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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Separation: The Effect Of Holiness - Part 2

I am sorry about the format of this post. I have went through it four times and put space between the paragraphs and it will not hold the format when I publish it. I don't know why?? I realize it makes it considerably harder to read but this seems to be the best I can do.

HEBREWS 7:22-26
Separation is the willingness to make distinctions.
In the first part of this message we labored to show the existence of the principle of antithesis in the Scripture.
This whole concept of antithesis is the result of the enmity that God said he would institute between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
The Bible is full of this principle. Again one has to be absolutely inattentive to miss it. The above list could be added to:
These are just a few that come to mind, you could probably add to the list. Each of these manifestations of the antithesis can be substantiated by Scripture. The student of Scripture would readily recognize this truth.
Douglas Wilson in his book, Classical Christian Education deals with the presence of the antithesis when he writes, "But a belief that truth is absolute is not the same thing as saying that truth is simple. Because God knows all things exhaustively, He knows (for any given situation) the right thing to do. He knows which course of action is ultimately wise. I need not know everything, but the fact that God knows everything enables me to know something. In the same way, the fact that God know the fault lines of antithesis in everything enables me to make progress."
The notable thing about this quote is that Wilson acknowledges that God knows perfectly well where to draw the lines. While we cannot know it as well as God we can, as Wilson puts it, make progress. But if one embraces the notion that no lines need be drawn because it is a gray area (consequently one choice is no better than the next) then little if any progress will be made. The fact is there is a right thing to do in every situation. There is a right position for every issue. There is only one right position while there can be many wrong positions. There is always a course of action that is always ultimately wise and then there are many other courses of action that are by degrees less wise as we move away from the ultimately wise course of action.
Because God know how to perfectly draw the lines and what the right position is on every issue it should matter to us. I suppose this is the real problem that I have with the whole concept of "gray areas". It is the equivalent of saying one choice is as good as another, even when at times the choices are diametrically opposed. Two different choices are not equally good. We may not have the wisdom, discernment, or discretion to say for sure which is best, but it does not mean that there is not a best and it certainly does not mean that God does not know which is best. We need to quit being lazy and realize choices do matter. They matter to God. They matter to our own spiritual well-being. They matter to those we influence.
In fact if the truth be known, everyone is separated! This may surprise you somewhat coming from me but at it most basic level, if you think about it, it is true. Even people that are less conservative than you, are still very separated. It is simply a matter of from what we are separated and to what we are separated. For example:
Some people are separated unto confusion in gender appearance, some are separated from it.
Some people are separated unto movies with violence, cursing, and immorality, some are separated from it.
Some people are separated unto contemporary christian music or worse, some are separated from it.
Get the idea??
What ever we are separated to, we are saying that it is light, good, holy, sweet, truth, righteous, godly, pure, spiritual, heavenly, eternal, clean, wise, obedient, and submissive.
What ever we are separated from we are saying that it is darkness, unholy, bitter, error, unrighteous, ungodly, impure, carnal, worldly, temporal, unclean, foolish, disobedient, and unsubmissive.
Or, we are saying it does not matter, it is a gray area??? This is really an untenable position for one who claims to believe the Bible. It is tantamount to accusing God of not knowing which is best and exactly where the fault lines of antithesis fall.
To be honest, I do not know exactly where they fall in relation to any number of issues. This is because of my human frailty and my tendency to carnality. There are some areas where I believe I have a good sense of generally where they fall. Then there are a few area where I am absolutely convinced, fully persuaded you might say, of where the fault lines should be. Could I be wrong?? Yes I could be! Do I believe I am wrong. No, I don't. Do I believe that others who disagree with me are wrong? Yes I do! I am absolutely certain that I will be held responsible for my conclusion at the day of judgment, and for me this is a sobering reality. It does not allow me to indulge the laziness of claiming it is a gray area. This is not a sober minded position. This is a position that makes us vulnerable to the devices of Satan.
The real question becomes upon what basis are we making the distinctions?
To help us think about the basis for making these distinctions I want to bring two terms to your attention. Discretion and discernment. These are two words that have a direct bearing on where we will draw the lines of antithesis or whether we will be guilty of blurring the lines between good and evil.
DISCRETION - It is basically a word that involves the idea of disjunction or separation. Discretion has a direct bearing on separation. The nature of our discretion will determine where we draw the line of antithesis and consequently will determine the nature of our separation. It will determine what we are separated from and to what we are separated.
Discretion is a word that is used on several occasion in the book of wisdom, Proverbs. This it seems is fitting. Let us examine a few of those places.
Actually the first reference will be in Psalms.
Psalms 112:5 - A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
What is one thing a good man does. The verse mentions several things but for the purpose of our present discussion notice the last thing mentioned. A good man will guide his affairs with discretion.
So, a good man makes decisions about the affairs of his life. He separates things. A good man does not live his life in a huge gray cloud. He makes determinations about things. His affairs are determined through the process of separation, making distinctions.
Proverbs 1:4 - To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
One of the purposes of the Proverbs is to give discretion to the young man. Gray areas are the natural abode of immature believers. As we grow in grace and gain understanding and knowledge of the holy our "gray" area should shrink. It is young men who have difficulty separating things properly. The Proverbs were provided to help a young man exercise discretion and thus separate things properly in his life. To know what he ought to do and what he ought not to do. The Proverbs are designed to help a young man rightly discern the fault lines of antithesis. In fact much of the book is ordered along that very premise. It is a book of contrasting and comparing. Why? So young men could properly separate things concerning the issues of life.
Proverbs 2:11 - Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
This is why discretion is important. It serves as a preserving element in the life of an individual. If you are content to live in the context of a gray understanding of the issues of life, then your decisions basically become a shot in the dark. In most cases the tendency will be to go with that which is least offensive to the flesh. After all if it does not matter that much and it is just a gray area and one choice is a good as the next then why choose the path that requires the flesh to be crucified. People are so busy scorning a separated life they never take the time to consider the preserving nature of exercising discretion.
Proverbs 3:21 - My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
What was the son to not let depart from his eyes. His father's law and commandments. As a side note. I have yet to understand why it is a virtue to question and abandon the law and commandments of a godly Father?? To hear some young people talk they have convinced themselves that they have embraced wisdom by departing from the standards of godly parents. This is the first indication to me that they are simple and lack discernment. Proverbs makes it abundantly clear that it is a wise son who embraces the virtues of godly parents and takes them as his own. Many young people do not realize that their foolishness is showing when they accuse other young people of believing something just because they were raised that way. This is a trait that is extolled as a virtue in Proverbs. They take the virtue and attempt to make it a vice. What does this say about those young people? It says they lack discretion!
It was the commands and law of the father that would equip the son to know sound wisdom and discretion. When young people embrace the virtues and values of godly parents they are keeping sound wisdom and discretion. They are climbing atop the shoulders of their parents which if God is gracious will help them to see even more clearly.
Proverbs 5:1,2 - My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.
What is one way that a young man can show that he has regard for discretion. By attending to the wisdom of a father and bowing his ear to his father's understanding. Many young people have set a course of indiscretion and a life destined to be lived in the gray fog of worldliness and carnality because they would not bow the ear to a godly father's understanding. Discretion is acquired by doing that very thing.
Proverbs 11:22 - As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

