Monday, November 30, 2009

Apparently Some People ARE Against the War

A few people from the political left are actually speaking out against the latest troop build-up in Afghanistan. I recently wondered if this would ever happen. I'm glad to see some folks standing up to more militarism. I'll admit that I find it more than a bit uncomfortable to be agreeing with Michael Moore; I suppose politics "does make strange bedfellows."

Let's Keep Working

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Courtesy of Joshua Project

FYI - click here for a very helpful page from JP (select a country and get mounds of info).

Speaking "Your Truth" or "The Truth"?

One of the hallmarks of our post-modern age is the denial of absolute truth. We are now told that "our truth" is no better than "anyone else's truth." The very concept of truth has become utterly subjective.

I noticed this fact earlier today in a CNN article entitled, "Speak Your Truth." I think the article originated at What is interesting about the article is that the author confuses truth with opinion and personal preference. Ironically, the person described in the article acts (whether he knows it or not) based upon what is accepted as absolute truth.

The bible has something to say about all this. In scripture, truth is defined by God and is therefore objective. We are reminded of this in Ephesians 4:15, which says, "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ." (ESV)

As followers of Christ, we must engage the culture by presenting truth as objective. We cannot surrender the truth that real truth exists.

The good thing for us is that God has created all humans in His image. Because of this, we all believe in absolute truth to one degree or another. Some folks deny the existence of absolute truth in theory, but when it comes down to their own lives/rights/property, they will revert to absolute truth.

Let us engage the culture with the truth of the gospel.

Photos of Pilgrimage to Mecca

Regardless of your religious beliefs, the annual Islamic pilgrimage is a significant world event. Click here to see some photos from last week.

May we Christians win many Muslims to the gospel truth through sacrificial love.

John 12:24, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain."

My Ten Favorite Blogs - #7

#7 - Native Pilgrim

For one thing, I like Native Pilgrim because of its title. The similarity in name and theme with my blog should be obvious.

The Native Pilgrim himself, Michael DeBusk, is a friend of mine from back in seminary days. Mike and I also worked together at UPS, battling countless packages and personalities.

This blog has many positives that earn it a ranking in my top ten. First of all, Mike is an excellent writer (he's a bit of a smarty-pants, but I'm willing to forgive him that). Second, Mike writes knowledgeably about a wide variety of topics. Third, Mike is a church historian of the first rank. Since I enjoy church history, his blog is a good fit.

One word of warning: Mike is a Tennessee Volunteers fan through-and-through. He even played in the band. I guess we all have our serious faults. Despite this downfall, take a look at his blog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where are All the War Protesters?

(I don't venture into politics too often, but felt like I should address this particular issue. FYI - I am politically neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Instead, I stand with the U.S. Constitution. I suppose this makes me an historic conservative. Put me in the Ron Paul camp.)

Our previous president (for clarification - George W. Bush) began our involvement in two wars that, in my opinion, should never had been fought. Thousands of American soldiers have died for what seems to be little gain. Beyond that, many more Iraqi and Afghani citizens have perished. As an added insult, our reputation as a freedom-loving, human-rights-protecting country has been severely damaged.

During the former president's tenure, war protesters appeared around the country on a fairly regular basis. It seemed that every few months another big protest would be held in Washington. These protesters were angry and felt free to tell people about it.

One of the prongs of our current president's (for clarification- Barack Obama) presidential campaign was that he would bring our soldiers home soon. He had to say this because all the other Democratic party candidates were saying the same thing. There seemed to be a contest between the candidates to see who could get the troops home the quickest.

Once elected, President Obama had to deal with the mess that President Bush left him in Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to keep his campaign promises, President Obama should have begun bringing many more soldiers home before now. He certainly would have my full support in doing that (he gets little support from me in other areas, but I digress). However, the president instead continues to be influenced by the military "powers-that-be," and now intends to increase the number of our troops in Afghanistan even though there is absolutely no evidence that this will help at all.

Here is my question: Where are the war protesters now?

If the president is strongly considering making an announcement this week about increasing troops in Afghanistan, then why isn't there a huge anti-war protest going on right now in Washington? Where are all the people who so vehemently used to be against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

It appears that we have run into more than a little hypocrisy on the part of the most war protesters. If a neo-conservative Republican president is responsible for our involvement, then they protest. However, if a liberal Democratic president keeps us in the wars and increases our involvement, then this is accepted as tolerable by the majority of protesters.

