Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Abortion: Only One Valid Defense

There is no valid defense for the legality of abortion, save one.  The heart of the abortion debate is the personhood of the unborn.  The defense of the legality of abortion, therefore, rests on the argument that the unborn are not persons.  Aside from this argument, all the others in defense of legalized abortion fall apart.  Let me demonstrate.

The common “back-alley, coathanger” argument falls apart if you grant personhood to the unborn.  In this country it is illegal to commit murder, regardless of the location.  The fact that murder is illegal in, say, libraries, surely causes more murders to take place in back-alleys.  This does not mean that we should allow murder so long as it takes place in libraries, on the basis of the argument that allowing it in libraries would cause a decrease in back-alley murders.  So it is that, if we grant personhood to the unborn, then our only recourse is to criminalize abortion, both in clinics and in back-alleys.  Just as back-alley murders do not justify library murders, so back-alley abortions do not justify clinical abortions.  If the unborn are persons, then abortion is murder, both in the back-alley and in the clinic.

Therefore, the “back-alley, coathanger” argument is not a valid one, because it rests upon the argument that the unborn are not persons.  If the unborn are not persons, then we are merely talking about a “part of the woman’s body” or a “blob of tissue,” and the argument that “clean and safe” abortions by “licensed and experienced professionals” is valid.  But, if the unborn are persons, then legalized abortion in clinics is as absurd as legalized murder in libraries. 

Similarly, all other arguments in favor of legalized abortion rest on denying the personhood of the unborn.  The mother’s rights, abilities, desires, etc. do not allow her to end the life of her born child, and, if unborn children are deemed persons, they should not allow her to end the life of her unborn child either. That a mother was raped does not allow her to end the life of her child after birth, so even rape should not allow her to end the life of her unborn child- once again, if her unborn child is a person. That a child has a disablity, is unwanted and unloved, or merely inconvenient does not justify ending his life outside of the womb, and if he is a person, these circumstances do not justify ending his life inside the womb.

This leaves us with only one valid argument in favor of abortion, that being that the unborn are not persons.  However, that an argument is valid does not make it right.  My purpose here was merely to simplify the issue and to identify its heart.  Those who are pro-choice identify themselves as such, at the end of the day, because they deny the personhood of the unborn.  Those who are pro-life identify themselves as such, at the end of the day, because they affirm the personhood of the unborn.  This explains why each side’s arguments seem absurd to the other.  If the unborn are persons, then pro-choice arguments are absurd.  And, if the unborn are not persons, then pro-life arguments are absurd.

Now that we have identified the heart of the issue, the next step is surgery.  Now that we have identified the heart of the defense of abortion, let us cut it out.  Two-hundred and fifty-five years passed between the institution of slavery in this country and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Another hundred years passed until Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech and the civil rights movement, where, for all intents and purposes, the Declaration of Independence was ammended to read, “all men, both black and white, are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights… namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” How many years will pass between 1973 and the day when all men, both black and white, both born and unborn, enjoy the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

It is sad but true that it was necessary to clarify that both black people and white people possess these inalienable rights.  It is sad but true that it is now necessary to clarify that both the born and the unborn, as persons, possess these rights.  Just as white people had to be denied the “right” to “choose” to buy and sell and own black people in this country, because black people are indubitably persons; so a mother must be denied the “right” to “choose” abortion, because the unborn are indubitably persons as well.

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June 16, 2009 Posted by | Life | 2 Comments

Compassion.

This is an email that I just sent to the website http://www.godhatesfags.com, website of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS. The church is known for picketing funerals with outrageous signs, such as the one for which they named their site: “God Hates Fags.”

First let me say that I think you guys are absolutely right.  God has a hatred for homosexuals.  A hatred that will end with them spending eternity in hell if they do not repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, and Forgiver of sins.  1 Corinthians 6:9-10 would support us in this regard:  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

So not only does God hate homosexuals, but He also hates all people who unrepentantly sin.  But keep reading:

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

From this it seems that some of those that Paul was writing to in the Corinthian church may have been homosexuals before coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Is this not the end that we hope for, brethren?  That they will turn from their homosexuality and be “sanctified” and “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God?”

