Saturday, December 24, 2005

Coming Home for Christmas

John tells us in the opening chapter to his gospel that "Jesus came to his own, and his own people did not receive him." Rejection! What a sad thought. Imagine coming home for Christmas and being rejected by your own family, your own countrymen. But John goes on to declare that "But to as many as receive him to them he gave the right to become sons of God." He also states that the eternal Son of God became flesh and blood, just like you and me, and he dwelt among us. The literal meaning of this is that He tabernacled, or pitched His tent among us. He took on flesh and blood, and came to live among us for a time. He came in poverty, humility, vulnerability, and he came with a purpose. In fact, the Godhead had planned this all out before the beginning of time (2 Timothy 1:9). Paul tells us that [He] made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:7 -11) Christmas is all about coming home, all about family. As a Christian don't feel guilty for buying presents, or singing a few secular carols along with the solid, Biblical ones. Gather your family around you and lavish your love and gifts and food on them, just as your Father in heaven lavishes upon you the greatest gift of all, His only begotten Son. Think about all of the settings, the stories and parables in the Bible that contain elements of marriage and the family. Look at the story of the prodigal, where the father receives back his wayward son. Think about Joseph receiving his brothers back into fellowship in Egypt, about Joseph going ahead and making Mary and the little one to come a part of his family. Jesus was born into a family. Jesus gave Lazarus back to his two sisters, and the little girl back to her father, Jairus. The relationship between a husband and a wife is described as just like the relationship between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:25-32). The Church is called the bride of Christ in Revelation 19:7; 21:2; and 21:9. In Luke 5:34, Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom. Make big over family this Christmas to show how God Himself makes a big deal over us and brings us into His family, through Christ Jesus our Lord, and Savior. Just another homeless family Looking for a strangers charity Joseph and Mary weren't necessarily homeless. They were poor, displaced, in a desperate condition with Mary's impending birth, to be sure, but not homeless. When you see a nativity scene, don't automatically think "homeless." Don't turn the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem into a social gospel. Sure, there are great social ills in this world, and Christians should put hands and feet to their faith and be concerned about homelessness, and poverty, and famine; but that is not our great message of hope to the world. The big problem with all of mankind is that we need to come home to God, because we are alienated from Him, hostile to Him, condemned by Him. When you see a depictions of the nativity, think about God providing the means to bring you home, a way for you and me to be reconciled to God, in fact, a way for anyone who will believe on His Son. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God Ephesians 2:19. God sent His son into the world to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:5. This time of year we should remember those who cannot be home for Christmas. Many missionaries are in foriegn lands, spreading this very gospel I have been talking about. They are sacrificing friends and family, home and hearth, for the sake of Christ. Remember to pray for them, that their Lord and ours would be their father and mother, brother and sister. Pray that God would bless their ministry and shine the light of the gospel in many dark places. Last of all, remember our men and women in the armed forces, stationed in foriegn lands, far from home. Pray they will come home safely soon. Pray that the gospel will spread by them where missionaries aren't allowed to go. One of the grains of sand in Galatians 4:4 was that Pax Romana, and the Appian Way, and all of those Roman soldiers who heard and believed the gospel, and then gossiped the gospel from one end of the Roman Empire to the other. Pray that God will do it again, just like that.

Photo Acknowledgements: These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago at our second annual "Yuletide Tulsa", which this year consisted of a four-performance dinner-theater style outreach held at Trinity Baptist Church, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  • Joseph and Mary: Ron and Anna make a perfect Joseph and Mary. They are the only people I know who look just as young now as they did when I first met them 30 years ago. Don't let their looks deceive you, they are about my age.
  • Missionary: Marie, with her husband John, is planning to return to the mission field in Israel sometime in 2006. They served first in Africa, and now in their "retirement" years just keep going back on these one- and two-year assignments. There are many opportunities like these to serve.
  • Soldier: Isaac just returned from Afghanistan a couple of months ago, and is now out of the Marines. He currently works in a machine shop and plans to start college soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mose, who is still in Iraq, away from his wife and little daughter.
  • Choir: Trinity's own Celebration Singers. They are the best. This is not all of them. The full choir is about twice as large.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Emmanuel's Land (The Sands of Time are Sinking)

Better than planting taters and onions, indeed! Notice how Heaven is described, not by what we will do, or think, or say, or feel , or touch, or taste. Heaven is all about Who we will see, "without a veil", and who we will be with. A note of clarification: I have two hymnals that include this hymn, one omits the second verse listed below, the other omits the fifth verse. The midi file that I have attached only enough music for four stanzas. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Words: Anne R. Cousin, 1857 Anne R. Cousin was the wife of William Cousin, pastor of the Free Church of Melrose, Scotland. She contributed many poems and hymns to various periodicals of the day. This hymn is based upon the writings of Samuel Rutherford, 1600-1661 Tune: Rutherford by Edward F. Rimbault, 1867
The sands of time are sinking, The dawn of heaven breaks, The summer morn I've sighed for, The fair sweet morn awakes; Dark, dark, hath been the midnight, But dayspring is at hand, And glory, glory dwelleth In Emmanuel's land. The King there in his beauty Without a veil is seen; It were a well-spent journey Though seven deaths lay between: The Lamb with his fair army Doth on Mount Zion stand, And glory, glory dwelleth In Emmanuel's land. O Christ, he is the fountain, The deep sweet well of love! The streams on earth I've tasted More deep I'll drink above: There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand, And glory, glory dwelleth In Emmanuel's land. The bride eyes not her garment, But her dear bridegroom's face; I will not gaze at glory, But on my King of grace; Not at the crown he gifteth, But on his pierced hand: The Lamb is all the glory Of Emmanuel's land. O I am my Beloved’s And my Beloved is mine! He brings a poor vile sinner Into His house of wine I stand upon His merit - I know no other stand, Not e’en where glory dwelleth In Emmanuel’s land.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice

