Firewheel Town Center - 2

Well, the mall is progressing. Now they have the street around the back open all the way around, so one can drive back there and see Foley’s, etc. I’ve posted some new shots at the original site: Firewheel pix.

How Do We Treat the Smoking Flax?

I’m reading Richard Sibbes’s The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax, based on Matthew 12:20. When Sibbes comes to the explanation of the smoking flax, he explains that the “smoke” coming from the wick is that portion of its output which is not wished for. What is wished for is light, not smoke. Yet Christ overlooks and purifies the smoke, for the sake of the little light that he has lit there.

Sibbes applies this lesson to Christians when he says:

Here see the opposite dispostition between the holy nature of Christ, and the impure nature of man. Man for a little smoke will quench the light; Christ ever we see cherisheth even the least beginnings. How bare [bore] he with the many imperfections of his poor disciples. If he did sharply check them, it was in love, and that they might shine the brighter. Can we have a better pattern to follow than this of him by whom we hope to be saved? ‘We that are strong ought to bear with the infirmities of the weak,’ Rom 15:1. ‘I became all things to all men, that I may win some,’ 1 Cor 9:22. O that this winning disposition were more in many! Many, so far as in us lieth, are lost for want of encouragement. . . . It is not the best way to fall foul presently with young beginners for some lesser vanities, but show them a more excellent way, and breed them up in positive grounds, and other things will be quickly out of credit with them. . . . It were [would be] a good strife among Christians, one to labour to give no offense, and the other to labour to take none. The best men are severe to themselves, tender over others. (Works, vol 1, 51-52)

More pictures

If you really want to see pictures of these Southern gentlemen and ladies, head on over to Andrew’s place where he has several posts full of them.

Southern experience

It just doesn’t get any better than this…. Evan’s “16th” birthday party, actually being held half a year late. Everybody dressed in period costume, and we had traditional music with traditional dancing at the Onion Shed, a wonderful old pavilion in Farmersville.

Odd… there weren’t any Yankees at this party. Perhaps that was because the invitation specified that this was a Confederate Ball!

What a weekend! Everyone should have 20 teenagers staying overnight at their house, making Confederate costumes! And everyone should have our good friends the Beauchamps helping out with every aspect of the gathering! Thanks Beauchamps!

63% of Southern Baptists: Unsaved

How do you like my headline? Does it make you unhappy? Well, it should. But not because I’m being hateful or deliberately sensational. It should make you unhappy because it’s probably true. We could argue the number, but the concept is sound. Read all about it here. And notice that the original headline is at least as sensationalistic as mine.

(That is, if you know the meaning of the word “unregenerate.”)

Firewheel Town Center - 1

The long-promised mall between Garland and Sachse is taking shape. Whether it is a good thing or bad, I’ll leave for others, but I’ve taken a few pictures to give a look at how it’s shaping up.

My least favorite thing was that they took down an entire hill on Ben Davis Road to make way for this development. (The hill at the end of the road here, and the hill I am on here, circa October 2002.)

And now they are putting ugly boxy storefronts up and down Highway 78 to cover up what was actually a pleasant view of the new mall.

Legalism again

Bruce Blakey doesn’t exactly disagree with my post on legalism’s dangers (quoting him), but he feels the need to clarify what he is talking about:

Legalism is when you add to justification by faith alone. When you say that you must believe and be baptized or you must believe and home school or you must believe and avoid churches that use drums. Of course it is necessary to address issues like fornication, husband-wife relationships, and rebellious chidren. Those are all biblical issues and should be dealt with accordingly. Not every one who talks about legalism is antinomian (against law, living like there is no law). However I have noticed something interesting that you may have encountered as well. Some people who are very legalistic about things at church (no drums) are very antinomian when it comes to what their own children listen to and do. Go figure.

What am I getting at? Let’s teach the Bible. Let’s cut it straight. Let’s consistently apply it in our churches and our lives. Sola Scriptura. When we teach the Bible we have the great joy of seeing the Lord bring forth fruit for His glory.

Of course, I couldn’t agree more. Everybody would be helped by working through the series of articles collected at monergism on this topic.