You and I may not have ever engaged in homosexuality, but James tells us that if we are guilty of any sin, then we are transgressors of the law.  And he tells us to speak and act “as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.”  Why?  Because “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:8-13).

I admire that you guys speak boldly as you ought to about the truths of the Word of God.  However, I fear that the way that you do so may cause people to reject the Truth- not because of the Truth itself, but because of the offensively outspoken manner that you employ in proclaiming it.

The goal is not only to proclaim the Truth, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also to proclaim it in a way that will lead sinners to repent and believe. 

Where is the compassion of Moses in Exodus 32:32?  Where is the compassion of Paul in Romans 9:3?  We will all stand before God on the ultimate Day of the Lord.  James tells us that those who do not show mercy will not receive mercy.  When we stand before God, we will all be found wanting- but for the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

You who have received mercy and forgiveness by that blood begrudge the mercy of God by turning away from the God who has cancelled your debt and turning to whip your servant for not being able to pay his debt (Matthew 25:14-30).

One last point: Jesus told us that the world will know we are his disciples if we have love for one another (John 13:35).  He also told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).  Belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should make us look different from the world- moreso than it does in most churches.  However, what sets us apart should be first our love for one another, and second that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these texts, and where picketing funerals with outrageous (albeit true) signs is encouraged by Jesus or His apostles.

Humbly,
David Hamilton

June 2, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Christian, Christianity, Life, Religion | , , , , , | 9 Comments

“Proudly, Guiltlessly, Confidently, Joyously Alive”

Is there a difference between “living” and “living.”  I think so.  A guy that I used to play basketball after church with when I was in high school used to ask me if I was going to “show up” or just “show up.”  The implication there was that everybody who goes to the gym “shows up,” but only a few actually “show up,” or make an impact, or dominate.  I think that is a subtle difference that can be translated into the difference between “living” and “living.”

One of Ayn Rand’s characters in her novel “Atlas Shrugged” described another character thusly:

“[You were] proudly, guiltlessly, confidently, joyously alive.”

Now, do you want to merely be “alive,” or do you want to be “alive” like that?  I think that the answer to that question is obvious, so we will move on to the next one: How do you get there?  There are several possibilities to ponder, but I have chosen three, those put forth by Ayn Rand, Joel Osteen, and the apostle Paul, and we will use the line from Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” as the litmus.

Rand believed that objective reason in the pursuit of one’s own happiness was the means to a full life.  She believed that the mind was the motive power of the world, and that purpose and reason and motivation fueled the world as the diesel fueled the trains on the tracks of her heroine Dagny Taggart’s Taggart Transcontinental Railroad.  However, I do not believe that Rand’s philosophy satisfies even her own standards.  I believe that a life driven by objective reason could very well lead a person to be proudly, confidently, and joyously alive, but what about guiltlessly?  What about the times when a person has faulty reasoning or forgoes reason altogether?  The short-term vs. long-term conundrum alone throws a wrench into her ethics.  If we are to, by means of objective reason, pursue our own happiness, what do we do when our short-term happiness comes at the sacrifice of our long-term happiness?  We all face that situation nearly every day, don’t we?  The happiness from eating something deliciously unhealthy vs. the happiness of physical fitness and/or appearance; the happiness of buying the temptor in front of us vs. saving for the big purchase in our sights six months from now; etc. 

So, as we contemplate the word “guiltlessly,” and how it fits into Rand’s recipe for life, we have a discrepancy.  With as many decisions as we all make every minute of every hour of every day, how can living a life driven by objective reason be “guiltless”?  In one of two ways, I believe:  either by never making a mistake, or by seperating mistakes from consciousness.  Sure, you could somewhat atone for a mistake by either repaying whatever loss your mistake caused to other people and/or learning from the mistake and not repeating it, but I do not believe that either of those options erase the guilt of a mistake.  So, in order to be guiltless, an objective reason-ist, assuming he or she has made at least one mistake, must seperate any and all mistakes from their conscious awareness.  But, I do not believe that anybody could, especially from an objective viewpoint, call such a person guiltless.  The only solution would be to turn to subjective measures, which I assume Rand would oppose, and feel “guiltless” because he or she is not as “guilty” as the next person.  None of those options provide true guiltlessness, so we must move on to other sources.