After the first cold weather, I mean even the faintest hint of cold weather, this is the day I eagerly wait for. I know there is much more sloppy, cold, blustery, yuck-laden days ahead, but just knowing that the days are getting longer is a comfort to me. It won't be long after the hustle and bustle of the "holiday season" and bowl games that I'll be planting taters and onions. Yes sir, after today, as cold as winter may be, the daylight gets just a little bit longer each day. It makes a good analogy for sanctification. Once God saves us out of the coldness and darkness of our selfish little lives, the shortest day has come and gone. Every day that follows may not be perfect, some may be down right terrible. But God is at work in us, both to will and to work His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), and we can be confident that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6). Have you ever noticed how Paul skips over "sanctified" in Romans 8:30; he jumps from "justified" straight to "glorified". With Paul anctification is just a given, and it only has one end result. There is no turning back. We are headed to high summer in Emmanuel's land, and there is no turning back. And what about this Emmanuel's land? I'll bet it will be better than planting taters and onions. That reminds me of an old Tanglewood hymn we use to sing. More about that later.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Well, it's that time again. Over the past week or so I have scraped up quirky quotes from all over the web-log world. I have widened my scope a bit, reading about half again more web logs than in previous weeks. I don't know how I do it. Sometimes I amaze myself. I love posting little snippets like this. You see, I can take bits and pieces out of context with reckless abandon, and it's okay. If you are curious enough to find out the context, there is the link to the whole post, right beside the quote. I guess my enjoyment of this kind of thing comes from all of those years when our middle child would take every figure of speech used in her presence, and literalize it. It would irritate me then, because she would always bring it up at the most trying and serious times. Now with her own little magpie, I just can't wait for her to gain a grasp of the language. Mary, this is for you.
  • Sadly, many preachers like to work in a vacuum Pastor Steve Weaver My, oh my. I would suffocate in a vacuum. This brief post is an apt exhortation to us all, pastor and layman alike, to read the works of the "saints" of generations past. A good little post. I find very little from this young man (and his brother too) that I do not agree with.
  • As far as it goes, it is good that we have an accurate view of ourselves and our own unworthiness. But at the same time, when God gives us this understanding by His grace, we must not cling to that understanding obstinately when He then tells us how much He rejoices in us, delights over us, wants to be with us, and how He has removed every impediment to fellowship. Doug Wilson on the Lord's table. Does anybody else get the impression that Doug Wilson and John Piper are reading from the same page? Looking back, I realize that last week I missed a few days posts of Pastor Wilson. I must go back and catch up. You catch up too.
  • The Episcopal Diocese of Newark, New Jersey is looking for a new bishop to lead them out of spiritual (and physical) decline. Here is a part of their search statement: We encourage nominations of persons of both genders, all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and of all sexual orientations. From Albert Mohler's web log Hmmm, I wonder why they could possibly be in decline.
  • Balaam was a true prophet, but he was not a true man. Pastor Wilson at Blog and Mablog True enough.
  • Family trumps worship in their foolish, faddish, fabricated, fallacious, fatiferous, façade of fanciful, factious, and falchion brand of faith. Sledgehammer at Camponthis No Failing marks here. I give this one an A+, and the post that follows, about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is very good too.
  • . . .it's not what you say, it's what you mean. Matt Gumm at Still Reforming. Uh . . . let's see now, is it just the thought that counts, or should we mean it when we say it? Well, you should read the post to get the thrust of the argument. Good post.
  • I may be struck dead for touching the ark of the covenant here . . . The paleoevangelical No "may" or might to it; just ask Uzzah. Sometimes church budgets can be just as dangerous, though.
  • It is only in more recent days that I came to see that I truly felt my worrying was somehow effectual. challies on Worry. Are you in the middle of something presently that keeps you up nights? Read this.
  • To describe yourself as a post-Protestant in a world still full of millions of regular old Protestants and regular old Roman Catholics is an attempt to wrap your personal thought preferences in the cloak of history -- moreover in the cloak of history that hasn't happened yet. Pastor Doug Wilson tearing up Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy.
  • because cows cannot run very fast, it does not take much to pull the tail of the establishment Doug Wilson, from A Serrated Edge. Pastor Wilson must never have been around livestock. I was never able to pull a cows tail without first penning the beast up. Even then you run the risk of a swift and painful kick. Blog and Mablog runs a little bit of this book just about every day. I have thought about getting the book, but if I wait long enough, I will have read it all there for free.
  • I also told him that if he ever touches my daughter I have no problem at all with going back to prison. Challies reviewing the book 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life by Lauren F. Winner Hey, I have two daughters. I know that feeling.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Mostly-forgotten Hymn of the Season

Words: Paul Gerhardt, 1653 Translated: Catherine Winkworth, 1858 Tune: Warum Solit' Ich Mich Denn Grämen by Johann G. Ebeling, 1666 All my heart this night rejoices As I hear Far and near Sweetest angel voices. "Christ is born," their choirs are singing Till the air Everywhere Now with joy is ringing. Forth today the Conqueror goeth, Who the foe, Sin and woe, Death and hell, o'erthroweth. God is man, man to deliver; His dear Son Now is one With our blood forever. Shall we still dread God's displeasure, Who, to save, Freely gave His most cherished treasure? To redeem us, he hath given His own Son From the throne Of his might in heaven. He becomes the Lamb that taketh Sin away And for aye Full atonement maketh. For our life his own he tenders; And our race, By his grace, Meet for glory renders. Hark! a voice from yonder manger, Soft and sweet, Doth entreat: "Flee from woe and danger, Brethren, from all ills that grieve you You are freed; All you need I will surely give you." Come, then, banish all your sadness, One and all, Great and small; Come with songs of gladness. Love him who with love is glowing; Hail the star, Near and far Light and joy bestowing. Dearest Lord, thee will I cherish. Though my breath Fail in death, Yet I shall not perish, But with thee abide for ever There on high, In that joy Which can vanish never.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sharing Christ

What better gift could you possibly give this Christmas than the Gospel; that's what the messages from these two podcasts are all about. On Wednesday, Dr. John Piper began a short series around presenting the gospel using the most familiar single verse in the Bible, John 3:16. The first message is entitled The Danger: Perishing, part 1. The gospel presentation centers around what Dr. Piper calls the four D's: Danger, Design, Duty, and Destination, all found within the one verse. Dr. Piper is in top form, as usual. Pastor Rod Harris explains that Christmas means nothing apart from the gospel in The Unexpected Gift. This sermon from Genesis 3:15 presents the proto-evangel, or first gospel. Without an adequate understanding of the depths of sin and misery that Adam's posterity is in, no one can adequately appreciate the coming of Messiah. This message was preached at Trinity Baptist Church, in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sunday morning last, December 11. This Christmas, let's give gifts that have everlasting value; tell somebody about the Christ child, and why He came.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Incarnation

God, reduced to a span. Incomprehensibly made man.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Did I Really Say That?