It is obvious that more than simple war-involvement is in play here. Apparently war is acceptable if the president agrees with the protesters in theory but not in practice.

Will the protesters personal like for the president continue to stand in the way of their stance against the wars?

I wonder how long they will accept what they said they would never accept.

My Ten Favorite Blogs - #8

#8 - Between the Times

BTT is an excellent blog that is published by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (where I went to school).

At first, the thought of reading a seminary blog may seem as exciting as watching the grass grow. However, this blog is much more than just dense theological discussions and debate. BTT deals with real-world issues. For example, the writers have recently addressed the salvation of infants, how to prepare for corporate worship, and gospel-centered missions.

One thing I really like about this blog is that the writers, who are all Southern Baptists, frequently challenge the typical Southern Baptist status-quo. This is refreshing.

Another bonus to BTT is that the contributers are genuinely good writers. They do a good job of engaging difficult issues in a manner that makes you want to read what they have to say. On top of this, there is a spirit of humility to BTT that is, I believe, God-honoring.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why are We Upset with the Culture but not with the Church?

The bible is clear that non-Christians are dead in their sins. Because of this, it should be obvious that non-Christians are going to act like spiritually dead people. They are going to act like the world. To expect lost people to act in any other way is an absurdity. However, this is what many Christians expect as they fight the never-ending culture wars of the day. Why do followers of Christ spend so much time and effort in trying to persuade the government to create laws that will legislate "Christian morality" upon our secular culture?

Let me be clear: if we expect non-Christians to live according to biblical standards, we are being unbiblical and foolish.

The flip side of this coin is that the bible is clear that Christians have been made spiritually alive by God. Because of this gift of God, we can live according to God's standards. In fact, we should live by the standards of morality set forth in the scriptures. Being new creations, Christians can and should strive for holiness, humility, generosity, etc. that we find in the bible.

Why is it then that we Christians tolerate so much sin and discord within the church? We might take stands against those sins that we find most troublesome (such as sexual immorality), but we usually shy away from confronting people over sins of speech and tongue such as pride, gossip, slander, selfishness, deceitfulness, etc. This should not be the case because, as said above, Christians are able to and should live holy lives.

The big question is this: Why are we upset with our secular culture over its sin but not upset with the church over its sin?

The secular culture is, by definition, going to be worldly and unholy. After all, it is secular. The church, however, ought not be unholy. Christians have every ability to not sin after we are saved. Within the church family, we should (in humility and love) confront one another over our sinful attitudes and actions.

Let us strive for the holiness of the church. Secular culture will never be holy; the church should be.

Far too often, we demand holiness from secularists, while at the same time accepting unholiness from those who should, by definition, be holy.

My Ten Favorite Blogs - #9

#9 - The Contemporary Calvinist

Lee Shelton writes about a variety of topics ranging from theology to cultural issues. He usually tackles these from an apologetic perspective. I find myself frequently challenged by what he writes about the Christian walk - especially whether or not I am living a sacrificial, loving life.

The best part about Shelton's blog is his weekly feature entitled This Week in Calvinism. Keeping in mind that Lee is a Calvinist (see the blog title for that obvious one), he writes from a Reformed perspective. In This Week in Calvinism, Lee points out various things that are happening in the evangelical world related to Calvinism. These come mostly in the form of links - to historical writings, to Reformed authors, to people writing in favor of Calvinism, to people writing against Calvinism, and (humorously) to people writing against Calvinism who have no real idea what Calvinism even is.

This blog is a fun one and is worth taking a look at.

The Second Coming? No.

Click here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Interesting, but I'll Stick with the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and Prayer

Click here for an interesting article on locations for seeking "the divine."

I'm glad followers of Christ are not required to travel to any particular place to find Him. The Holy spirit, the scriptures, and prayer are all we need.

A Thought on Black Friday

Materialism in the West has become a religion. Many folks are deeply devoted to getting more and more stuff. This was on crystal-clear display once again this morning.

What would happen if Christians in this country were as devoted to Christ as the materialists are to their religion?

A problem: we have too many people trying to serve both Christ and materialism.

God does not share His glory.

My Ten Favorite Blogs - #10

#10 - "the voice of one crying out in suburbia..."

I enjoy Arthur Sido's writing because he isn't afraid to tackle difficult issues. Arthur speaks frankly and "calls a spade a spade." Because of this style, some people will not like his blog. I, however, find it refreshing.