This is one of my favorite verses in the whole of Proverbs. Imagine a jewel of gold in a swine's snout. It there anything more unthinkable that this. These two things do not go together. Yet, this is exactly what a fair woman without discretion looks like. A woman without the ability to separate and distinguish is a woman who takes on the appearance, spiritually at least of a swine's snout. Of course if you have enough young women embracing this mode of living then I suppose that all swine snouts look alike??!!
DISCERNMENT - It is basically a word that has reference to the ability to separate, to note the distinctive character of, to discriminate, distinguish. If one has discernment that means they have the ability to note the distinctive character of an issue, distinguish and discriminate and thus to separate themselves from and to the right things. This does not sound like some one who is placing issues in a gray category. People who desire to exercise discernment will never be content with such a lazy approach.
Ezekiel 44:23 - And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
The people were to be taught to discern between clean and unclean. Which obviously implies that they were to learn to discern between unclean and clean. God pity the preacher who allows his people to be comfortable in delegating issue after issue to the "gray" category simply because he is afraid he might offend. May God silence the men who encourage such a view!
Malachi 3:18 - Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
This verse extols the idea of not only discerning and discriminating in relation to the issues of life, but also between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. We are to be discriminating in our judgment of people. It is important that we do this so that we can limit our exposure to the wicked and them that serve not God and embrace the righteous and those that serve God faithfully exercising discretion and discernment.
Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The word of God is a discerner. The Word of God separates, it discriminates, it distinguishes. What does it discern? The thoughts and intents of the heart. What comes from the heart?
Proverbs 4:23 - Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
All the issues of life come from the heart. The thoughts and intents of the heart are discerned by the word of God. Do you see the connection?? All the issues of life are discerned by the word of God at the very root, in the heart. To say, "O, this issue is a gray area", is to say the word of God does not discern that. In spite of the fact that the Bible says it does discern it. There are no gray areas there are only areas where we lack understanding of God's revelation. Because we don't know, does not mean it cannot be known, nor does it mean it has not been revealed. It simply means that we have not yet come to understand it. To say that we don't understand is an honest admission. To say it is a gray area is a statement of arrogance and a surrender to laziness.
Hebrews 5:14 - But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The senses have to be exercised to discern good and evil. It is exercised by reason of use. The question should be asked, use of what?
It really goes back to chapter 4:12. It is the Word of God that discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. And again in chapter 5 and verses 12 and 13 the Scripture says:
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Use of what? "the word of righteousness" The word of God. Why? Because the Word of God discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, and out of the heart are the issues of life. So we discern good and evil in the issues of life by a faithful use of the word of God.
Herein lies the reason why there is so little discretion and discernment. We have to be using the word of God. Our lives must be saturated with the Bible. In all honesty, the average christian is saturated with the world much more than he is the Bible. Add up all the time he spends watching TV, videos, DVDs, reading novels, watching soap operas, reading christian romance novels, watching the news, reading fiction, listening to contemporary christian music, rock music, country and western music, playing video and computer games and how little time they spend in church and reading their bibles and material that would spiritually challenge and edify and it is no wonder that they lack discernment. Their lives are reflecting their diet. So, it is no wonder that women can put on a man's garment and say there is nothing wrong with it. Or a woman can cut her hair off or a man let his grow long and feminine-like and see nothing wrong with it. It is no wonder they see nothing wrong with wearing skin tight clothing or baring flesh. It is no wonder that Christian young people think it is a virtue to abandon at least part of the values of their parents. It is no wonder they are getting tattoos and body piercings. It is no wonder they are playing the lottery. It is no wonder they are board with preaching. It is no wonder they find humor in worldliness. It is no wonder they more excited about the local sports team than the presentation of truth. It is no wonder they think separated Christians are legalistic, Pharisees. Change the diet and the lives would change! They think they love their Bibles and their churches, but really they love the world more. Their lives reflect it, their attitudes reveal it, and their choices manifest it.
Discretion is lacking, discernment is missing and separation is absent! Consequently churches are full of people who are living comfortably in pleasing shades of gray. May God be gracious to raise some prophets in our midst who will lift up their voice like a trumpet and shew Israel her sin!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Obedience Is The Best Commentary

Once again the following is from Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity.