(Or: I didn't say that if I can get the post pulled down before you make a hard copy.)

  • Movements that contradict themselves in flagrant ways cannot, with regard to the long run, rely on nobody noticing. Douglas Wilson on Ten Reasons For Not Taking Postmodernism Seriously
  • I was shocked when the pastor told me, without any remorse, that "if you are really looking to grow as a Christian this isn't the church for you." Challies on Evangelism - The Chief End of Man?
  • At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s nothing wrong with people acting their age. Maturity comes with…maturity. Steve at Triablogue Notice, Steve didn't say it comes with age. It doesn't have to, you know.
  • Being a blogger is like living in a fish bowl. More than that, you can’t see your audience, but your audience can see you. So there’s no predicting the reaction you’re going to get. The feedback comes after the fact, at which point it’s too late to take back your words. Steve at Triablogue A scarry thought, no?
  • A few years ago our family was visiting a church on the first Sunday of December. The pastor stood up and announced, "Tonight, we will have the hanging of the greens." I leaned over to my wife and whispered, "I don't know what the Greens did but it must have been really serious if the punishment is hanging!" Tom at Founder I had a hard time stopping at this brief quote, the whole post was that good. Tom was being uncharacteristicly Wilsonian. Now if we could just get Wilson to be baptistic in return.
  • O.K. Now you can start with the ugly comments. Jeremy at Doxoblogy on limited atonement.
  • For those who eschew definitions and logocentrism, but who still want to know what emergent is. Douglas Wilson. I never cease to be amazed. Even single-sentence posts from this guy sparkle and spurt like an Independence-day celebration.
  • woof, watch out for trucks! You figure out what this means. Hint: This quite is from the very bottom in the comments section, so you need to read the whole post to get the gist. More later on this personal episode in my life. This deserves its own post.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Deciduous Holly

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2,4 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6,7 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 Late November and early December temperatures have been unusually low this year, with overnight lows in the low teens. I know that isn't much for those of you in the north, but it is a big deal if you live in Oklahoma. It is not unusual to get a few nickle and dime lows before winter is over, but the teens usually stay away until after the new year. I usually work nights, and although not continually out in the elements, I do have to spend some extended time out of doors. It gets to be a real drag when you have become comfortably warm up in the cab of your tractor, and then have to plung, all at once, out into the dark and cold. It is about this time every year that I look for signs of the coming spring. I know, winter won't officially begin for another three weeks, but that is just the way I am. I start work early on Fridays, making a short trip to Muskogee and back to Tulsa before my regular run starts. This time of year the sun is still up when I head out, but not for long. This last Friday I noticed that the sun was shining, low and red, across the expressway in front of me from right to left, and it was lighting up the berries of the Deciduous Holly scattered randomly on the edge of the woods to the northeast. I love Deciduous Holly, Ilex decidua, one of the few North-American native hollies. It doesn't hold its leaves through the winter, hence the name deciduous. The old timers call it "Possum Haw", though it is not even closely related to the hawthorns, and I have never seen a possum even near one. When all the leaves drop, millions of pea-sized orange-to-red berries are revealed. The swatches of near-crimson dotted along the easements are not gaudy, but distinct and prominent in an otherwise leafless, fruitless, colorless landscape. The berries are coveted by the song birds later in the dead of winter when all of the grass seeds are beaten down and spent. A flock of Cedar Waxwings is a rare and thrilling sight when they descend to feed upon a tall old clump of Deciduous Holly. Deciduous Holly is a lot like the severe mercies of God. It is not until the winter of adversity comes into your life to strip you bare, that the fruit that God has formed in you is exposed to view, and even usefull to others. Only when your soul has been brought to the brink of dispair, or when you loose that loved one, or when your health leaves you, do you realize what God has been doing in you and through you. It is after the low times that you are most able to meet the needs of the despairing and lost around you. Only then can you reap the benefits of knowing an all-sustaining God. Only then can you say "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Talkative of Pratting-row

