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Toilet Training For Cows

Anyone with even a scant knowledge of cows knows that >ahem< happens.
A lot.
My cowophile readers may have an interest on this article on cutting edge developments in the area of toilet training for cows from Mental Floss.

This is what makes for cultural relevancy out here.


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The Problem With Adopting The Language Of Incomplete Revelation (via R. Scott Clark)

God speaks to us all in the Bible.
It is sufficient for what we are to believe and what we are to do.
It is available equally to all.
We are blessed, in contrast to the Old Covenant, by the presence of the Holy Spirit; we are blessed, in contrast to the Apostolic era, by the presence of the complete canon of Scripture.
This is the era of particular blessing with regard to the indwelling presence of the person of God and the access we have to his objective revelation.
When individuals claim that God speaks to them by private means they add another authority alongside the Bible and elevate themselves beyond every one else in their understanding of God’s will.
They want to go back to another era.
To live in the past, as it were.
To live with the constant apprehension of an incomplete revelation.
In attempting to be polite (or give the impression that we aren’t ‘missing out’) Christians who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture and the particular blessings of this era can find themselves adopting the language of those who don’t.
And that can lead us astray.

Excerpts from a couple of helpful posts by R. Scott Clark, both of which are worth reading in their entirety.

Part 1:

As a consequence of these claims many evangelicals simply assume that when a contemporary leader claims to have the gift of “tongues” that what is seen and accepted as “tongues” is identical to what occurred in Acts and what is described in Acts. Such assumptions of continuity between the apostolic period and contemporary expressions of religious piety and enthusiasm have strongly colored evangelical assumptions about the nature of piety. It is a paradigm: it is assumed that spiritual vitality means reproducing apostolic phenomena. Any Christian who is not receiving direct revelations from the Spirit, exercising apostolic gifts and power is reckoned either to lack faith, to be missing out on a potential benefit, or to be making a false profession of faith.

Even in Reformed circles, which are typically cessationist, i.e., which typically do not accept the widely-held assumption of strong continuity between the apostolic period and the contemporary church, there are attempts to mediate between the neo-Pentecostalists, charismatics, and non-Pentecostalists by adopting the vocabulary of the charismatic movement. It is common for Reformed folk to say, “The Lord led me” or “The Lord showed me” or even “The Lord told me.”
Sometimes one suspects this is a defense mechanism. If we speak this way then perhaps we will not be accused of denying the ongoing work of the Spirit. In the neo-Pentecostal/charismatic paradigm, the assumption is that anyone who does not speak thus is implicitly denying the abiding presence, activity, and work of the Spirit. Some of this is cross-cultural or cross-paradigm communication. We’ve taken to speaking like charismatics in order communicate our conviction that the Spirit is at work in our communions and people.
The adoption of charismatic language to describe our experience comes at a cost, however, because we come to believe that what is being said is literally true. As Reformed folk read Scripture, the apostolic gifts and powers ended with the close of the apostolic age. As best we can tell, no one is actually speaking in natural foreign languages (Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 12–14) by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. None of us is being carried about from place to place by the Spirit (Acts 8:39) or healing the lame (Acts 8 and 9). None of us is putting people to death (Acts 5) or raising people from the dead (Acts 20) and none of us is impervious to the bite of poisonous snakes (Acts 28). None of us even is so indwelled by the Spirit that others are healed merely by touching our handkerchiefs (Acts 19).
Read the whole post here.

Part 2:

