matter is all that is, was, or ever shall be. So when we die, we’re done. Period. Moral order is not prescribed from above, but created from among us. Purpose is what humans alone determine it to be.  

Yet in A Common Faith, Dewey argues materialists are religious. He says you don’t have to believe in the supernatural to be religious. He signed the first Humanist Manifesto, which declares, "the time has passed for theism," and, "we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate," but Dewey was a religious devotee, committed to a different faith: a non-theistic, non-supernatualistic faith.

Dewey admitted that understanding how a non-supernaturalist can be religious is difficult for many. So he distinguished between a religious “outlook,” and particular religions. He argued it isn’t necessary to subscribe to a supernaturalist religion to have a truly religious outlook, to be a  religious person, or to partake in religious "functions" of non-supernaturalist faith. He's right!

Dewey further said, "Faith in the continued disclosing of truth through directed cooperative human endeavor is more religious in quality than is any faith in a completed revelation.” Dewey was committed to the outworking of social pragmatism through public schools, a "directed cooperative human endeavor" that continually "disclosed truth," apart from "a completed revelation." Good-bye Comenius.

Dewey called his religious faith "the common faith of mankind," and ends his book with, "It remains to make it explicit and militant."

Dewey’s “case for faith” brings up sticky questions with respect to the practice of faith in public schools. While it is possible to separate church from public school, is it possible to separate faith from public school?

G.K. Chesterton said, "In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don't know it."

I'll expand on this next.

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