The episode before us, which focuses on the character of of one Talkative, is different from any other episode previously encountered so far in this story. We find here, not an account of the trials or conflicts of our main character, Christian. There is no battle to be fought, no obstacle to be overcome. More than anything, this new character, Talkative, is the personification of a lesson to be learned. There are actually two lessons found herein: 1) a personal warning to be true, to be genuine; not to be two-faced; and 2) an exhortation to be discerning, and consequently to be faithful to our fellow man. Christian has just come out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where at the end of that place, he makes the acquaintance of Faithful. After only a short time, they make fast friends. They have so much in common, so many like experiences that firmly bond the two in no time at all. Now enters a third "pilgrim", one Talkative. Throughout this scene there are three men walking, side by side, for as the narrator explains the path at that point is wide enough to do so. Get a mental picture of these three men, with the one in the middle walking close and talking, first to one on the one side, and then to the other on the other, then back to the first, and then back again to the second. It is also interesting to note, looking back over the episode, how Faithful alone engages Talkative. Christian is close at hand, but he hangs back, as it were, to let Faithful get the "full benefit" of the encounter, and Faithful gets an earful, to be sure. I have omitted any passages from this section to save space, but you can read the whole passage at one of the "Bunyan" links on the sidebar to the right. To summarize that encounter, Faithful discovers that Talkative is more than willing to talk about any and all things concerning the Christian faith. Faithful is impressed, and after a time, walks back near to Christian for a brief discussion. At this point, Christian gives him the skinny.
Christian: This man is for any company, and for any talk; as he talks now with you, so will he talk when he is on the ale bench; and the more drink he hath in his crown, the more of these things he hath in his mouth; religion hath, no place in his heart, or house, or conversation; all he hath lieth in his tongue, and his religion is to make a noise therewith. He talks of prayer, of repentance, of faith, and of the new birth; but he knows but only to talk of them. I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad; and I know that what I say of him is the truth. His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savour. There is there neither prayer nor sign of repentance for sin; yea, the brute in his kind serves God far better than he. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him; Men that have any dealings with him, say 'tis better to deal with a Turk than with him: for fairer dealing they shall have at their hands. This TALKATIVE, if it be possible, will go beyond them--defraud, beguile, and overreach them. I am of opinion, that he has by his wicked life caused many to stumble and fall; and will be, if God prevent not, the ruin of many more.
At this point, Faithful returns to Talkative's side. After considerable discourse to discern Talkative's true nature and, speaks the truth in love, and is faithful indeed:
Faithful: I have heard of you, that you are a man whose religion lies in talk; and that your conversation gives this your mouth-profession the lie. They say you are a spot among Christians; and that religion fares the worse for your ungodly conversation; that some already have stumbled at your wicked ways, and that more are in danger of being destroyed thereby. Your religion, and an ale house, and covetousness, and uncleanness, and swearing, and lying, and vain company keeping, etc., will stand together. The proverb is true of you which is said of a whore, to wit, that "she is a shame to all women": so you are a shame to all professors. Talkative: Since you are ready to take up reports, and to judge so rashly as you do, I cannot but conclude you are some peevish or melancholy man, not fit to be discoursed with: and so adieu! Christian: Then came up CHRISTIAN, and said to his brother, "I told you how it would happen: your words and his lusts could not agree; he had rather leave your company than reform his life. But he is gone--as I said: let him go; the loss is no man's but his own. He has saved us the trouble of going from him; for he continuing--as I suppose he will do--as he is, he would have been but a blot in our company; besides, the Apostle says, "From such withdraw thyself." Faithful: But I am glad we had this little discourse with him; it may happen that he will think of it again: however, I have dealt plainly with him, and so am clear of his blood if he perish.
And so the scene ends. In addition to our duties listed above, to examine ourselves regularly to see if we be in Christ, and to be faithful to our fellow man, to be sure he has not believed a false gospel; there are other applications as well. We certainly have a duty to be careful in our own idle conversations. We all will one day give an account for every idle word spoken. In this age of instant communication we also have the warning to be on the lookout for, and as for ourselves, not to be Bloggative of Blogging-row. One of the most quoted passages in the Bible is "Judge not. . .", the world loves it even more that John 3:16. The Christian needs to be reminded of his duty to be discerning. Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Don't Say It If You Don't Mean It.

publishing is warfare. Doug Wilson The pen is mightier than the sword, but more appropriately, I'd much rather go to war with pastor Wilson than against him. He can be my co-belligerent any day. For a worldview is not just something you think. It is something you tell, something with a plot line and characters. It is a set of symbols, the kind that bring a lump to your throat. It is what you think. And your worldview is also sprinkled on your head, and is something you must eat and drink. Doug Wilson If someday he were to become a baptist, I might just up and move to Idaho. I generally try to discourage Christians from trying to develop a better understanding of theology by listening in on heavy-drinking armchair-theologians' dialogues anyway. Phil Johnson Good advice, but then, there wouldn't have been anything fun to read, and write and laugh about for the better part of the last two weeks. Could we do something less poultry-oriented this year? Phil Johnson That's not American, is it? they realize that the “old way” isn’t broke – its just filled with broken people. Jason Roberts at Fide-O Indeed, it is true. We all need to turn to the one unbroken man for mending. Commenting on Phil Johnson's Thanksgiving post: If only the Italians had landed on Plymouth Rock! We wouldn't be eating flappy birds every Thanksgiving... Daniel at Doulogos One thing that Cessationists and Continuationists must agree upon - there are very counterfeit versions of the gifting of tongues. Daniel at Doulogos Let's hope that at least the honest ones do. . . . pay attention in church on Sunday - God will speak to you if you let Him. Daniel at Doulogos We should be far more concerned to see Christ kept in the Church and in professing Christians than we are to see what unbelieving institutions do with a holiday. Tom Ascoll at Founders Blog But quirky is not heretical, which is, I guess, fortunate for me. Doug Wilson From the same post pastor Wilson concludes with this: As an amillennial Lutheran, I understand the need for patience. Don't tease us, please. This week I will be posting a series on what 'Calvinism' is not. . . . You might get thunk and need a ride home. Jeremy Weaver at Doxoblogy There will be a sobriety check as you exit your browser. Seriously, this should be a good set of posts. In fact before I posted this Doxoblogy posted his first installment concerning the radical corruption of man. In case you didn't get it, I dislike the acronym TULIP. Criticism is not hard to come by. Winston Churchill stated, “Criticism is easy; achievement is more difficult.” Jason Janz at SharperIron It would appear to me that if you don't draw at least some criticism once in a while, you aren't running a very good blog. All of the best ones seem to move fluidly from, lets see, what was that word I saw earlier? Oh yes, all of the best ones seem to move fluidly from one imbroglio to another, without even skipping a beat. We had a drama at church today! Pastor Steve Weaver I wonder how many Baptist church's get this kind of a drama on a regular basis. Read this post by pastor Weaver for an excellent accompaniment to any Lord's Supper observance.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Christian Meets Faithful, part 2

Faithful next relates his trip over the hill Difficult, first meeting Adam the first, and then Moses. One tries to enslave him, and the other tries to beat him to death, but in the end one comes to his rescue.