Additionally, Arthur is a Christian homeschooler with eight kids. That is impressive (he must have an amazing wife). I appreciate his perspective on home education.

Finally, Arthur holds some views on the church that will not be popular in most of American society. I don't even agree with everything he writes. However, Arthur desires to be biblical and challenges much of cultural-traditional church in the USA. It makes for interesting and challenging reading.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Ten Favorite Blogs

I enjoy reading blogs as much as I enjoy blogging myself. Reading other blogs often teaches me a great deal and challenges me in my Christian walk. It is encouraging to read about how the Lord is working in the lives of Christian brothers and sisters.

As with many of you, I enjoy reading about a variety of topics - from bible, theology, and church to homeschooling, politics, and vacations. In my experience, no one blogger has cornered the market. I've learned a lot from many different bloggers.

For no particular reason, I've decided to list my ten favorite blogs in descending order. I admit up front that this is extremely subjective. These are the blogs that I enjoy reading the most - it is that simple.

I'll begin with #10 tomorrow.

For today, I'll just mention my favorite humor blog - Calvinistic Cartoons. Because I'm a Calvinist, this blog strikes me as particularly funny.

FYI - I used to write as part of a satirical blog called Tom in the Box. My writer's name was Elder Eric.

Robot Mascot? I Don't Think So

The crazies at PETA want the University of Georgia to make the change to a robot mascot. Absurd.

Postmodern Politics

When the leaders of a nation no longer believe in absolute truth and absolute ethics, that nation is in deep trouble. This is postmodernism run amok.

The Only One Who Doesn't Need to Give Thanks

We have all been given great gifts in our lives. The number would be too big to count if we actually took the time to think about it in detail. I'm using the term "gift" here to refer to any good thing in life, not just what we unwrap at Christmas.

Some of the thanks we owe for these gifts goes to those close to us. For example, I owe much thanks to my parents and my wife.

There is one being who deserves ALL my thanks - God.

Interestingly, God is the one being who owes no thanks to anyone else. How could He? He has never been given anything. He is the Creator and the Redeemer. To Him be the glory!

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers." Psalm 24:1-2

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." Acts 17:24-25

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh, Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is Good!

Psalm 107:1-43

1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
3 And gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
9 For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons --
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High,
12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; they fell down, and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces.
15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron in two.
17 Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
18 Their soul abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.
20 He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.
23 Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
28 Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven.
31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, and praise Him in the company of the elders.
33 He turns rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;
34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water, and dry land into watersprings.
36 There He makes the hungry dwell, that they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
37 And sow fields and plant vineyards, that they may yield a fruitful harvest.
38 He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly; and He does not let their cattle decrease.
39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, affliction and sorrow,
40 He pours contempt on princes, and causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
41 Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, and makes their families like a flock.
42 The righteous see it and rejoice, and all iniquity stops its mouth.
43 Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bible Reading Only

Do you ever find yourself only wanting to read the bible?

That is where I am right now and I can't explain it. Generally speaking, I like to read other things. My shelf at home is full of good books on various topics that are just waiting to be read. These topics include theology, preaching, and prayer. I've also got quick access to all sorts of good non-theological works.

Despite the abundance of other good books, I have no desire to read any of them right now. As far as reading is concerned, the desire of my heart is to only read the bible. I have no interest in other things.

Of course, we all know the bible is a significantly different book than any other. Because it is God's inspired word, the bible is true and authoritative like no other. In fact, all other books pale in comparison. Despite this, we should still have freedom to read other books as long as they are appropriate for a Christian.

So what should I do? Is my current situation a blessing or a problem? I have to think that it is a blessing. This desire has caused me to read more bible lately than I normally do. This has, in turn, caused me to reflect more upon God and His majesty.

How long will this last? I have no idea. I'm going to take advantage of it by reading much of the scriptures.

Has this ever happened to you? Can you describe it?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Interesting Article on Living in Jerusalem's Old City

"There are single shops where tourists can pick up a Jewish menorah, an olive wood crucifix, or a plate depicting al-Aqsa mosque."

"And there are the smells, incense wafts from churches mixing with the aroma of roasting Arabic coffee, and the pungent reek of rotting vegetables."

"We hear the bells from the Holy Sepulchre church, the horn announcing the start of the Jewish Sabbath, and at dusk every night the Muslim call to prayer echoes over the forest of rooftop satellite dishes."