On to Mr. Osteen.  I might not know enough about Joel Osteen to be as critical as I am of him, but I am not very fond of what I do know of him.  He is a pastor who forsakes what the Bible instructs of pastors.  But, he has written two books that warrant him for consideration in pondering the pursuit of being alive.  The titles of his two books are “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential” and “Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day.”  With book titles like that, it would seem as though Joel Osteen knows how to be “proudly, guiltlessly, confidently, joyously alive,” right?  I haven’t read his books, but you can google “Joel Osteen” and preview them both.  There you can find both of his seven-step processes to “Your Best Life Now” and to becoming “A Better You.”  If Osteen had a road map to being alive, then I would think that his seven steps would not change as much as they did from ’04’s “Best Life” to ’07’s “Better You”:

“Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential”
1. Enlarge Your Vision
2. Develop a Healthy Self-Image
3. Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words
4. Let Go of the Past
5. Find Strength Through Adversity
6. Live to Give
7. Choose to Be Happy

“Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day”
1. Keep Pressing Forward
2. Be Positive Toward Yourself
3. Develop Better Relationships
4. For Better Habits
5. Embrace the Place Where You Are
6. Develop Your Inner Life
7. Stay Passionate About Life

Who knows whether or not his seven steps will change just as drastically in the next three years as they did from ’04 to ’07?  Regardless, I think we can use these fourteen steps to decide whether or not Osteen can lead us to being “proudly, guiltlessly, confidently, joyously alive.”  With all of the goodness that can be garnered from Osteen’s fix yourself, Dr. Phil-esque self-help books, I think that he, like Rand, fails to address the issue of guilt.  So regardless of whether or not Osteen can lead us to be “proudly, confidently, joyously alive,” he cannot lead us to be guiltless simply by ignoring guilt.  So, at least by Rand’s litmus line, Osteen cannot lead us to our full potential.

So what does the apostle Paul have to say about this matter?  We’ve taken a look at Osteen’s modern attempt and Rand’s attempt from her philosophy, which she put forward in the form of a novel in 1964 with “Atlas Shrugged.”  Now lets go back almost two-thousand years to the Jewish genius Paul, and see what he thought about living.

According to Paul, those who are justified in the eyes of God, by faith in Jesus Christ- faith that His perfection and His righteousness were imputed to us, in exchange for our sins which were imputed to Him; faith that His death on the Cross paid the penalty of our sins, so that we don’t have to pay that penalty with our death- are sons of God, fellow heirs with Christ, and will inherit the world.  What could bring more pride, confidence, and joy than knowing that you are a child of God and that you will inherit the world?  And what guilt can a person have when God, who is the ultimate victim of every sin we commit, declares us guiltless?  And the justification by faith that Paul taught provides both the eternal joys of being a child of God and being with God for eternity and the present joy and contentment and satisfaction of being a child of God and a citizen of heaven here on earth.  And although Christianity has become associated with the negative connotation of sacrificing one’s desires for the good of another, I agree with John Piper that true Christianity does not see anything as a sacrifice if it is in the name of Jesus Christ and for the benefit of His Kingdom.  And, any such sacrifice would be made in love and would be no sacrifice because the rewards dwarf any benefits or desires that are given up.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

January 5, 2008 Posted by | Ayn Rand, child of God, Christ, God, happiness, Jesus, Joel Osteen, joy, justification by faith, Life, living, perfection, potential, pure, righteous, Satisfaction, the apostle Paul | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Without Excuse.”