So, what should we do? I propose that we speak the truth in love. Instead of making claims that we can’t back up we should speak simply. Instead claiming implicitly that we know what the Spirit is doing just now (we don’t and you don’t know where the Spirit comes from or where he is going) we should say what is true. Instead of saying “the Spirit told me” or “the Spirit led me” or we should say what actually know to be true. “I had a strong desire to pray” or “in the providence of God it turns out that as I was praying x was happening at the same time.”
Does the Spirit lead us, give promptings? Sure. That’s not in question. What is in question is what we should claim about them. The Word tells us that the Spirit is constantly, powerfully, and actively accomplishing his purposes. Confessing that truth is one thing. Claiming that we know just what he is about at any given moment is quite another. We say, “The Spirit was really present” when what we know to be true is that “we had an intense experience.” In fact the Spirit is always present. We may become conscious of certain intense feelings or experiences and if those are good and holy, praise God.
Implicit in the claim to know what the Spirit is doing is an unstated knowledge and claim to power. “It’s not in the Scripture but I know what the Spirit is doing in this instance.” I say that doesn’t accord with what we believe about the immensity of God, the omnipresence of God, and our doctrine of the providence of God. He is always sustaining, governing, upholding all things. We know that he is with his covenantal people is a particular way. That presumes knowledge of the Spirit’s work that we don’t have. It’s powerful and seductive but it’s powerful precisely because it fills in the sorts of blanks we want to have filled in. It sounds and seems more “spiritual” to say, “The Spirit led me to do/say/think” rather than “after prayer and study I did/said/thought.” The latter is corrigible and the former is less so. It’s really a sort of implicit claim to power, authority, and knowledge that, as far as I know, in the post-canonical era, no one has.
Why can’t we simply do good, useful, edifying things without attributing it directly to the inspiration of the Spirit? Why do we have to know whether it was directly from the Spirit? Partly, I think, because we feel guilty for being cessationists because the non-cessationists seem to having all the fun.
Brothers and sisters, we are not charismatics or neo-Pentecostals. We have a different paradigm. We should learn to be content with Scripture and with our own paradigm instead of seeking to plunder the Pentecostals. We do not believe that God occasionally drops into history to do the spectacular but rather we believe that he is constantly with us. We believe that he accomplishes extraordinary things through the ordained and regular (Rom 10). Which takes more faith? To believe that the Spirit is knocking people over, inspiring them to make incorrect prophecies, or to believe that God uses the foolishness of the preached Gospel (1 Cor 1-2) to raise spiritual dead (Eph 2) sinners to new life and to grant them faith and through it union with the risen Christ?
Read the whole post here.


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The Last Thing A Church Needs Is More Compartments (via Michael Horton)

The Gospel frees us from surrounding ourselves with people just like us.
It also helps us think about what church we should go to on the basis of opportunity to serve rather than the basis of what I think I need.
From Michael Horton’s The Gospel Driven Life.
ht & ht

The last thing we need is a church that keeps us sealed up in our own compartment with others of similar experiences in life. We need to be integrated into the body of Christ. Younger believers don’t need another speaker to come in and tell them about dating, self-esteem, and relationships. They need to have relationships with saints who have put on a few miles in the Christian life and have faced challenges to their faith and practice that younger believers have not. And the lessons learned from these relationships need to be passed on to the rest of us in unplanned, unchoreographed, and unplugged conversations.
—Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life (p. 197).


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Tough Love From Cute Animals

If your ego is as fragile as mine you might find this a bit challenging.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
ht


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The Bible Simply Does Not Teach Us That If We Say The Right Words, Right Things Will Follow (via Zack Eswine)

This is a truth I need to understand again and again.
From Zack Eswine’s Sensing Jesus:

One of the first signs that we are approaching the borders of attempting omnipotence is this: we believe that another is choosing a course of action because he or she simply isn’t clear on what is right. Therefore, we believe that if we just work hard to explain what is right, then he or she will do the right thing. We think that all will be well if we simply make something plain to someone.
While our first step should always include making sure things have been made clear, most of us know from our own lives that often it is not a lack of clarity that troubles us. Often we already know the right thing to do, and we still choose otherwise. So why do leaders, parents, spouses, and friends often assume that if we just arrange the quotes the right way, or just say the verses enough times or loud enough, that such a change will immediately start to happen?
The Bible simply does not teach us that if we say the right words, right things will follow. Jesus taught us that the self-centered heart is tamed not by human will but by God’s intervention. No one was more plain, reasonable, and clear than Jesus, and they crucified him. Somewhere along the way, those of us gifted with words will receive a painful reminder that it is Jesus and not our explanations that can change a heart. Words aren’t strings, People aren’t puppets. Eloquent speech isn’t magic.