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. - Psalm 86:11

"Let us lead Scripture lives. Oh that the Bible might be seen printed in our lives! Obedience is an excellent way of commenting upon the Bible. Let the Word be the sun-dial by which you set your life. What are we the better for having the Scripture, if we do not direct all our speech and actions according to it? What is a carpenter the better for his rule about him, if he sticks it at his back, and never makes use of it for measuring and squaring his work? So, what are we the better for the rule of the Word, if we do not make use of it, and regulate our lives by it? How many swerve and deviate from the rule! "

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Worse Than A Dog?

Some more thoughts to cause us to contemplate our weakness and frailty. But for the grace of God in our lives we would be reveling in the gall of iniquity and held captive by passion and lusts! Once again the following is from Thomas Watson's, Body Of Divinity.

Sin cleaves to us, as blackness to the skin of the Ethiopian, so that we cannot get rid of it. Paul shook off the viper on his hand--but we cannot shake off this inbred corruption! Sin comes not, as a lodger, for a night--but as an indweller. "sin that dwelleth in me." Romans 7:17. Sin is an evil spirit, which haunts us wherever we go.

Sin, though latent in the soul, and as a spring which runs under ground--often breaks forth unexpectedly. Christian, you cannot believe that evil which is in your heart, and which will break forth suddenly--if God should leave you! "But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?" - 2 Kings 8:13. Hazael could not believe he had such a root of evil in his heart, that he would rip up pregnant women. "Is your servant a dog?" Yes, and worse than a dog--when that corruption within is stirred up!

If one had come to Peter and said, "Peter, within a few hours you will deny Christ;" he would have said, "Is your servant a dog?" But alas! Peter did not know his own heart, nor how far that corruption within would prevail upon him. The sea may be calm, and look clear; but when the wind blows--how it rages and foams! So though now your heart seems good--yet, when temptation blows--how may sin reveal itself, making you foam with lust and passion!

Who would have thought to have found adultery in David, and drunkenness in Noah, and cursing in Job? If God leaves a man to himself--how suddenly and scandalously may sin break forth in the holiest men on the earth!

1Corinthians 10:12 - Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Separation: The Effect Of Holiness - Part One

I have decided to post the first part of this message alone. I think it is an important message of itself and although millions are not reading this maybe God will use it to cause the some few who do to think as it has caused me to think, as I preached it to my own people here. I think the principle presented here is one that is not given enough sober consideration in our day. While there are others who would certainly be more capable than myself in expounding these truths they are presented in all of their weakness for your thoughtful consideration. I will post the rest of the message next week, Lord willing.

HEBREWS 7:22-26

By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

To be like Jesus one must be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. What does it mean to be holy. It means to be undefiled. Undefiled by what? Undefiled by the world. It means to be separate from sinners. We are not to be like sinners but separate from sinners. But really the two words that give us the greatest insight into the character of Jesus is that he was holy and harmless. As frail human beings we run the risk of being holy but not being harmless, or being so harmless that we are not holy. The goal is to be both holy and harmless. It is not good enough to be holy without being harmless. It is not good enough to be harmless without being holy. Jesus was both likewise we should strive to emulate him in this regard. The gospel accounts give us the example of Jesus being both holy and harmless.

It is important to recognize that separation is the effect not the cause. We often speak of being separated from the world. What do we really mean by this? What we are really addressing is the need to be holy. Holiness is the cause of which separation is the effect. Pursuing holiness causes us to be separated from the world. The cause always produces the same effect. Holiness always produces separation. The more profound the cause the more striking the effect. The greater the holiness the more striking the separation.

1 Peter 4:1-4 – Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

The pursuit of holiness causes us to not run with them to the same excess of riot. This in turn causes them to speak evil of us. The separation is a natural occurrence between opposites. Separation is the result of the presence of an antithesis. We are the children of God and the whole world lieth in wickedness. This thought presents the antithesis. The presence of the antithesis requires a separation. When the lines are blurred everyone loses their bearings.

Separation is the practical impact of striving for holiness in our lives. When we are not experiencing the effect it is likely because we are not embracing the cause.

In the course of this message I simply want to examine the principle of separation. The whole idea of separation is presented as a positive and the natural phenomena in the life of those who profess to be God’s people. The principle of separation is given to us so many ways in Scripture that one has to be willfully ignorant to miss it. The principle is given to us in so many different formats that to miss its relevance is to embrace blindness and we will surely stumble and fall.

Separation in the minds of many is a legalistic word that has no place in the framework of Christian living. Too many place the emphasis on a liberty the Bible does not even grant while they refuse to acknowledge the clear teaching of separation and loathe and hold in contempt those that would seek to instruct in righteousness.

The sad reality is that when it comes to separation there are few who are willing to hold the line and stay with the old paths wherein dwelleth righteousness. Unfortunately we have whetted the appetite of a generation for compromise by compromising principles of separation, holiness, and piety. We have taught them how to compromise and it is a lesson that is eagerly learned by the flesh. While those who attempt to hold the line are marginalized and accused of being unwilling to change with the times.

Separation Is Rooted In Contrast

Herein is the problem. The contrast between the world and God's people is being blurred. Take a group of people from the local mall and the local church and let people decide which group came from which place and in most cases it would probably be a guess in the dark. Where is the separation?? The Scripture clearly sets before us the importance of antithesis, and God's people have a solemn obligation to sustain it.