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” -Romans 1:18-20

Looking back on the time in my life when I rejected God and Christianity, I see things that I didn’t really see then. I had reasons for suppressing the truth of Christianity and rejecting it. I thought that it was better to live as if there was no God and as if Jesus was not the Son of God and is not the King of the universe.

I think back to conversations with my brother, when he made perfect sense and I couldn’t come up with answers for his questions other than simply saying, “I don’t know.”

As I said, “I don’t know,” I had to fight to keep a sly grin from coming across my face, because I was thinking about the reasons I couldn’t buy into what he was saying. I didn’t think that he could provide evidence for what he told me, and even when he did provide evidence, I brushed it off. If he gave me anything from the Bible, my defense was that the Bible wasn’t credible. Those things happened too long ago. How could anybody live their life around something that happened 2000 years ago? But the reason that I rejected everything he said was that I had to reject those things to live the way that I wanted to live.

Then things started to change. God started pursuing me. Certain weird things started happening in my life- I was living farther away from my dad than I had ever been, and I started having this crazy longing to have a son and thinking about what it would take to raise him and all the things that I wanted to teach him. I had this longing for the closeness that I have with my dad, along with the longing to someday build a similar father-son relationship with a son of my own. I was very strangely emotional about father-son relationships in TV shows and movies.

I started thinking more about the Christian life, and decided that it would probably be good to somehow teach my children the values that I learned being brought up in a Christian home. I remember thinking that I would definitely rather live in a neighborhood full of Christians than a neighborhood full of atheists, because I thought Christians were more “virtuous” in general.

I realized that I was being an idiot pursuing the kind of girls that I was pursuing, and I thought about all the “good girls” that I passed over when I was in college because I was looking for girls that “wanted to have fun.”

I decided that I would like to marry a Christian girl, because Christian girls are likely to be more virtuous. And because I thought that would be a good way to arrange for my kids to be brought up with Christian virtues. I decided that if I married a Christian girl, then I would be okay with going to church with her and our kids if/when we had kids for the sake of their virtues.

All of these things came together to elevate the Christian life in my eyes. Then, I “happened” to move to Houston, TX.

My brother gave me the Biblical evidence for the resurrection, and the only think I had to cling to was that the Bible wasn’t credible.

Then I came to realize that there was an enormous difference in the way that I read things. I remembered reading “The Da Vinci Code,” and I couldn’t get enough of it. As ludicrous as the ideas that “The Da Vinci Code” puts forth were, just the idea that it provided an argument against Jesus and Christianity spurred me on and I finished it in 3 or 4 days.

So, when I “happened” to stumble across Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” I began reading it with a realization that I read things differently depending on whether they supported or rejected Christianity.

So, with an elevated view of the Christin life, with my brother’s arguments, and with Strobel’s evidence for the credibility of the Bible, I was convinced that Jesus really was resurrected from the dead, and that He really is the King of the universe.

I truly believe that if you do not believe, then you are in the same position that I was in. Just as I suppressed the truth so that I could live the way that I wanted to, as if there was no God, I believe that you are suppressing the truth as well.

God has made it evident to you, and you have decided to reject the evidence. The poetry of life screams that there was a Divine Poet who set it all in motion, and we will all come face to face with Him one day.

If you do not repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus and accept and treasure Him as the only way to be reconciled with God, then you will have no excuse on that day.

I hope and pray that God will pursue you in the same way that He pursued me, because I know that I do not deserve it any more than you do.

Whatever explanations or excuses you have cannot account for the perfection and righteousness that God requires of us. Jesus’ death on the cross bought you, whether you accept it or not. The God who created everything in this universe requires absolute perfection and absolute righteousness from us. None of us are anything close to absolutely perfect or absolutely righteous. But our infinitely just and loving Creator provides an absolute perfection and an absolute righteousness in the person of Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man. And that perfection and that righteousness are extended to all who will accept it. It is an open invitation to all who are willing to give up the filth of this world for the treasures that God has to offer, lose the life that they want, and find the better life and the satisfaction that are only possible in Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Power that is in Heaven.