Zack Eswine, Sensing Jesus, Crossway, 2013, pp 104-105.


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The Fallacy Of Expecting Fruit Without A Tree (via Kevin DeYoung)

Some professing Christians fall into the error of believing their profession (and even regular church attendance) means that they should have a happy life.
Well, maybe not happy, but at least a life without their current worst problem.
It’s sort of like maintaining a gym membership, and maybe even visiting the gym on a regular basis, but never working out.
In other words the solution to a current crisis would generally be found in all the discipline which hasn’t been put in over a long time previously.
But take heart, the power of the Gospel means that it’s never too late to start.
Never.
Kevin DeYoung points out the fallacy of expecting to have Christian maturity without living the life of a maturing Christian in this post from his blog.

We equate love with indifference to sin when the Bible’s logic is exactly the opposite. The cross is the fullest expression of God’s love not because it shows God’s indifference to sin, but because it shows God’s holy hatred toward sin and his willingness to pay for it himself. That’s love.
At the end of Acts 7, we see Stephen praying for the angry mob stoning him to death. He says with his dying breath, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Surely this is love: Stephen wanted them to receive a mercy they did not show him. He had done nothing wrong. Stephen was not deserving of death. Their actions were a profound instance of criminal injustice. And yet in a final gasp, on his knees, he cries out on their behalf, “Lord have mercy.”
How did he do that? How could Stephen love like that? How do we love like that? Pray like that? Forgive like that? Lots of people in the world want to love and forgive. We like those virtues in our culture. But few people are interested in the principles which makes these virtues possible.People want to love like Stephen without bothering to understand or embrace the mile of theology that made his love possible. They don’t want to see the Jesus he saw, or believe in the vindication he knew was coming, or entrust their offense to the God of justice who will one day make all things right.
In the world, they want to be good people. But they don’t realize they have to be God people first. I hope you aren’t going to church just to become a better you or just for the morality your kids might pick up. That’s not how Christianity works. Becoming a Christian is not simply about self-improvement. It’s about a hundred particular truths that teach our minds and touch our hearts–truths about God and Christ and sin and salvation. And yes, later, and only in connection with all the rest, is it about being a good person. When you embrace the biblical worldview of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; creation, fall, redemption, and consummation; redemption accomplished and applied–when your heart thrills to all of that, then you’ll bear fruit. But don’t expect to ever look like Stephen if you grasp for the fruit without the tree.


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The Trouble With Finding God’s Will Using A Leaky Canon (via Pyromaniacs)

Dan Philips of the Pyromaniacs on the real work of finding God’s will, instead of just waiting for him to tell you.

Valerie was preparing some dish for our church pot luck, and needed lime-flavored tortilla chips.
I looked and looked among the chips, the tortilla chips. Nothing. Up, down, back and forth. Nothing. I mean, yes: there were chips of all kinds; there were even tortilla chips of all kinds.
Just no lime-flavored tortilla chips.
But I really wanted to please and serve Valerie, and I tend to be very tenacious in situations like this. So I kept looking, back and forth, up and down, back and forth, up and down.
Then I looked in a totally different area from where all the tortilla chips were — and there it was.
If I didn’t care, I would have quit earlier. If I didn’t have the conviction that Walmart had to carry this kind of chip, I would have quit earlier.
Moral: The effect of these “God whispered in my ear and it worked out” stories is to encourage and validate giving up, and thus to encourage laziness.

After all, if you have the conviction that Scripture doesn’t have every word you need from God, you’ll look a bit… then you’ll quit. If you don’t see it on the shelf after a couple of glances, and your theology tells you that not everything you need is in fact on the shelf, and that there is in fact an entirely different way to get what you’re looking for… done!
What’s more, if you have a choice between close, hard, focused, disciplined study, and maybe the humbling experience of asking for help, on the one hand — and having God just murmur the answer directly into your ear, on the other (thus giving you the unchallengeable G-card) … who’d choose study?