To read the entire article, click here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

100 Things for Which I'm Thankful

This is a list of 100 things I am thankful to God for. The list is by no means exhaustive. It does have some order to it, but is also somewhat random. The links have little rhyme or reason to them.

1. The Trinity
2. God the Father
3. God the Son
4. God the Holy Spirit
6. The life of Christ
7. The cross of Christ
8. The death of Christ
10. The victory of Christ
11. The intercession of Christ
12. The second coming of Christ
13. The eternal reign of Christ
14. Grace
15. Mercy
16. Hope
17. Faith
18. Love
19. Creation
20. Nature
21. Being created in the image of God
22. Salvation
23. Predestination
25. Justification
26. Redemption
28. Adoption
29. Sanctification
30. Glorification
31. Eternal life
32. Seeing God
33. Serving God
34. Heaven
35. Hell
37. New Jerusalem
38. The bible
39. The truth of the bible
40. The inspiration of the bible
41. The authority of the bible
42. The sufficiency of the bible
43. My family
45. My children (Caroline, Mary, and Bobby)
46. My parents
47. Family bible study/worship
48. Spending time with family
50. Watching my kids learn
51. Learning from my kids
52. Reading
54. Growing together in Christ
55. Singing to God
56. Encouraging and being encouraged
57. Edifying and being edified
58. Preaching the scriptures
59. Learning from others
60. Celebrating the Lord's Supper
61. Singing old hymns
62. Singing modern hymns
63. Singing praise choruses
64. Spending time with other friends
65. Being included in God's mission to the lost
66. Sharing the gospel
67. India
69. Indian friends
70. Living in India for four months
71. Chai tea
72. My son is healthy
74. Seeing God heal my son
75. Remission
76. Legos
77. Living in the South
78. Living in Georgia
80. The historic district of Savannah
82. Our time in seminary
86. Running/jogging
87. Swimming
89. Fires in the backyard
90. S'mores
91. Coffee
93. Cub Scouts
94. Campouts
95. Modern transportation
96. College football
97. Baseball
99. e-mail

What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Sad Day in Savannah

Uga VII has died. All Savannah mourns. Hyperbole intended.

All is Providence

Question: What are God's works of providence?

Answer: God's works of providence are the holy, wise, and powerful acts by which He preserves and governs all His creatures and all their actions.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

World Population Clock

Click here to visit this helpful tool from Joshua Project.

On the Importance of Reading Different Viewpoints on the News

It is dangerous to only listen to and/or read news we agree with. When we do this, we fail to see why people think what they think and do what they do. We begin to think that only we are correct. It fosters an us-versus-them mentality.

A sad example of this is occurring in our country right now. Many conservative Christians only watch or read FOX NEWS. The problem with this is two-fold. First, FOX is politically conservative, but this does not equate to being biblical. Second, the news that FOX presents is almost always slanted to the right. So if we only watch FOX, we only see a narrow view of the issues.

As a counterpoint, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC all slant to the left.

What are we to do?

Why don't we listen to/watch/read news from multiple sources? This provides a much broader view of what is happening in the USA and around the world. It keeps us from getting stuck in our own little bubble.

I suggest reading from several of the US news agencies. For example, the FOX and CNN sites offer a good balance to each other. Another good place to look is the BBC.

Let me suggest one other spot: Al Jazeera. Yes, you can read it in English. This news site is going to look at world events through a far different lens than what we see here in the West. Al Jazeera presents news from more of a Middle Eastern view.

We may not agree with some or much of what is written at Al Jazeera. That's fine. At least read what people from other places are saying and why they are saying it. Let yourself be challenged.
Failing to look at anything other than FOX NEWS is a little like refusing to ever read anything by anyone who is not a conservative Christian. Just because we read something we disagree with, this doesn't mean that we have to agree with it.

Let's dare to look beyond what makes us comfortable. This includes the news we read.

But for the Grace of God...

When we read an article like this one, it is easy to (in our flesh) begin to feel good about ourselves. We may think, "I would never do something as terrible as that!" When we feel that way, it is pride speaking. Instead, our reaction ought to be one of praise and thanks to God for saving us from our own wretched sinfulness. Additionally, instead of hating the people we read about in this story, we should love them sacrificially and hope for their salvation.

What Do the Bible and the Constitution Have in Common?