When I came to the foot of the hill called "Difficulty," I met with a very aged man, . . . Then I asked him his name, and where he dwelt? He said his name was Adam the first; and that he dwelt in the town of Deceit. . . He told me that his work was many delights; and his wages, that I should be his heir at last. . . So he told me that his house was maintained with all the dainties in the world; and that his servants were those of his own begetting. . . . He said that he had but three daughters,--the lust of the flesh; the lust of the eyes; and the pride of life; . . . Then it came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said, and however he flattered, when he got me home to his house he would sell me for a slave. As heirs of Adam: We are slaves of sin: Galatians 4:3; We are in bondage: Romans 6:6; We are spiritually dead: Ephesians 2:1-6; his wages: Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death. three daughters: 1 John 2:16 . . . not of the Father, but of the world. sell me for a slave. John 8:34, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 1st Adam/2nd Adam: Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:42-50 . . . so soon as the man overtook me, he was but a word and a blow; for down he knocked me, and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again, I asked him wherefore he served me so? He said, because of my secret inclining to Adam the first; and with that he struck me another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down backward, so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again, I cried him mercy; but he said, "I know not how to show mercy," and with that knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me, but that one came by, and bade him forbear. . . . I did not know him at first; but as he went by, I perceived the holes in his hands and in his side; then I concluded that He was our Lord.
The man beating Christian is later identified as Moses, who represents the law given on Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments which require perfect obedience by the Law Giver. See Galatians 3:10 Christ our savior is the only One who can deliver us from the sin nature we have inherited from our federal head, Adam, and the only One who can fulfill the demands of God's law. The section continues by Faithful relating his encounter with Discontent and then Shame. Yes, I met with one Discontent, who would willingly have persuaded me to go back with him; his reason was, for that the valley was altogether without honour. He told me moreover, that there to go was the way to disobey all my friends, as Pride, Arrogancy, Self-conceit, Worldly-glory, with others; who he knew, as he said, would be very much offended if I made such a fool of myself as to wade through this valley. Contentment: 1 Timothy 6:6; Romans 11:33-36, . . . how unsearchable are his ways . . .The Cross is foolishness to the world: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 And I thought again, this Shame tells me what men are; but tells me nothing what God or the word of God is. And I thought moreover, that at the day of doom we shall not be doomed to death or life according to the blustering spirits of the world; but according to the wisdom and law of the highest. Therefore, thought I, what God says is best, indeed is best; though all the men in the world are against it. Seeing, then, that God prefers his religion; seeing God prefers a tender conscience; seeing they that make themselves fools for the kingdom of heaven are wisest; and that the poor man that loves Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates him-- SHAME, depart! thou art an enemy to my salvation! Think God's thoughts: Romans 12:1,2 Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed . . . 2 Timothy 2:12, . . . if we deny Him . . . (to be continued)

To Cease or Not to Cease: That is the Question

A very fine piece on this topic by Daniel at Doulogos got me started on this topic. As icing on the cake, he also has a great graphic to compliment the post. The issue of tongues and healing is not really all that hard. You separate the wheat from the chaff by "knowing them by their fruits." We have been told in several places in the New Testament that counterfeits would abound. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1) I was looking at 1 Timothy 2 a bit ago, and it struck me, if all of us would make full use of the ordinary means of grace, we would be so equipped for service, and so busy, we wouldn't have time to learn "tie my bowtie, tie my bowtie, tie my bowtie . . .ldiut hhvnv asldyt0 q9wnvn ,jghy pe9nn" I guess the tongues and healing issues seem so obvious (to me) that I don't worry much about them. I can conceive of situations, and have heard stories of missionaries, where those "gifts" advanced the gospel of saving grace, that it is genuine. I can see in those contexts where they build up the body, by saving lost souls into it. After all, what was the purpose of these gifts in the first-century church? What worries me most is the whole issue of prophecy. Take, for instance, 1 Timothy 1:18, where Paul states that someone made some kind of a prophecy concerning Timothy and his calling as a pastor. All we hear about today is prophecies of impending disaster, or the return of our Lord (He even told us no man knows the day or the hour.), or "God told me to tell you to give me some money." Now if someone were to say "God told me that you should become a missionary to Afghanistan." How do you know, or how can you verify that God is really speaking to that individual. I understand the passage above in 1 John about testing the spirits; you have that Berean spirit and index everything with the Scriptures, but still, in this area, not every situation is so easy to discern. Certainly we cannot put God in a box, and say He cannot do this or that. What we can do, under most instances, is tell when some huckster is trying to put God in a jack-in-the-box. All you have to do is look and see who is turning the crank.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

Give Thanks to God for his bountiful blessings this Thanksgiving. Don't just say a "special" prayer over the turkey. Take time this Thanksgiving to meditate on the way you live your life the rest of the year. Think of how you can express your gratitude to God for His constant watchful care over you each and every moment. Think about every breath you take (Psalm 104:29). Ponder where your food comes from (Psalm 104 14,15). Consider your strength and health (Psalm 41:3). Don't forget your mind (Daniel 4:34) and soul (Romans 8:1-39. Are you a grumpy sort? Stop it! Do you complain alot? Why? Turn to God our Savior, and ponder all our blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior on this Thanksgiving holiday.
One way to give thanks is in song. The following hymn by Matthias Claudius (1740-1815) is one we don't sing any more, though I don't know why. I don't know if it was ever among the hymns of the previous editions of the Baptist Hymnal. I learned it many years ago from the Presbyterian Trinity Hymnal. You can hear and sing along using the standard tune "Wir Pflügen,"by Johann A. P. Schulz (1747-1800, that accompanies this hymn (compliments of The Cyber Hymnal). Image compliments

We plough the fields, and scatter The good seed on the land, But it is fed and watered By God's almighty hand; He sends the snow in winter, The warmth to swell the grain, The breezes and the sunshine, And soft refreshing rain.
Refrain All good gifts around us Are sent from heav'n above, Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord For all his love.
He only is the Maker Of all things near and far; He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star; The winds and waves obey him, By him the birds are fed; Much more to us, his children, He gives our daily bread.
We thank thee, then, O Father, For all things bright and good, The seed time and the harvest, Our life, our health, our food: No gifts have we to offer For all thy love imparts, But that which thou desirest, Our humble, thankful hearts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Quotes around the Blogosphere