December 1, 2007 Posted by | Atheism, Atheist, children, Christ, Christianity, family, God, grace, Jesus, Life, love, mercy, Religion, Resurrection, righteousness, spouse, testimony, the Bible, virtue | 14 Comments

The Best News

What is the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer?

God created this world, and it is magnificent.  But is that the Best News?

Hell is more infinitely terrible than our simple brains can fathom, and in Jesus, God gives us a “get of hell free” card.  But is that the Best News?

Heaven is as infinitely great as hell is infinitely terrible and then some, and God tells us in His Word that by putting our faith in His Son we can spend eternity in heaven.  But is that the Best News?

God loves us and wants us to be happy, and as our Father He wants to bless us with every good thing and every perfect gift.  But is that the Best News?

Those are all included in the great news that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but John Piper would say that none of those things qualify as the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer.  Piper would say that the Best News is that, through Christ, we are able to have an intimate knowledge of God and enjoy Him forever.  And after listening to his two-part message called “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ”, I joyfully concur. 

What I love about John Piper is how Biblically solid he is and how he always strives to exult Jesus Christ.  Because he backs up what he says with the Word of God (and usually with multiple texts), it is often impossible to both accept that the Bible is the Word of God and logically disagree with Piper.  And because he strives to ceaselessly exult Jesus, I rarely leave his books or sermons without a desire to imitate him in that fashion.

 The “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” messages were intended to give his audience the best way to Godly sexuality, but the Supremacy of Christ was indubitably the central theme.  And the Supremacy of Christ is essential to both living the Christian life and combatting the sins of this world.  Therefore, although the message was intended to encourage Godly sexuality, the messages can definitely be applied to all areas of the Christian life. 

You can hear part 1 here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1657_Sex_and_the_Supremacy_of_Christ_Part_1/

And part 2 here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/184_Sex_and_the_Supremacy_of_Christ_Part_2/

October 27, 2007 Posted by | Bible, Blessed, Blessings, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Delight, Desiring God, Doers of the Word, Faith, Father, Giver, God, Heart, Infinite, John Piper, Life, Lord, Pleasure, Prosperity, Religion, righteousness, Satisfaction, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, The Law of the Lord, The Resurrection, the Word of God | Leave a comment

Greetings From Paris/Polycarp

Turns out they have the internet over here in Paris, so I figure we might as well blog a little…

Paris is amazing!  I have pretty much seen everything that I wanted to see so far- and I’ve only been here for 4 days!  But, in seeing everything that I knew that I wanted to see ahead of time, I came across a few things that were added to the list.  So far I have been to the Luxembourg Garden- one of my favorites because I recently read Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”- as well as The Tuileries Garden, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower (during the day, lit up at night, and sparkling during the first 10 minutes of every dark hour), Sacre Coeur, and today I spent about 7 hours in the Louvre- and barely put a dent in everything there is to see there!  I took about 5 zillion pictures- quite a few were paintings and sculptures of either the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, Jesus, or John the Baptist’s head on a platter, which seem to be pretty common themes there.  I plan to get them posted soon, so hold your breath on those.

On the flight over I read some Eusebius, and I am very much drawn to the stories of the martyrs of the early Christian church.  One such Eusebius early Christian church martyr story was about a guy named Polycarp who was the leader of the church in Smyrna.  Eusebius only says Smyrna is in Asia, but I have since learned that it is in Turkey.  His story was very inspirational (and I think would make a great movie), and his martyrdom led to an end of the persecutions for a period of time in Asia.  So I thought I would post a couple excerpts from the story here (and I decided to go ahead and change all of the thee’s and thou’s to you’s and so forth).