Answer: Both authoritative documents are selectively ignored by liberals and conservatives in order that they may achieve their own preferred goals.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sovereignty and Responsibility in Two Verses

I've heard people say that if God is sovereign over salvation, then man cannot have real responsibility to come to God. In reverse, others have said that since man has clear biblical responsibility to turn to God, therefore, God cannot be sovereign over salvation.

The above claims, however, do not stem from the teachings of scripture. Instead, they come from what some people believe "makes sense." These people see the issues of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility as mutually exclusive. In other words, if one is true then the other cannot be.

As I've been studying to preach on Matthew chapter 11 this coming Sunday, I came across two verses, which fall back-to-back in the same conversation, where Jesus first discusses His sovereignty over salvation and then gives the gospel call to all people (illustrating clearly man's responsibility).

The passage in context comes from Matthew 11:25-30 (with the key verses in bold font): At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We can see in 11:27 that the Son (Jesus) chooses to reveal the Father to whomever He chooses. This language demonstrates God's complete sovereignty over salvation. The language is just about as clear as it can be.

In the next verse (11:28), we read Jesus call everyone around Himself to come to Him. This call is directed to all people. It shows that all have the responsibility to turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

These two verses are extremely significant because they fall back-to-back, they are spoken by the same person, and they occur within the same context. Based on these two verses alone, we can see that both God is sovereign over salvation and man is fully responsible to believe. These truths are, therefore, not mutually exclusive. We must embrace them as true even if they do not "make sense" to us.

To Be Berean or Not To Be Berean

Acts 17:10-11, "The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."


I Am Convinced...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


No, this is not a blog post about politics.

Rather, it is a post about different tyrannies we face in life - usually every day.

I'm referring to those things that we have to deal with every day that are (at least in most cases) a consequence of living in a fallen world. They are things we would be thrilled to avoid, but we cannot.

An example, and the one I will be writing about first, is the tyranny of the now. This is when the demands of the moment seem to take over our day and keep us from getting done the "big picture" things we would like to accomplish.

Different tyrannies in life take up much of our time and patience. They tire us. They often wear us out.

I'll be discussing the tyrannies that I deal with the most. At the same time, I'm interested in what your tyrannies are. Let me know.

On to the tyranny of the now...

The Socialist Brain (Humor)

Are You Addicted to Facebook?

Apparently some people are.

This is why I banned myself from Facebook until after the new year.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Take a Look at BBC News

As Americans, we tend to look at news reports that are almost all "America-focused." Even when the reports are about something that is happening in another part of the world, the lens through which the report is made is the American lens.

It is refreshing to look at international news from a different perspective. In order to get outside the USA-bubble, I like to look at BBC News. The BBC does a good job of reporting what is happening around the world - and they don't see through an America-focused lens. I certainly don't agree with everything the BBC says, but that is to be expected from any news agency.

Another bonus to BBC coverage is that the BBC is not embroiled in the current culture war news programming that we have in the USA. You know how it goes: if you want the Republican/conservative slant, you go to Fox News or the Drudge Report. If you want the Democratic/liberal slant, you go to the news affiliates at CNN, CBS, ABC, or especially MSNBC.

The BBC is by no means objective (who can be?), but it does look at the happenings around the globe through what I believe is a wider lens. Since the world does not revolve around the USA, we should look for news from a broader perspective.

Final bonus: when we read about news from other countries, we can get a feel for the need for the gospel in those places. We are reminded that the citizens of other countries have far less than we do here - both in terms of physical possessions and access to the gospel.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Online Churches - Something Doesn't Seem Right

It may be difficult to believe, but some churches now exist exclusively online. I can see that this may be an advantage for folks who are living in isolated locations. However, the lack of community seems to be a big problem. How do you carry out the "one-anothers" of scripture if you are separated by thousands of miles? In the end, the cons outweigh the pros.

See what you think by clicking here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is a Biblical Response to Muslims?

Instead of trying to argue Muslims into Christianity, maybe we should follow a biblical approach by being willing to lovingly die for them.

Jesus tells us in John 12:24, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain."

Click here to watch a short video of Christian who recently gave his life to save Muslims. I have no doubt that those who he saved will be much more willing to now listen to the gospel message.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You Veterans

I Love This Hospital Sign

I was recently visiting in a local hospital when I noticed the above sign. It apparently is designed to remind us of the importance of cleaning our hands. It was placed on a wall just above a container of hand sanitizer. The white blob in the middle of the hand is, I think, supposed to be some sanitizer.