Doug Wilson: But then there is that other group, those with Calvinist brains and Pelagian hearts, who take credit for their understanding that they can't take credit for anything. Good point. That makes all of a little bit Pelagian then, doesn’t it?
Doug Wilson: But to put it this way is really to invite confusion. So, what has stopped you in the past?
Dr. Albert Mohler: Dr. Rogers was a lion in our midst -- the man God used to serve as leader and voice for a great resurgence of biblical Christianity. He was a man of tremendous gifts, whose booming voice was matched by a gift for words and a powerful delivery. He dominated the pulpit as few men ever have, preaching the Word and calling sinners to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a modern-day "Prince of Preachers" whose personal example served to encourage thousands of others to greater faithfulness in preaching the Word of God. We’ve all got warts, don’t we? At death is not the time to point them out, though. Dr. Mohler is one class act. God bless him.
Dr. Albert Mohler: “Are you Metrospiritual?” The title says it all you must read this one.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christian Meets Faithful, part 1

Feel free to leave comments.
After Christian catches up with Faithful he asks about their old home, the city of Destruction:
Chr. How long did you stay in the city of Destruction before you set out after me on your pilgrimage?
Faith. Till I could stay no longer; for there was great talk presently, after you were gone out, that our city would in short time, with fire from heaven, be burned down to the ground.
Chr. What! did your neighbours talk so?
Faith. Yes; 't was for awhile in everybody's mouth.
Chr. What! and did no more of them but you come out to escape the danger?
Faith. Though there was, as I said, a great talk thereabout, yet I do not think they did firmly believe it.

Today many people do not believe in the wrath of God. This could be for any number of reasons, all connected with either a wrong view of the nature of God, or a wrong view of the corrupt nature of mankind. The Scriptures are replete with references to the wrath of God and the final judgment: Romans 2:5, Ephesians 5:6, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, and Revelation 6:16 are just a few.
Faith. [Pliable] hath, since his going back, been had greatly in derision, and that among all sorts of people: some do mock and despise him, and scarce will any set him on work. He is now seven times worse than if he had never gone out of the city.
Chr. But why should they be so set against him, since they also despise the way that he forsook?
Faith. "Oh," they say, "hang him: he is a turncoat; he was not true to his profession!" I think God has stirred up even his enemies to hiss at him, and make him a proverb, because he hath forsaken the way.

It is interesting how the godless will mock and ridicule Christians, but sometimes they will treat the fresh apostate even worse. See counting the cost of discipleship at Luke 14:27-30.
Tell me now what you have met with in the way as you came; for I know you have met with some things, or else it may be writ for a wonder.
At this point Faithful begins to recount his experiences while on their journey. Here again we find the recurring theme of two brothers sharing experiences, and by so doing, encouraging one another. Faithful begins with his temptation to sexual sin, represented by the woman Wanton, and he describes how he resisted those temptations. Notice how he brings to mind scripture (Proverbs 5:5 and Job 31:1).
Catch part 2 of "Christian Meets Faithful" later this week as Faithful relates his encounter with Adam the First.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Philosopher, the Hedonist, Jonathan Edwards, and the Animals

Podcast Review

Here's the best in Christian audio on the internet for this past week.
  • Renewing Your Mind continues to be at the top of my list when it comes to audio listening. Unfortunately, RYM continues to resist the prevailing direction of the future in online audio, namely podcasting. Right now, the free stuff is available strictly via audio streaming. I would be happy with a monthly subscription fee, just to be able to automatically download the radio broadcasts. In any case, this week on Renewing Your Mind has featured a great series by Dr. Sproul entitled Keeping in Step with the Spirit, which has concentrated on the practical means to growing in grace. To get a feel for the flow of this series here are the individual titles: Playing for keeps, Planning to Grow, and three lectures concerning the Obstacles of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. All very practical stuff. And remember, even though you can't download them as mp3's, you can listen to the streaming audio online for 30 days from their original airing.
  • Desiring God Radio, one of the newer podcasts that I have begun listening to also deals with a practical theme. John Piper began last Thursday on a series dealing with personal evangelism, using a booklet named Quest for Joy, designed after the pattern of the book on Christian hedonism, Desiring God, also by John Piper. Each episode is only 25 minutes long, but there is quite a bit packed in each one of those 25-minute packets.
  • The Spurgeon guyhas thrown us a curve this week by publishing a sermon not by Spurgeon. Yes I know I need to get his name since this is the second time I have cited his podcast. In any event, what came down the pike this week was none other than Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, by Jonathan Edwards. If you have ever heard Max Mclean's version, this is every bit as good, but distinctly different. This is a must get. You will want to keep this classic.
  • Bulldogs and Piggies is the only true podcast on this list. By true, I mean as the term was first intended. This is not a spin off from an already existing radio program. There is no professional studio putting this out. There are no paid audio technicians, no slick announcers, no polished musical-backgrounded intros. There is just me introducing the sermons of my pastor preaching at my church. We are in 2 Timothy on Sunday mornings, and we are going through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 on Wednesday evenings. We just finished a four-plus year journey through the Psalms last Sunday evening, and I am not sure where Pastor Harris is going next on Sunday evenings. You will just have to "tune in" to find out.
There you have it; four fine picks. Go back and catch what you missed this last week or so, and subscribe to them so you don't miss another exciting episode.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Topic: The Pilgrim's Progress

For some months now in the high-school Sunday-school young men's class I teach, we have been reading through and discussing The Pilgrim's Progress. When I began this venture (My wife is doing the same with the young ladies' class.) I wasn't sure how it would go. To my amazement, men and ladies alike took right to it. We all take turns reading, taking parts where the passages need that, and then discussing what we have read. They enjoy taking on the parts, and entering into the story. They are extremely attentive when you point out to them "This is your life as a Christian. This is your walk, your story."
The following represents the last two weeks of class discussion. Later this week I plan to post this upcoming Sunday's lesson, with subsequent lessons coming earlier each following week. If you are familiar with Pilgrim's Progress or would like to read along, please feel free to leave comments or suggestions.