Consider the following:

Light and Darkness

Genesis 1:4,5 - And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

There was a clear division between light and darkness. Even a cursory reading of the Bible will reveal that this physical reality serves as a spiritual object lesson throughout the scripture. God divided the light from the darkness the light is called day, the darkness is called night. He divided them and named them. Light and darkness are for ever separated. Nothing changes in the dark except our ability to discern and see.

Ecclesiasties 2:13 - Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

Not only is darkness and light forever separated. Light both physically and spiritually excels darkness.

Isaiah 5:20 - Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Note the antithesis:




There is a separation between all these things. They are divided asunder. They are contrasting terms.

John 1:5 - And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The light shines the darkness does not comprehend. Light and darkness never understand one another. They never call a truce. They are forever opposed to one another. God made it so!

John 3:19 - And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Men are naturally inclined to darkness because of the nature of their deeds.

Acts 26:18 - To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

The purpose of the gospel is to turn men from darkness to light. Darkness the power of Satan. Light/God! To be turned from the power of Satan to God is the spiritual equivalent of being turned from darkness to light.

1 Peter 2:9 - But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
We have been called out of darkness. Light is characterized as being marvelous. We leave the darkness behind and step into the light. The evidence that we are in the light is that we bear the marks of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and yes, a peculiar people. All three of these designations are stated to be such they they shew forth something. People should be able to see that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people. It would seem that it is our peculiarity that marks us as a chosen generation and a royal priesthood. Unfortunately we live in a day when no one wants to be peculiar for the Lord. Something would seem to be terribly amiss if we were not a bit peculiar to those who are still walking in darkness, after all we are to be children of light.

1 John 1:5 - This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
This verse plainly sets forth the spiritual application of light vs. darkness. God is light. In him is no darkness at all. God is righteousness, truth, and holiness. In him is no unrighteousness, error, or sin. In God the spiritual antithesis is perfectly presented. He is light, there is no darkness! You will remember that we are commanded to be holy for he is holy. We are to strive for a degree of light in which no darkness is to be found. There is no room for complacency here.
Many have abandoned any real effort to maintain the antithesis because we are incapable of doing it to the degree that God does. God's perfection should provide no excuse for apathy but rather should provide motivation for perfecting holiness in the fear of God!

Good and Evil

Genesis 2:9 - And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Good and evil! There is good and there is evil. They are set over against one another just as we have seen with light and darkness. Again we have produced a generation who see a little good at one extreme and a little evil at another extreme and a vast middle area where there is neither good or evil. Just because we have blurred the lines in our own thinking and to satisfy the longings of our own flesh does not mean there are not clearly defined boundaries. It is our responsibility to study the Word of God in order to discern them. Lazy Christianity breeds a worldly Christianity! It is dereliction of duty to claim it does not matter. My responsibility is to seek the mind of God on the issues of life.
Proverbs 15:3 - The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
He is beholding the evil and the good. It does not say anything about beholding the gray. It is arrogance of the first degree to assume that because we cannot discern an issue clearly that God cannot. Just because I do not know does not of necessity mean that God does not know either. Just because I do not know does not of necessity mean that it does not matter to God! The fact is God sees more clearly than any of us and the Scripture declares that he is beholding the evil and the good. While it is hard to be comfortable with a shrinking gray area it is abominable to assume that God can't figure it out either!
Psalms 34:14 - Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Clear, honest direction from the Psalmist. Because evil and good are opposites one cannot do good without departing from evil. This too, assumes that we are responsible for making judgments about what is evil and good. It is not sufficient to say it does not matter, or that is just a gray area. We are to be in the business of discerning evil and good so that we might know what it is we are to be departing from and what it is we are to be doing!

Proverbs 31:12 - She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

She cannot do him evil if she is doing him good and she cannot do him good if she is doing him evil. They are forever separated.

Jeremiah 4:22 - For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

Again, evil and good are set in opposition one to another.

Isaiah 5:20 - Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Call evil good and good evil. In doing so we construct a large middle area that we call gray. I am convinced that modern Christianity (Baptists) have been unwittingly led away with postmodern thought. Postmodern thought is basically expressed in the concept that there is no objective standard. What is good for you is good for you, but it is not necessarily good for anyone else. Everyone is their own standard. The greatest offence in such an environment is indicating that someone is wrong or believing you are right. Well, such a philosophy may be acceptable to those walking in darkness but it should have no countenance among those who claim to be children of light. There is an objective standard, a divine standard. It is found in the Holy Bible. If the Bible says it is good, it is good for everyone. It does not matter what you think about it or even whether you understand it. It is not about understanding it is about obeying. If the Bible says it is evil it is evil for everyone. It does not matter what you think about it or even if you understand it. Again, it is not about understanding but obeying! Jesus said, "If ye love me keep my commandments."

Lamentation 3:38 - Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?

There is no blurring of the antithesis with God. No evil and good proceeding out of his mouth.

Amos 5:14 - Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

It is too bad that for most people evil and good is something that is just on the farthest reaches of the fringe, but in the practical areas of our lives it is all just one big gray area. What we wear, our hair lengths, our choices of entertainment, our speech, it just mostly does not matter. Modesty is whatever you think it is. Women cut their hair off as though God never spoke to the matter. We gorge ourselves on a diet of violence, sex, and worldliness in our entertainment all the while supporting an industry that is so totally against God that it should sicken us! Considering most people's choices for entertainment and music it is no wonder they have no discernment. They are so saturated with carnality in their entertainment that they would not know carnal living if it walked up and said, "Hello, my name is Carnal." Carnal? What's that??? I know, I know I am being legalistic and judgmental.

Matthew 7:18 - A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Note the antithesis. Note the strength of the connection. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.