Chapter XV- Under Verus, Polycarp with Others suffered Martyrdom at Smyrna

(I cut out part of the beginning of the story- there were other martyrs in Smyrna, and Polycarp is being sought after.)  “But the most admirable Polycarp, when he first heard of these things, continued undisturbed, preserved a quiet and unshaken mind, and determined to remain in the city. But being persuaded by his friends who entreated and exhorted him to retire secretly, he went out to a farm not far distant from the city and abode there with a few companions, night and day doing nothing but wrestle with the Lord in prayer, beseeching and imploring, and asking peace for the churches throughout the whole world. For this was always his custom. And three days before his arrest, while he was praying, he saw in a vision at night the pillow under his head suddenly seized by fire and consumed; and upon this awakening he immediately interpreted the vision to those that were present, almost foretelling that which was about to hapen, and declaring plainly to those that were with him that it would be necessary for him for Christ’s sake to die by fire.”

(Polycarp moves once more to a second farm, but refuses to move again and says, “The will of God be done.”  His pursuers find him at the second farm…)

“But he did not hesitate, but immediately gave orders that a table should be spread for them. Then he invited them to partake of a bounteous meal, and asked of them one hour that he might pray undisturbed. And when they had given permission, he stood up and prayed, being full of the grace of the Lord, so that those who were present and heard him praying were amazed, and many of them now repented that such a venerable and godly old man was about to be put to death.”

(Polycarp is brougt to the city, and the captain of the police and the captain’s father try to persuade him to recant, but he does not.  Fast forward to when Polycarp is led into the stadium)

“Finally when he came up, the proconsul asked if he were Polycarp. And when he confessed that he was, he endeavored to persuade him to deny, saying, ‘Have regard for your age,’ and other like things, which it is their custom to say: ‘Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the Atheists.’ (They called Christians “atheists” because they would not worship the rulers, i.e. Caesar, as their gods)  But Polycarp, looking with dignified countenance upon the whole crowd that was gathered in the stadium, waved his hand to them, and groaned, and raising his eyes toward heaven, said, ‘Away with the Atheists.’ But when the magistrate pressed him, and said, ‘Swear, and I will release thee; revile Christ,'”

“Polycarp said, ‘Fourscore and six years have I been serving him, and he has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?'”

“But when he again persisted, and said, ‘Swear by the genius of Caesar,’ Polycarp replied, ‘If you vainly suppose that I will swear by the genius of Caesar, as you say, feigning to be ignorant who I am, hear plainly: I am a Christian…”

“But the proconsul said, ‘I have wild beasts; I will throw you to them unless you repent.’ But he said, ‘Call them; for repentance from better to worse is a change we cannot make. But it is a noble thing to turn from wickedness to righteousness.’ But he again said to him, ‘If you despise the wild beasts, I will cause you to be consumed by fire, unless you repent.’  But Polycarp said, ‘You threaten a fire which burns for an hour, and after a little is quenched; for you know not the fire of the future judgment and of the eternal punishment which is reserved for the impious. But why do you delay? Do what you will.’

“[The crowd] cried out and asked the [president of the games] Philip to let a lion loose upon Polycarp. But he said that it was not lawful for him, since he had closed the games. Then they thought fit to cry out with one accord that Polycarp should be burned alive. For it was necessary that the vision should be fulfilled which had been shown him concerning his pillow, when he saw it burning while he was praying, and turned and said prophetically to the faithful that were with him, ‘I must needs be burned alive.'”

“…then the materials prepared for the pile were placed about him; and as they were also about to nail him to the stake, he said, ‘Leave me thus; for he who has given me strength to endure the fire, will also grant me strength to remain in the fire unmoved without being secured by you with nails.’ So they did not nail him, but bound him. And he, with his hands behind him, and bound like a noble ram taken from a great flock, an acceptable burnt offering unto God omnipitent, said, ‘Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of you, the God of angels and of powers and of the whole creation and of the entire race of the righteous who live in your presence, I bless you that you have deemed me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a portion in the number of the martyrs, in the cup of Christ, unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the immortality of the Holy Spirit.  Among these may I be received before you this day, in a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as you, the faithful and true God, have beforehand prepared and revealed, and have fulfilled. Wherefore I praise you also for everything; I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom, with him, in the Holy Spirit, be glory unto you, both now and for the ages to come, Amen.’