Now at the end of this valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it.
1. One valley followed another. Isn't that just the way it is for the believer here on earth. In this life, peace and security doesn't last long. More often than not one trouble follows on the heels of another. Pastor Rod has said many times, "The Christian life is one of either just coming out of trouble, getting ready to experience trouble, or being right in the middle of trouble." The comforting truth as we will see later in this section is that God is going through this valley with us. He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).
2. Note that the valley is described as only the shadow of death. Often times what we see does not take into account the mighty hand of God. The dangers are real, to be sure. The smell of death is all around. But for the child of God it is only the shadow of death. Christ has won for us on the cross, victory over death and hell (1 Corinthians 15:57).
3. It is necessary for Christian to pass through this valley, because the way to the Celestial City passed through that valley. Even though we are the children of God, we must still pass through this valley. We still live in a fallen world. We still have the "old man" about us that we must put to death. The world, the flesh, and the devil still plague us.
4. At the beginning of this valley, Christian meets two men going back. Just as we have seen before in this story, here again is the picture of some who forsake the journey to the Celestial city. It is this way too, in our Christian journey that we will encounter men who have forsaken the Christian walk. (1 John 2:19) The parable of the sower also comes to mind (Matthew 13:3ff). Not all of the seed that came up survived. So too, not every professor is a possessor.
5. Notice also the report of the men when Christian ask them what they saw. Their first response is "pitch dark", and then they proceed to describe all they have "seen". If it were pitch dark, then they are only describing what their imaginations have seen. Though they be fearful accounts, Christian is not put off. He has set his eye on the goal, and he will press on.
I saw then in my dream, so far as this valley reached, there was on the right hand a very deep ditch; that ditch is it into which the blind have led the blind in all ages, and have both there miserably perished. Again; behold, on the left hand there was very dangerous quagmire, into which, if even a good man falls, he can find no bottom of his foot to stand on. Into that quag King David once did fall; and had no doubt therein been smothered, had not he that is able plucked him out.

1. The ditch on one side represents legalism. The blind have led the blind is a reference to Matthew 15:14, where Jesus speaks of the Pharisees, and their dead legalism, leading the nation of Israel into this same ditch.
2. The quagmire on the other side of the path represents the opposite extreme: lawlessness.
3. The section that follows further describes the narrowness and difficulty of the path that lies between these two ditches, and how hard it is not to swerve into one ditch while trying to avoid the other.
When Christian had traveled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of a man, as going before him, saying, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me" (Psalm 23). Then was he glad; and that for these reasons: First, because he gathered from thence that some who feared God were in this valley as well as himself. Secondly, for that he perceived God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state; and why not with me, thought he, though, by reason of the impediment that attends this place, I cannot perceive it? Thirdly, for that he hoped (could he overtake them) to have company by and by.
So he went on, and called to him that was before; but he
(the man he was calling) knew not what to answer, for that he also thought himself to be alone.
Christian's reasons for gladness are the same reasons for our gladness. Just at this point, day breaks and the way becomes even more treacherous. This all bears to the point that God is with us in this journey, giving us light when we most need it, preventing us from slipping and falling down to utter destruction, and giving us each other to comfort and aid one another in this pilgrimage, as we will see in the next section. (To be continued)

Adrian Roger's Homegoing

Dr. Adrian Rogers, went to be with the Lord yesterday. I made a passing comment about him on this weblog last Thursday, totally unaware of his illness. The remark was in reference to the voice of a man who has been recording Spurgeon sermons and making them available on the internet as podcasts. Here is my remark from that post:
"The guy that produces it lives somewhere in Texas, and he does a great job, even if he doesn't sound quite British enough. At least he doesn't sound like Adrian Rogers."
In using Dr. Rogers as my example, I did not mean anything disrespectful. His name just happened to be the first well-known southern preacher that came to mind. I know that a Tennessee drawl is not the same as a Texas drawl, but you get the idea. I read about Dr. Roger's passing at numerous sites yesterday, but a tribute by Dr. Albert Mohler on his weblog was by far the best. One comment in particular jumped out at me. It seemed to have been placed there just for me concerning my British-accent pun. Among many kind words and high praises, Dr. Mohler said:
He was a modern-day "Prince of Preachers"

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Liar, liar . . .

. . . momma'l set your pants on fire.
Well, I was going to write on a serious subject, but something came up. My pastor called me yesterday afternoon about 4:30. To get the story straight let's go back to Sunday night.
Pastor Rod and I talked Sunday night after church. Here's pretty much how it went:

The Plowman's Regress, Book 1

He starts off, "I got two new tires put on the van yesterday. I'm going to the (Oklahoma) state convention tomorrow and Tuesday."
"Oh?", I say.
"Yes, Jerry Falwell and John McArthur are going to be there, one speaking on one day and the other speaking the next.", he continues.
"Oh." I repeat, trying to not sound jealous. "And no one else from our church is going with you as a delegate?"
"That's right. Just me. I'm heading out in the morning. Isn't that quite a mix for speakers?"
"Oh, uhuh, sure." I reply.
So by this time I'm looking for something to get the ball back in my court. "Did you see me cited over on the blogroll at Pyromaniac last week?"
"No, I wasn't following his blog last week."
"Oh." (disappointed)
"What did he say?"
"Nothing much." (defeated) "He just mentioned that at my blog I commented on his audio lecture about Calvinism; that I liked it too, or something like that."
"Really? Wow"
So I finally hit pay dirt. I should have let it go at that, but nooo-ooo. I press on for more glory. "Yep, there's no telling what he's going to do when he catches wind of my series of posts on Thursday and Friday. I mockingly accuse him of stealing my material with his two podcast posts."

At that point the talk turned to other issues more serious. After a good discussion on a variety of issues, my wife and I decided to go home. I don't think any more about it until 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

The Plowman's Regress, Book 2

"Hello, P. W., is that you?"
"Hello, Pastor. What's up? Where are you?"
"Here in Oklahoma City. I just got out of the afternoon session."
"Oh. How's it going?"
"Great. We just got through hearing McArthur speak, and you'll never guess who else is here."
"No! Not . . ."
"Yes! Phil Johnson is here too."
"No!" (disbelief)
"Yes, and he tells your story from last night the other way around. He says you stole his material."
"No! He didn't." (pause) "Did he?"
(pause) "No. I haven't gotten a chance to speak to him. But he's here. He's going to speak over at Alan Connor's church tomorrow evening. Some pastor's conference, or something."
"Man!" (green)
"Yeah, I'm going to catch up with him after the session tonight and we'll work on a good story to write about you and all of this blog stealing."
"No! Don't you dare!"
"Talk to you later. Bye." (click)