However, again I feel we must clarify that just as the church is threatened by legalists, so also it is threatened, in some local churches, especially from certain doctrinal backgrounds, by “legalism hunters,” who scurry about and try to homogenize everyone’s behavior, stamping out variety and convictions on the part of other brethren. I have been in the middle of this situation.

Take homeschooling for example. To homeschool is not legalistic. Even homeschooling, plus joining homeschool para-church groups, plus subscribing to magazines, plus being excited about it, plus talking about how the Lord has blessed our homeschooling, all of them put together, are not themselves legalistic. (Somehow I wonder about the grammar of that last sentence.) Having a conviction is not legalistic, folks! But the above list is enough for many pastors and elders to believe that you have, indeed, divided the church by your supposed legalism. They are not willing for other brethren to hold convictions different from theirs.

But, brother homeschooler, the minute you start judging your brother, whether in thought, word, or deed, for not sharing your convictions, then you have become a legalist. You are bound by the text of Romans 14:4; you must, you are required, to believe that your good-hearted, growing brother is implementing schooling for his kids the best he can before the Lord. Even if he sends them to public schools!

Both of these extremes are such a danger. Nuff said for now.

George Herbert again

Posted two more poems to the George Herbert Project today: Holy Baptism 1 and 2. Even though I am a Baptist, I love Herbert’s meditation on his (infant) baptism in #2. What lines of Christian poetry surpass this: “O let me still / Write thee great God, and me a child”? Herbert could say so much in so few words.


Today’s post will juxtapose two views of legalism that seem perfectly opposed, but which I think both make good points.

First, for the “legalism is a real problem in the church today” side, Bruce Blakey says:

Legalism is a constant threat to Christianity. There are always those who come along to find fault and to add rules. If you are really saved, according to them, you will keep the rules that they have devised. Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, based on the Scripture alone, focused on Christ alone is not enough for the legalist. Therefore, salvation is not for God’s glory alone because legalism puts man in the place of God. It is all about what I do or don’t do rather than all about what God has done in the person of Christ. Legalism is so enticing because our flesh, our pride, wants some of the credit. Legalism is also very intimidating because we don’t want others to question our salvation or our spirituality. Legalism is attractive because it feeds a tendency in us all towards self-righteousness.

Sadly, a lot of legalism is spread by those who call themselves Calvinists or reformed. Keeping their rules is how you prove your election. How intimidating is that? Strange that those who proclaim the wonderful doctrines of grace want to add rules to grace. Even sadder is that they look down on those who do not hold their views. Sometimes the self-righteousness is overpowering.

But now, from the “I’ve heard them cry legalism so many times” side, here is Doug Phillips quoting Matt Chancey:

I find it odd that, in an age marked by an explosion of licentious antinomianism in the Church, most pastors are preoccupied with â??legalismâ? so-called. Teenagers in the church can be fornicating with one another; wives can be leading their husbands around by the nose; or husbands can be passive and withdrawn from their responsibilities, but is this kind of open rebellion against the law of God attacked by pastors? Hardly. Theyâ??re too busy condemning the father whose daughters wear head coverings and Pilgrim dresses. â??Legalism!â? he cries, and most of his sermons denounce such â??false piety,â? while temple prostitution takes place right under his nose.

Christmas in 1953 - same old story

How well C. S. Lewis captures my longtime thoughts about Christmas. In his book, Letters To An American Lady, which I recently scored in hardback (woo-hoo, thanks, Half Price Books!), Lewis says this, on November 27, 1953:

“I feel exactly as you do about the horrid commercial racket they have made out of Christmas. I send no cards and give no presents except to children.”

My always-changing view of Christmas includes the following elements:
- Christmas has great music! At least the traditional and historical music…
- Christmas is two holidays! If I celebrate elements of the “commercial racket,” it’s not because I believe it has anything to do with the other holiday.
- I like my family, and I like doing nice things for them! But maybe we could give all that stuff a new name….?
- Maybe the Puritans were right when they abolished Christmas?

Comments? Anybody who wishes to comment should probably read Lewis’s wonderful essay, Xmas and Christmas.