I like the sign because it reminds me of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Before you object, I do know that Christ was probably actually pierced through His wrists. However, the symbolism of the above sign still stands. It is nice to be walking through a hospital and be reminded of the atonement.

Additionally, I love the fact that this sign goes along with a cleansing agent. This is an additional reminder that Jesus' sacrifice cleansed me of my sin. No amount of self-applied sanitizer will wash away sin; the blood of Christ shed at Calvary is the only effective sanitizer for my soul.

I'll admit that I don't particularly like hospitals. However, at least these signs give me a reminder of who I am and whose I am.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Troubled by Blogging Arrogance

Blogs are a great place to air our opinions and engage in discussion and even debate. I enjoy blogging because it helps me synthesize what I am thinking and because I learn a great deal from what other people think.

I have to admit, however, that I am growing increasingly tired of what I'll refer to as "blogging arrogance." In particular, I'm tired of Christian bloggers who display a great deal of arrogance in their writing. I'm referring to those who write as if they are the select ones who have figured everything out. The rest of us, apparently, remain in the dark.

These bloggers usually discuss issues secondary to the gospel that have been debated for years (the truth of the gospel itself is not up for debate). Instead of issuing opinions, they state what they believe as if it is fact. Other opinions/positions are mocked and even ridiculed.

I'm referring to topics such as the end times, the church, God's sovereignty/man's responsibility, the ordinances/sacraments, worship style, etc.

We can all fall prey to the "blogging arrogance" problem. I'll admit that I've done it myself. It is so easy to move from writing that is mutually beneficial to writing that is designed to stroke our own egos and allow us to think that we have "one-upped" somebody else.

Let us all strive for humility in all aspects of life - including blogging.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Good Advice from John

Near the end of his second and third letters, the apostle John writes these words:

II John 12, "Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete." (ESV)

III John 13, "I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face."

We would be wise to follow this advice when we disagree in the blogosphere.

In perusing various blogs over the past several years, I have come across seemingly countless interchanges, usually in the "comments" sections, where people are downright nasty to one another. And these are Christians writing on Christian blogs!

Far too many times it seems as if the discussions in the blog world are not real communication. Instead of listening, people tend to try to "one-up" the others and delve into needless argumentation.

Misunderstanding is one of the reasons for these problematic interchanges. The obvious reason for this is that the vast majority of real communication comes through non-verbal cues and tone of voice.

Instead of getting into more pointless arguments in the blog world, we would be wise to follow John's advice. Let's make a point of talking with others in person - especially when we disagree. If we live too far apart for that, then why not at least have a telephone conversation?

Winning arguments through a witty zinger in the comments section of some blog does little to further the kingdom of heaven.

Christlike conversation in person or over the phone which leads to understanding is something that pleases God.

According to John, this may even lead to our joy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Exploring Affinity Groups

Affinity groups are, according to the IMB, "large groupings of related people that share similar origins, languages, and cultures." Focusing on affinity groups (as opposed to geographical regions of the world) is a new strategy by the IMB.

Click here to visit an interesting site/map that helps you look at different affinity groups around the globe.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Different Gospel for VBS?

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ." Galatians 1:6-7 (ESV)

Apparently some churches are turning to a different gospel - the "save the environment" gospel. Some even champion this in VBS.

Watch and be astonished and chagrined.

(Thanks C.C.)

Interesting Info on Religion and Science in the USA

To read about some interesting findings about the relationship between religion and science, click here to read info from the Pew Forum.

Below are some of the findings:

A Lesson Learned?

Do you think he learned his own lesson?

"Christian Archy" is in the Mail

Yesterday I ordered my copy of Christian Archy. I just received notice that it has been shipped.

I have been looking forward to this book by Dave Black for some time. His books always challenge me. Quite frankly, they often make me uncomfortable. However, since this is a good place to be as a Christian, I've ordered my copy of this book right away.

The publisher of this book says this about it, "In Christian Archy, Dr. David Alan Black examines the New Testament to find the truly radical and all-encompassing claims of God's kingdom. In doing so, he discovers that the character of this kingdom is widely different from what is commonly contemplated today. Its glory is revealed only through suffering — a point that Jesus' disciples, then and now, have been slow to understand. This truth has tremendous implications for church life. The kingdom of God is in no way imperialistic. It has no political ambitions. It conquers not by force but by love. It is this humble characteristic of the kingdom that is a stumbling block to so many today. Christ's claim to our total allegiance is one we seek to avoid at all costs. But there is only one way to victory and peace, and that way is the way of the Lamb."