Romans 12:21 - Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

They do not coexist. They are at eternal enmity with one another. One must always be overcoming. One always is overcoming. If you have afforded yourself the luxury of living in a spacious no-fire zone (gray area) then you do not have to be overly concerned with which is overcoming. After all with your philosophy it really does not matter. In fact maybe you've become so complacent that you don't even think you philosophy matters. You just want to be in a live and let live world. That is a very comfortable position, at least until judgment day!

1 Corinthians 15:33 - Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Enough said!!

Holy and Unholy

Leviticus 10:10 - And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

The crux of the matter. Putting a difference between holy and unholy. We have to judge things. We are required to label things. Some things are holy, some things are unholy! This is all well and fine with most people until you begin to walk through their gray area labeling things unholy and then boy howdy, listen to the pig squeal! The problem with all of us is that we don't want to be told that we are engaging in anything that is unholy. Even though we all are!

Ezekiel 22:26 - Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
Here the priest are being condemned for putting no difference between the holy and profane, they did not make a difference between the clean and the unclean. Are we to think that we will escape the censure of God if we are found guilty of a similar disobedience?

Ezekiel 44:23 - And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

Here we are told that not only are we to discern between holy and unholy but that God's leaders are to teach God's people the difference between the holy and the profane and cause them to discern between unclean and clean. That means that the minsters of God are to instruct in righteousness and also the principles of discernment that help us to see clearly what is holy and unholy. We are to deal with the issues and specifics and the principles underlying the issues.

Much of the problem today is a weak pulpit. So much of the preaching today is so shallow, and vauge, and general, and weak, and cowardly that it has no capacity to stop the encroachment of compromise in the churches. Our women dress like men and cut their hair like men. Our church members watched the latest hollywood movie on Saturday evening, and in many cases it is likely that their pastor did too. The people are saturated in contemporary christian music, rock music, country and western music. And no one calls them to account. Thus we continue the slow drift toward spiritual lethargy listening to the siren's song of grace, grace. And this in spite of the fact that the Bible says in:

Titus 2:11-14 - For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

So, in the end we will learn that the siren's song of grace, grace was in reality the Wicked One lulling us into complacency and turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.

By the way O, man of God Titus 2:15 says, These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

May God once again visit the pulpits of this land with a fire from heaven that will devour the stubble and that will ignite the flames of piety, passion, and holiness; without which no man shall see the Lord!

See It's Ugly Face!

I am convinced that none of us see sin for what it is. We do not loath it enough. We do not sufficiently despise it. We do not hate it with enough passion. We do not seek to identify it with enough discernment and discretion. We do not mourn and grieve over it as we should. The greatest grace we could have is to see sin in its true colors and be firmly aware of its encroachment in our lives.

Thus the following is presented to aid in the development of that grace in our lives it is from Thomas Watson's Body Of Divinity.

"What a heinous and execrable thing is sin! Sin is the distillation of all evil. The Scripture calls it the "accursed thing." It is compared to the venom of serpents, and the stench of sepulchers. The devil would paint sin with the pleasing colors of pleasure and profit--that he may make it look fair; but I shall pull off the paint, that you may see its ugly face! We are apt to have slight thoughts of sin, and say to it, as Lot of Zoar, "Is it not a little one?" But sin is a great evil.

Sin fetches its pedigree from hell; sin is from the devil. "He who commits sin is of the devil." Satan was the first actor of sin, and the first tempter to sin. Sin is the devil's first-born!

Sin is a defiling thing--a polluting thing. It is to the soul--as rust is to gold, as a stain to beauty. It makes the soul red with guilt, and black with filth! Sin in Scripture is compared to a "menstruous cloth," and to a "plague-sore." Sin has blotted out God's image, and stained the orient brightness of the soul.

Sin makes God loathe a sinner; and when a sinner sees his sin--he loathes himself!

Sin stamps the devil's image on a man. Malice is the devil's eye, hypocrisy his cloven foot. Sin turns a man into a devil. "One of you is a devil!" John 6:70

Sin is an act of rebellion against God. A sinner tramples upon God's law, crosses His will, and does all he can to affront, yes, to spite God!

Sin strikes at the very Deity. Sin is God's would-be murderer. Sin would not only unthrone God--but un-God Him. If the sinner could help it, God would no longer be God.

Sin is an act of ingratitude and unkindness. God feeds the sinner, keeps off evils from him, be-miracles him with mercy; but the sinner not only forgets God's mercies--but abuses them! He is the worse for mercy; like Absalom, who, as soon as David had kissed him, and taken him into favor, plotted treason against him! Like the mule, who kicks the mother after she has given it milk. God may upbraid the sinner, "I have given you, your health, strength, and estate; but you requite Me evil for good; you wound Me with My own mercies! Did I give you life--to sin against Me? Did I give you wages--to serve the devil? Is this your kindness to your Friend?

Sin is a disease. "The whole head is sick!" Some are sick with pride, others with lust, others with envy. Sin has distempered the intellectual part--it is a leprosy in the head; it has poisoned the vitals. It is with a sinner as with a sick patient--his palate is distempered--the sweetest things taste bitter to him. The Word, which is 'sweeter than the honey-comb," tastes bitter to him. Nothing can cure this disease, but the blood of the Physician!

Sin is an irrational thing. It makes a man act not only wickedly--but foolishly. It is absurd and irrational to prefer the less, before the greater. The sinner prefers the passing pleasures of sin, before eternal rivers of pleasures. Is it rational to lose heaven--for the indulging of a lust? Is it rational to gratify an enemy? When sin burns in the soul, Satan warms himself at this fire. Men's sins feast the devil.

Sin is a painful thing. It costs men much labor to pursue their sins. How do they tire themselves in doing the devil's drudgery! "They weary themselves to commit iniquity." What pains did Judas take to bring about his damnation! Many a man goes to hell, in the sweat of his brow.