“When he had offered up his Amen and had finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire; and as a great flame blazed out, we, to whom it was given to see, saw a wonder, and we were preserved that we might relate what happened to the others. For the fire presented the appearance of a vault, like the sail of a vessel filled by the wind, and made a wall about the body of the martyr, and it was in the midst not like flesh burning, but like gold and silver refined in a furnace. For we perceived such a fragrant odor, as of the fumes of frankincense or of some other precious spices. So at length the lawless men, when they saw that the body could not be consumed by the fire, commanded an executioner to approach and pierce him with the sword. And when he had done this there came forth a quantity of blood so that it extinguished the fire…”

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Christian, Church History, Eusebius, Faith, Life, Martyr, Polycarp, Religion | 2 Comments

“I Was There”

Although I am a member of Baptist Church of the Redeemer, I am in a small group/Bible study with some friends who attend Second Baptist Church. I went to Second for a meeting about the small groups, and decided to stay afterward for the “Logos” service that they have on Sunday nights. Although the preaching is not quite as good, imo (which I recently learned means “in my opinion”), it is Biblical and an enormous improvement from the sermon on Swiss Army Knives I heard last Sunday night. I had been to the Logos service twice before and mainly went to hear preaching of the Word of God.
So, I almost left when I found that there was a concert in the place of the usual Logos service.
I decided to stay for at least a couple of songs, and ended up staying the entire time. I am very glad that I did, and the concert was definitely a blessing. The singer was Nathan Tasker, an Australian who currently resides in Nashville, TN. He had a very unique sound that was great, and his lyrics were inspiring. I hope saying this does not devalue the rest of his songs, but my favorite was a song called “I Was There.”
I have posted the lyrics below. I was also encouraged by Nathan to sponsor a child through “Compassion,” a Christian child ministry program. Best-spent $40 of my life (32/kid and 8 for unsponsored kids), and Lord willing I will continue to support little Ashlyn Zoan Rodriguez Barrientos as long as the Lord blesses me with the means to be able to do so.
Nathan said he did the math, and it comes down to 2 grande mochas a week at Starbucks. With all of the stupid stuff I spend money on these days, it is great to know that at least some good will come out of the money that I work for.
I would encourage you, if you are able, to check out http://www.compassion.com and sponsor your own little Ashlyn.
Nonetheless, I hope you will enjoy these words, along with the quote Nathan gave before singing this song: (I don’t remember the exact wording, but the gist is this) Only those who accept their blame for the cross can receive the grace that flows out from it.

“I Was There”
–Nathan Tasker

“I’d like to think if I was there
In the garden as you prayed and cried
I would have stayed awake for you
So you were not alone at that time
But in truth I can see,
although I stand here now,
a part of me

Was there in the garden
Asleep on the ground
When you needed companions
And there was no one around
And I’m sorry I left you
To the anguish and pain
And but for the grace of God
I’d fall asleep again

I’d like to think if I was there
As the crowd demanded crucify
I would have been a louder voice
Calling out to them “what is his crime?”
But in truth I can see,
although I stand here now,
a part of me

Was there in the rabble
When your crime was declared
And I cried out for your life
Let Barabbas be spared
And I’m sorry I left you
To the mocking and scorn
And but for the grace of God
I hear my angry voice alone

Were you there, when they crucified the Lord?
Were you there, when they crucified the Lord?

I’d like to think if I was there
Watching as you took your final breath
I’d have known you’d rise again
I would’ve remembered all the words you’d said
But in truth I can see,
although I stand here now,
a part of me

Was scared and embarrassed
As I watched you die
I believed you were king
But you did not even fight
And I’m sorry I forgot
All you’d said and done
And but for the grace of God
I’d turn away and run.

I was there, when they crucified my Lord
I was there, when they crucified my Lord”

August 25, 2007 Posted by | Australian Christian music, Compassion, I Was There, Life, Nathan Tasker, Religion, Uncategorized | 2 Comments