Goliath Beats David

Last night Goliath beat David. It is a sad story.

The New York Yankees (Goliath) and their $200 million payroll beat my beloved Philadelphia Phillies (David) in the World Series. The Yankees won four games to two.

The trouble is that the Yankees, like Goliath, represent all that is wrong with our world (I'll admit - this is a bit of an overstatement). The Phillies, meanwhile, are a likable group of players whose payroll is about %50 of New Yorks'.

It is hard to watch evil defeat good - especially when the good team is your favorite team (and has been for 35 years).

At least there is next year. Go Phillies!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happily Ignorant about T.V.

I frequently hear people passionately discussing what is happening on the latest T.V. shows. They talk about the characters, the plot lines, and the relationships. They also try to figure out how they can fit the new shows into their already busy schedules.

I am thrilled to say that I am purposely completely ignorant about what is happening on T.V. Ever since we made the decision last spring to rid ourselves of T.V., we have felt freed from its clutches. We no longer find ourselves feeling like slaves to the scheduling folks at the networks.

Let me be clear: we do own a T.V. However, we have no cable subscription and don't even try to pick anything up through any sort of antennae (can you still even do that?). Instead, we have a number of movies and documentaries that we watch occasionally. We also check out films from the local library. This allows Alice and me to screen everything our kids watch. We no longer find ourselves feverishly diving for the remote control when something unexpected and inappropriate comes on the T.V.

As for the news, we check it out several times per day on the internet. So far we haven't missed out on anything substantial.

There is a saying that is sometimes true: "Ignorance is bliss." That's how we feel.

An additional bonus to all this is that we have more time to read and spend together as a family.

I strongly encourage you to get rid of you T.V. subscription. It may hurt a bit at first as you experience withdrawal, but you will never regret it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just Silly

The Abomination that is the Prosperity Gospel

I couldn't agree more. Thanks, Dr. Piper.

You Have Two Great Options

All followers of Jesus Christ have two great options each day. In fact, we deal with this issue every morning (whether we realize it or not).

We have the option of waking up and serving the Lord for another day. This is a great blessing.

The second option is even better. We don't wake up, but instead die and go to be with Christ. This is an infinitely greater blessing.

Paul makes this very clear in Philippians 1:21 when he writes simply, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (click here to read in context). In Paul's eyes, both life and death are great options. He can go on serving Christ which will mean more "fruitful labor" for him. However, his desire is to be with Jesus, which "is far better."

Paul understood, probably better than we do because we don't face persecution and death on a regular basis, that both life and death are wonderful possibilities. Neither is a negative. Both are only positive.

I'm not sure that we embrace life and death this way. We (I can speak for myself in particular) tend to be too comfortable in our materialism and lax in our service of Christ. We also don't spend enough time pondering the joy that awaits us in heaven with God.

Maybe we don't like to think about these options because we are not the ones in control of whether or not we wake up in the morning. We know that God is sovereign over life and death. He is the one who chooses which option we face today.

However, in light of the fact that God is both all-powerful and all-good, why shouldn't we completely trust Him with whether we live or die for another five minutes?

To put it simply, another day of life is a gift from God to serve Him fully. Death is an even greater gift - for we go directly to be be the perfect Three-in-One in heaven.

I'm thankful for two great options. As I sit here, I'm thankful for another day of life. I look forward to the day when I get to partake of option two and be with Christ.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Great Photos from Kenya

As I have mentioned before, my parents are serving this school year at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. As a bonus for them, the scenery where they are located is beautiful.

The photo to the left clearly shows some of the mountains and valleys near my parents. I have to admit a bit of jealousy since we live where everything is flat.

My parents just recently updated their blog with many new photos from their school and the area surrounding it. I encourage you to take a look. God has truly blessed Kenya with much natural beauty.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Excellent New Ligonier Website

Ligonier Ministries has posted a new website. After looking it over, I find it to be much more helpful than the previous one.

In particular, I like the "Learn" link that offers all sorts of options for reading and listening. The best part of this section (and the entire site) has to be the "Teacher Index." After clicking there, you can select from the writings of over 60 excellent teachers. Several of my personal favorites are included such as Alistair Begg, Jerry Bridges, D. A. Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, Richard Phillips, John Piper, R. C. Sproul, Joni Eareckson Tada, Bruce Ware, David Wells, and Ravi Zacharias.