Sin is the only thing God has antipathy against. God does not hate a man because he is poor, or despised in the world. The only thing which draws forth the keenness of God's hatred, is sin. "Oh, do not do this abominable thing, which I hate!" And surely, if the sinner dies under God's hatred, he cannot be admitted into the celestial mansions. Will God let that man live with Him--whom He hates? God will never lay such a viper in His bosom!"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Don't Bribe Them

The following is from a message entitled Teaching Children preached by C. H. Spurgeon. He is dealing with the topic of getting children to attend Sunday School.

"Don't bribe them - that is the only plan we object to; it is only adopted in schools of the lowest order; schools of so mean a class that, even the fathers and mothers of the children have too much sense to send them there; but then farmer Brown won't employ them, or the squire will turn them out of their situations; of if the children don't go to the school on Sundays, they shall not go on week days. O, that beggarly trick of bribing! I wish there were an end of it; it only shows the weakness, and degradation, and abomination of a sect that can not succeed without using so mean a system."

Of course the main difference today is the parent will generally send their kids anyplace that will take them off their hands for a few hours and consequently have no problem with the "bribe". Also, today churches have taken to bribing adults. We should not be surprised when kids who were coaxed to church with bubblegum and candy in the 60's and 70's are now demanding larger bribes in a new century. The bribes now come in the form of contemporary music, short sermons, casual dress, stroking the self-image, etc. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Book Review - Classical Christian Education

The book, The Case For Classical Christian Education is written by Douglas Wilson. He is one of my favorite authors and has written several books on the home all of which I have found to be very insightful. While I do not agree with all of his theology I have found that he is very thought-provoking in many areas of practical living. This book is 231 pages long and easy to read. He is a very interesting and knowledgeable writer. I read it over our recent vacation, along with some other things.

My reading of this book is the result of some things I was exposed to at the recent homeschool book fair we recently attended in Houston. I attended a couple of workshops on subjects, that come to find out, are a major part of classical education. Consequently my interest was stirred, so I began to do a little research and reading, on the Internet and otherwise. One book that seems to be a classic dealing with classical education is The Well-Trained Mind by I believe her name is Bauer???? I found the book but it was a little expensive for my present level of interest and a bit long. When I discovered that Wilson had written a book (actually a couple of books) on the subject I knew I could probably get a pretty good introduction to the concept of a Classical Christian Education.

The two workshops that I attended that got me to thinking were on Logic and Rhetoric. Before the weekend had come to an end I had come to understand that Classical Education is established on three basic pillars, the grammar stage, the logic stage, and the rhetoric stage.

If I understand correctly the grammar stage is the memorization of facts and roughly corresponds to the elementary age group. The logic stage is the orderly arrangement of the memorized facts and corresponds roughly to the junior high level. The rhetoric stage is the development of the ability to present the orderly arrangement of the facts (in both speaking and writing) with beauty and virtue and corresponds roughly to the high school years. This made a lot of sense to me.

Another element of classical education that seemed to be emphasized was the study of Latin and to a lesser degree Greek. Again, after listening and hearing the reasons the study of Latin made good sense.

While three of our six children have finished their education and one of them has only a year left, and another has only three years left and for the most part I am happy with the results I still want to think about the process of education and what is the most likely to produce believers who are both holy and smart! One guy at the homeschool book fair said, "We don't have to choose between holy or smart, we should aim for both."

I would be the first to admit that homeschooling can easily deteriorate into noschooling. This is not a good thing. We want to raise kids who love God and are able to articulate that love for God in a compelling fashion. Consequently academics cannot be abandoned.

As expected I found Douglas Wilson's book to be very informative and interesting. My mind is churning. He writes the book from the standpoint of a Classical Christian academy which they have at the church where he ministers. Nevertheless the principles can be applied to the homeschool setting.

The following is just a few of the things I highlighted in the book.

"As a whole, the government school system has said yet to drugs, and students by the thousands found themselves on Ritalin, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, or other related drugs."

"Our civil disintegration in the schools is the clear result of two principle factors: Our children are under-disciplined and over medicated."

"But we do not need gun control, but self control."

"Many hours of slack-jaw entertainment cannot be good for the cultivation of academic rigor."

". . . .the fundamental problem of parental abdication remains."

"Education is fundamentally religious."

"The one type of person who cannot be educated appears to be the American education professional."

"The government schools will stop what they are doing when the American taxpayer stops giving them raises for doing it."

Speaking of those who founded our nation he writes, "They established a constitutional republic, not a democracy, and it is a sign of our current ignorance that we do not even know the difference between the two."

"The Christian faith does very poorly as mere decorative material."

"A citizenry may be taxed in order to fund those activities that God requires of the civil magistrate, but secular education is not one of those activities."

"Excellence in education is the result of vision, hard work, parental love, and a clear sense of mission."

". . . . we will not tailor our curriculum to suit the student; rather, we educate the student so that he conforms to, and masters, the curriculum."

"Christian parents who have abdicated responsibility for their children to the government school are guilty of sinful negligence."

"Stephen Perks makes the point well: 'Either we educate our children in terms of a Christian culture, or we hand them over to be educated by humanists as pagans.'"

"The mark of such an education is confident humility."

"Although they would never state is so badly, they appear to have quietly translated the Great Commission into something like, 'Therefore go unto all nation, and do your best to fit right in, supplementing their perspective with your perspective.'"

"Before we can win the children of the world we have to stop losing our children to that world."

"Every culture has blasphemy laws. . . . In our pluralistic times, these blasphemy laws are called 'hate crimes' legislation, among other euphemisms, but they are really religious protections to keep the reigning god, demos, from being blasphemed."

