Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Saved from What?

I realized (which happens a lot when reading Scripture) that salvation really is being saved from GOD! What is the destiny of sinners? to suffer God's holy justice and wrath. Hell is not evil, but holy, in that it is God's execution of perfect justice. It is those who occupy hell - the devil, his angels, and unsaved souls - that are evil, in the way that a prison is not criminal in nature but rather houses criminals. Consider the words of Jesus:
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke 12:4,5)
So our desire to be saved is prompted by the fear of God's damnation. This is not all a new revelation to me, but so often evangelicals skip over God's wrath as if He saves us from the devil. The devil has no power, not even in hell, he suffers there like the rest. Salvation is deliverance from the Almighty. But notice what Jesus says immediately following,
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Luke 12:6)
What do birds have to do with us? If he cares about sparrows and hair, how much more does he care about His children? He says earlier "Fear God's wrath" and now He says "Fear not," because conversion is this: running away from God and into His embrace. He desires to save us because of love and it is only by running into his outspread arms that we are saved from justice. Isn't it interesting that our punishment was served by someone with arms wide open?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Dear Westminster, I'm Coming!!!


I am now in the middle of a full course load (4) in my Master's program, intending to transfer it all to Westminster Theological Seminary (see photos) in Philadelphia as soon as possible.

My courses are Ancient Church, Reformation, the Theology of Martin Luther, and the Theology of Jonathan Edwards. I ask for your prayers, as I tackle a lot of reading and writing, not to mention about 96 hrs. of lectures I have to listen to and take good notes (to submit to the professor). Hopefully I won't be deported from Canada in theprocess and be separated from my wife and child! Almost everyone asks why I'm choosing Westminster for seminary, and my answer is usually, "Because its the best in the world." My reasoning is that- unlike most seminaries- Westminster has sustained its mission as a conservative, Reformed, evangelical school since its founding. Many seminaries have floundered between liberalism and truth for years, but Westmin has been consistent. The story is that, when the Puritans from Cambridge and Oxford Universities founded Harvard in 1639, it was an attempt to be a pure Calvinist seminary, but it eventually turned liberal, liberal enough that Jonathan Edwards' father, who was a pastor, started his own seminary in his house in Connecticut, and called it Yale. Then, as the leadership became nominally Christian and not truly saved, they too became liberal, causing the conservatives once again to establish a college in New Jersey, eventually calling it Princeton. It was Princeton that lasted the longest as a beautiful expression of evangelical Calvinist education, and it wasn't until the 1920's that the theological faculty split at Princeton, and Westminster was formed across the river in Philadelphia. Gresham Machen, Van Til, and others established Westmin while knowing that schools can follow trends and die because of liberal leadership, so Westminster puts all its leadership in the faculty. All the professors run the school and sign your degree. This creates an accountability structure that has kept Westminster on the Biblical level while most schools have fallen by the wayside. That's why I can be confident there, even though I'm not Presbyterian.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ultrasound = Ultracool



Well, here it is. Baby Belli has been spotted, nestled in mommy's womb, trying to hide from the paparazzi. While watching its heart beat, I saw the baby- as clear as day- turn 360 degrees onto its belly as if to cover its face. The technician said it was hiding under Emily's belly button. So, the little peanut's camera-shy, oh well... must take after the old man. Its head is on the right in the picture and the white line curving up to the left is the spine. We should have an updated picture in two weeks!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Highest Judge on Earth (next to the pope)


At the confirmatioin hearing for Judge Roberts yesterday (Bush's nominee for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) Sen. Schumer, a liberal (Jewish) New York Democrat told Roberts that there is not a position in the nation with as "awesome" a responsibility as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He went on to say that "not in the way my teenage daughter uses the word 'awesome' but in the Biblical sense of angels trembling before the presence of God." Truly though, Judge Roberts' lifetime appointment will give him a seat that will shape America until perhaps 2040-45. That is incredible. He could overturn Rowe v. Wade and illegalize abortion, illegalize gay marriage, and who knows what else? There's only been 16 chief justices since 1789, and we're witnessing history unfold as the United States is about to see some serious changes.

Friday, September 09, 2005

It Gladdens the Heart of Man

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.
-Psalm 104:14,15


After two thousand years of hibernation, the vineyards on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius - the volcano that destroyed the entire region- have now been resuscitated by some brilliant Italians. I got to enjoy a wine and olive oil tasting with four different wines at a special event during the Pompeii exhibit. Just think, the Apostles who went to Italy probably enjoyed this famous wine. One Vesuvian wine, called "Lacryma Christi" (Tears of Christ) was a very dry red. The story behind the name is a typical example of Mediterranean pagan-Catholic myth. This excerpt is from www.bellaonline.com
"Tradition has it that, when Lucifer was cast down from Heaven, he descended to Vesuvius. Once there, he began to destroy everything.
At the sight Christ began to weep. One of his tears fell on the lava and caused a vine to grow. This vine produced the grapes from which the wine is created. Another version of the tale states that when Jesus ascended into heaven moved by the beauty of the Bay of Naples beneath him and cried.
A third version of the story states, that when Lucifer was expelled from Heaven, he grabbed a chunk of Paradise and carried it with him as he fell. He dropped it on the coast of Italy at the foot of Vesuvius, where it framed the bay of Naples. Vesuvian wine has been enjoyed since ancient times. Evidence of the area's delight in wine was preserved by Vesuvius' lava. It is said that even the god Bacchus found pleasure in the abundant wine and the company of those who lived at the foot of the volcano. Ironically, while Vesuvius destroyed towns, its lava made the soil fertile. It produces dry and sweet white wines and a prized red (Terzigno). There are many wonderful wines produced with the same loving care as the ancient Romans. Montesole Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco DOC is produced from the Coda di Volpe. This refers to the foxtail shape of the grape bunshes. This Lacryma Christi is a pale straw color with green tints. It has an abunance of fruit on the nose, with aromas of peaches and lemons."
Anyway, the white wine was probably the best white I've ever had.

Katrina vs. Vesuvius

I was in Pompeii several years ago, and amidst the ruined redlight district of the ancient city, I remarked, "Wow, God really brought his wrath upon this pagan place." A lady overheard and answered in a nasally nag, "You don't really believe that do ya?" Well, while stepping over the phallus-shaped arrows on the cobblestone streets which pointed to the brothels, I couldn't help but consider it.
Last night I spent several hours in the Pompeii exhibit at the Museum of Civilization. It is North America's first time to host this famed exhibition, and after Ottawa it heads to Chicago and then Tokyo. The event brought 100,000 spectators during the summer. Is it coincidence that the most preserved specimen of devastation, the most clear picture of a sinful society frozen forever in a moment of time and buried under 25 meters (82 ft.), is on a global tour for all to see during the worst natural disaster in America's history? Granted, Southern Italy in the first century was no more sinful than many places today, but I think New Orleans was worse. As an example, Pompeii, like all Roman cities constructed in a grid pattern, with their streets running N to S, E to W. Its redlight district, which imported (and enslaved) girls from all over the world, was on a street that curved through the middle of the town. The purpose? To conceal. You can't see down the street unless you go there. The revelry, although vast, was somewhat concealed. I'm not justifying it, but wanting to make a comparison to New Orleans. It is known that certain acts were performed in the streets in front of spectators all the time. It was a culture of public sin. People have sent video and photos to police and government which were ignored. I need not mention the rampant voodoo religion in the area, which immigrated from Haiti generations ago. Actually, the picture above is a detail of a Herculanean fresco from the "Villa of the Mysteries". The strange, and yet-to be-understood mural depicts a secret ritual of one of the Roman mystery cults. This poor girl is the object of some type of humiliation/initiation or abuse.
I saw a lady on the news in New Orleans crying out that this is a "wakeup call" from God and the people of New Orleans need to repent from their sin. I'm surprised the media showed her, but God bless that woman. Where are the prophets, where are the Elijahs and Jeremiahs? Who will interpret the signs which are so clearly in front of us, signs that blew across literally miles of our land? If a poor, black, ebonics-speaking woman is the one to stand up and cry out, than let it be so. God's people need to stand and comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Shepherd the Gulf Coast and the entire nation into repentance and righteousness.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Blas-phlemy

The following message refers to a comment given by Evelyn (see archives) on whether or not she has decided that the phrase 'God blog you' is blasphemous or not.
Evelyn, we'd all be in trouble if it was up to us to decide what was blasphemous or not. I mean, there are so many ways we blaspheme without thinking. Saying a post-sneeze 'Godblessyou'- I strongly believe- is taking the Lord's name in vain, i.e. sputtering off His name as a reflex without reverence. I prefer to use the Italian "Salute'(suh-LOO-tay) which simply refers to the sneezer's health, similar to the German 'Gesundheit'or Spanish 'Salud'. Now, there's another Spanish sinus-invocation, which takes blasphemy to a ridiculously obvious level with (now try to picture this dialogue on some Latino lanscaping crew in Florida) Juan: "Achoo!!" Pepito: "Jesus!" (hay-SOOS). I mean, I wouldn't know if Pepito was strongly desiring to bless his amigo or he was just swearing because he got sprayed on.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

If I Only Heard a Heart...

(...and I did). Today I heard the heartbeat of my unborn firstborn. God has blessed us with a tiny life, and I listened to the only noise it can make until February. Emily thinks I'm crazy that I'm concerned with the baby's heartbeat speed. Normal beats per minute is between 110 and 150. Today Bambino Belli had 151. Apparently its completely fine, although I think it has ADHD and we need to take action to calm it down with Yanni and yoga.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Our Meetinghouse



Lakeville Christian Fellowship, Lakeville, MA, is well on the way to completing our first permanent meetinghouse for worship. After ten years of homes and then renting, LCF will be meeting in a beautiful building surrounded by giant pines on 10 acres of land the Lord provided for us. Pray for us. Soli Deo Gloria! Click on this... http://www.hymnsite.com/midifiles/umh11001.mid