"Schools that effectively teach our children to live as Christians (in all humility) will be schools that are accused of encouraging arrogance."

"For example we have gotten to the point where a preacher can spend the entire sermon talking about himself and his own struggles, and everyone says that he is being open, honest, transparent, and humble. Another man, who proclaims the truth in a way that indicates something would be true had he never been born is dismissed as an arrogant man."

"The right of one person to a living wage is a demand place upon another person to pay it, and the assumed right of an intrusive government to enforce it."

"In the world created by God, inequities are not removable."

"In actual fact, when liberty is granted, the first thing to disappear is equality of station. And if equality is mandated, then it will be at the coast of liberty."

"The purpose of an open mind . . . is the same as the purpose of an open mouth - it is meant to close on something."

"Everything is connected."

"Christian colleges are a major part of our problem."

"We do not need any more born-again Christian souls thinking pagan thoughts, locked away inside pagan bodies, jobs, hands, clothes, cars, and houses."

"God is not only a larger version of us, only bigger and smarter."

"God's word is affirmed in theory but ignored in practice."

"And because the world around us resembles a particularly persistent and thick fog, some of it gets in."

"Christian students in government schools come to share the worldview of their teachers - not the worldview of their families or their churches. Christian students in the average, generic Christian school fare little better."

"We should never tire of repeating that religious claims are total."

"Education is for life."

In reference to the grammar state of a classical education he writes, "math has a grammar . . . . addition tables and subtraction tables. In geography the grammar would be rivers, towns, continents, and mountain ranges. The grammar of history would be timelines, names, dates, and battles."

In reference to the dialectic or logic stage he writes, "After a child has memorized piles of data, he or she must learn how to sort them out."

In reference to the rhetoric stage he writes, "The study of rhetoric, according to Quintilian, concerns the art of a good man speaking well. Polish without substance is sophistry. Substance without polish is . . . well, actually we don't know what it is because nobody pays any attention to it."

". . . all Christian educators must know that clear thinking is a moral issue. Blurry thinking is one of the great sins of the age."

"Learning to distinguish rightly, learning to evaluate, is the meaning of holiness."

"The reason we have so many 'undisciplined' kids trying so hard to be 'cool' is not because they are slovenly or lazy. They are trying to 'present' but have not been taught how to do so. The result is various, disheveled 'rhetorics': 'Dude, like I was totally there.'"

"At the crossroads of life, it appears that we always have to give a reason for going right instead of left. If we drop our dress code requirements, virtually no one wants to know why? But if we tighten those same requirements, we had better have all our reasons lined up in a row. Few have to give a reason for lowering the bar. Reasons are always necessary for raising it."

"The study of Latin promotes mental discipline; it encourages literary appreciation; it leads to a mastery of English; it provides a solid foundation for preparation for Christian ministry."

"Once the standards start to slip, they slide across the board, culture-wide, and it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to maintain the higher standards.
(this is true in any area)

"The natural tendency is always down."

"The Christian ministry is not a place for intellectual slackness."

"Given a sharp and eager mind, eloquence is picked up more readily by those who read and listen to the words of the eloquent than by those who follow the rules of eloquence."

"Refusal to discipline in a classroom setting is a refusal to protect the process of learning."

"The entertainment model of education wants the students to enjoy themselves; the older classical model wants students to be disciplined so that they come to enjoy their work."

"The problem of metamorphing is why Veggie Tales are so objectionable. King David was not a turnip, or whatever it is they have him as. The loss sustained by Christian kids who are told this stuff is incalculable. If kids learn more about the meaning of true kingship from Aragorn than they do from a story about Solomon, something is seriously distorted. But modern evangelicals are terminally irreverent."

"When truths are badly adorned, or unadorned, the results are fatal."

"Teachers must be themselves teachable."

"What might be called the 'casual imperative' has established itself in the American mind as the ultimate desideratum. Whatever else you do in the morning when you dress, make sure you make yourself comfortable."

"Everything is to be brought into submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, and every thought is to be made captive, every collar obedient, and every pair of slacks honoring to him."

"Modern evangelicals like to assume that their lives accord with Scripture, and so they often assert that Scripture says nothing about what kind of clothes we are to wear. But this idea is suspended on nothing but people's own desires. The Bible says a great deal about clothing."

"But the triad we want to urge in classical Christian education is truth, goodness, and beauty."

"The wearing of clothes that do not fit, does not flatter, and does not proclaim the lordship of Christ is commonplace, and unbelievers will frankly acknowledge that this is the statement they are trying to make through their appearance."

"But modern evangelical Christians, who have an eagle eye when it comes to imitating anything the world does, are blind to why the world is doing it."

"Imitators of the world's culture from within the church know everything about the world's culture - except what it means."

"The desire to fit in or to be thought cool is not a new phenomenon. The Bible calls it worldliness."

"True teaching, then, is not that which gives knowledge, but that which stimulates pupils to gain it."

"A homeschool is more like to suffer the temptation of allowing an undisciplined, nonacademic atmosphere to take over - and so on."

". . . one of the fundamental duties of all educators is to maintain a keen sense of the antithesis between right and wrong, good and evil."

Book rating ****

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Instructions For Daily Conduct

The following is from Mason's Select Remains.

For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus - 1 Thessalonians. 4:2

1. Make the word of God the rule of all you do.

2. Whatever you do, do it in the strength of Christ. Without Christ, you can do nothing. Of yourself, you cannot even think a good thought; but you may do all things, through Christ strengthening you. Nature is a dry root--no gracious actions spring from it. Grace depends on continual supplies from Christ--as of sap from the root. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, and then nothing shall be too hard for you. All things are possible to him who believes and relies upon Christ's power.

3. As we are to act by the power of Christ, so we are to present our services for acceptance in the name of Christ. The best we can do--needs His intercession, blood, and merits--to render it acceptable to God. In the Lord alone--we have righteousness and strength.

4. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Selfishness is the natural idolatry of the human heart. The design and tendency of piety is to take the heart off self--and set it upon God. That duty which does not begin and end with God is no part of godliness. Self must be cast down--and God alone exalted.

5. To spend every day well, let your waking thoughts be with God; let your fervent prayers ascend in the name of Christ; let the Word of God be your counselor; let the fear of God be always before your eyes. In all your actions, let integrity and uprightness preserve you. Set a watch over your lips, and a guard upon your spirit, that you be not provoked to anger, nor speak unadvisedly with your lips.

6. At night, review the actions of the day. Give to God the glory of what has been good; take shame to yourself for what has been evil. Review the dispensations of God's providences--and consider their special meaning and application. Acknowledge the mercies of God received through the day. Submit to the afflictions laid upon you. Commit yourselves afresh to the mercy and protection of God, through Jesus Christ--that you may be preserved through the slumbers of the night, and be permitted to wake in peace--whether it be in earth or heaven.

By these points let every action be examined--
By whose rule have I acted?
In whose strength have I acted?
In whose name have I acted?
For whose glory have I acted?
What faith, humility, self-denial, love to God and Christ, have there been in my actions?

Little Sins

The following is from John Flavel's, Keeping The Heart.

"Perhaps the smallness of the sin is urged as a reason why you may commit it: "It is but a little sin--a small matter--a trifle!"

But, if you commit this little sin--you will offend a great God! Is there any little hell to torment little sinners in? No! The least sinners in hell are full of misery! There is great wrath treasured up for those whom the world regard as little sinners.

The less the sin--the less the inducement you should have to commit it. Will you provoke God for a trifle? Will you destroy your peace, wound your conscience, and grieve the Spirit--all for nothing? What madness is this!"

8 Random Facts About Me

My Dad tagged me. So I am going to list eight random things about me.

1. I surrendered to preach at the ripe ole' age of 14.

2. I have never been competent in math.

3. I was first chair Euphonium from my sophomore year in high school until graduation. I beat out two seniors my sophomore year.

4. I have had to battle a short temper.

5. I was married at the age of 19.

6. I worked as an electrician for three years.

7. I wish I had applied myself in English class.

8. I wish I had learned Latin. I may yet??

Carnally Minded

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6

Let a man profess what he will--if his thoughts are generally conversant about earthly and worldly things--he has an earthly and worldly mind. And if his thoughts are generally conversant about sensual things--he has a sensual and carnal mind.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: . . . . Proverbs 23:7
John Owen

"That's All The Bullet We Had"

The following was sent to my by a good preacher friend:

Florida 's got it right...bravo for Sheriff Judd!!!

As reported earlier this week, some dirt bag who got pulled over in a routine traffic stop in Florida ended up "executing" the deputy who stopped him. The deputy was shot eight times, including once behind his right ear at close range. Another deputy was wounded and a police dog killed.

A statewide manhunt ensued. The low-life was found hiding in a wooded area with his gun. SWAT team officers fired and hit the guy 68 times.

Now here's the kicker: Naturally, the media asked why they shot him 68 times. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, told the Orlando Sentinel, "That's all the bullets we had."

A Man's God

"A man's god is that which . . .
has the greatest influence over him;
he sets the highest value upon;
he chiefly devotes himself and his energies."
Henry Law

Blessed Are They That Mourn

The following is from Thomas Watson's, "Harmless as Doves"

"Grace dissolves and liquifies the soul, causing a spiritual thaw. The sorrow of the heart, runs out at the eye.

A godly heart grieves that it is not more holy. It troubles him that he falls short of the rule and standard which God has set. "I should", he says, "love the Lord with all my heart. But how defective my love is! How far short I come of what I should be, no, of what I might have been!"

A godly man sometimes weeps out of the sense of God's love. Gold is the finest and most solid of all the metals, yet it is soonest melted in the fire. Gracious hearts, which are golden hearts--are the soonest melted into tears, by the fire of God's love.

A godly person weeps because the sins he commits are in some sense worse than the sins of other men. The sin of a justified person is very odious, because it is a sin of unkindness. Peter's denying of Christ was a sin against love. Christ had enrolled him among the apostles. He had taken him up into the Mount and shown him the glory of heaven in a vision. Yet after all this mercy, it was base ingratitude that he should deny Christ. This made him go out and 'weep bitterly.' He baptized himself, as it were, in his own tears.

The sins of the godly, go nearest to God's heart.

The sins of the wicked--anger the Lord.
The godly man's sins--grieve Him.

The sins of the wicked--pierce Christ's side.
The sins of the godly--wound His heart.

How far from being godly--are those who scarcely ever shed a tear for sin!"

Monday, July 23, 2007

Critters At Pedernales

I also saw a gray fox cross the road in the same spot on two evenings. The first time I was by myself, the second time the family was with me and saw it as well. I went back three more evenings with my camera between 7:00 and 7:30 which is the time I had observed it both evenings, but it did not show up. Oh,'ll just have to believe me!

Rain At Pedernales

Fortunately it only rained that last day we were there. We got caught in a brief shower on the second Tuesday as we were hiking around to Enchanted Rock and then again on the second Thursday as we were hiking the four mile loop trail. Overall the weather was nice but it did rain most of the last Friday we were there, the day before we left. We did not have much planned for that day anyhow.

Sunset At Pedernales

A couple of the evenings we were there the sunsets were absolutely glorious! Truly the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth his handiwork!