Okay, so now I get to live in mortal fear, for how long, who knows. The buggar, up there alone with no one to confirm or deny, to keep him reined in. How can I know where the truth ends and the fibbing begins. Only time will tell. Only this one thing. Pastor, if you read this, don't make me come over there and get you. This could get ugly. You might want to check the podcasts for next week. You just might have one of those funny little chipmunk voices preaching a five-minute sermon. Who knows?
And to think, I was going to write something serious today. Maybe tomorrow, God willing, and the fire engine doesn't pull up to my house later today.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day, 2005

In years past I have not given much thought to Veterans Day. I graduated from high school only a few months after the Vietnam-era draft was deactivated. I never served. My dad was too young for the Korean conflict, and too old for Vietnam. None of my grandfathers served in the military either. My father-in-law was in the Air Force, serving in the SAC all over the world, but I didn't know about that until after my wife and I were married. I never had a reference point, you see; no concrete example of someone close who served and sacrificed. Until now. My son just last month returned from Afghanistan, and just two weeks ago returned to Oklahoma, a citizen. He has come back thinner, more sober, more focused, more a man. He has not said much about his time in Afghanistan. One time he told me over the phone from Afghanistan "Let me put it this way; I've had opportunity to fire my weapon." That's all he said. On another occasion, just last week, he noticed the desk-top photo on my laptop. He had given me a 512K thumb drive and there was one photo still on it. He even told me so. It was a rugged yet beautiful picture of a high-altitude valley somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistan border. You could see a small rock-built village in the background; almost around the bend. When he saw it he said "What are you doing with that on your desk-top? Take that off of there. That's a bad place." So I replaced it with a dusky sunset landscape of some place near Jalalabad. I think that is how he wants to remember it, as a sunset, a closed chapter in his past. This Veteran's Day has been different for me. I have a greater sense of what sacrifice means. Now I know personally that people's lives are put on hold, changed forever, and yes, ended prematurely, for the sake of freedom. Moms and dads wait anxiously for good news, scanning the news, pouring over the maps, praying. You can think what you want about this "war". It matters not to me what you think. This is not a political blog, and I am not going to debate that issue here; If you know a veteran, thank him for the sacrifice. If you don't know a veteran, get to know one, and then thank him. Thank him for your freedom of speech. Thank him for your freedom to associate freely, to bear arms, to vote. Thank him for your freedom to worship, or not worship as you see fit. Then thank God for courageous young men.
"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. 'He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,' is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. The paradox is the whole principle of courage, even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity and I certainly have not done so, but Christianity has done more. It has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living, and him who dies for the sake of dying, and it has held up ever since, above the European lances, the banner of the mystery of chivalry, the Christian courage, which is a disdain of death." G. K. Chesterton Orthodoxy, quoted by Rush Limbaugh on November 11, 2005
Thank you, Isaac. We love you, Dad and Mom

Phil Johnson rubs my nose in it two days straight!

And he didn't even know he was doing it. That is how the great and influential are. And even when he is sick, he is still amazingly good. For the second day, Phil Johnson is talking about his iPod. To understand the significance of all of this, read my post from yesterday. On another note, In this same post Phil said "How did Protestants ever get from Bach to the insipid stuff we call "worship choruses" today?". To that I say "The very truth. Preach it, brother." I hope he spends some time in the very near future on that very subject. I was listening to R. C. this week and last, in which he was giving a 10-part lecture on the Reformation sola's. Yesterday was part one of Soli Deo Gloria, and reading Phil's comments about the greatness of Bach's contatas reminded me of the stories I've heard that Bach would write SDG at the top of all of his manuscripts as a witness to the Author of all of his talents. btw: The top photo was not taken while I was driving. The one below, on the other hand. . . (The tach is on the left, and the speedometer is on the right. sdg) Example

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Piper Says "We will become gods!"

Topic: Podcast Roundup

Man, I just now had to add this beginning paragraph after writing all you see below it. I just now took a break to see what the The PyroManiac was talking about, and, lo and behold, he was talking about podcasting, the very topic I was working on! He had just bought an iPod! He was talking about Piper's biographical sketches that I mention in the paragraph below! I know that this looks like I'm just copying his lead, and even though his post was from yesterday, I didn't read it until early this morning. Let me explain further. I work nights, driving an 18-wheeler for a company who's slogan is "What can [a certain color] do for you?", and just before I leave for work every night, I "tab" up the browser on my laptop and read the blogs on my down time and breaks throughout the night. The only problem with last night (early this morning) was that I listened to the third Athanasius piece first and got the idea for this post (or at least the part below), and I never got around to reading my blogs, until just a moment ago. Well, Phil, if you read this, I hope you enjoy your iPod. I certainly do mine. Oh, and since you've got one now, go subscribe to my podcast (see my shameless plug below, which WAS there before I realized all this).
This sure has been an exciting week as regards portable audio. I discovered several new podcasts this week, and boy, have they been doozies! My tried-and-true workhorses have been quite remarkable also. Now, before I get to the dirt on Piper, let me just say, if you are commuting any distance at all and still listening to your car stereo, then there is something seriously wrong with you. There is a ton of free audio out there just a mouse click away. If you don't already have an mp3 player then save up your nickels and get one. The podcast, which is to audio what an rss feed is to blogging, makes it perfectly effortless. Hey, Phil Johnson, I even found a podcast that features the sermons of Spurgeon. The guy that produces it lives somewhere in Texas, and he does a great job, even if he doesn't sound quite British enough. At least he doesn't sound like Adrian Rogers. Now on to Piper. I discovered that John Piper's relatively new radio program is now available via podcast. I started listening late last week. This week, and part of last week, the episodes have centered around Christian biography, starting with three sessions on the life of John Owen, and finishing up yesterday a three parter on the life of Athanasius. Yesterday is where John let slip with the deification-of-believers thing. Now before you load up the firewood for the bar-b-que at Bethlehem, he was only quoting a statement by Athanasius. "The son was made man that we might be made god." I have to add, though, Piper came to Athanasius' defense with this statement:
"So quickly we write off a person, because they say something with categories we don't use. . .What is he saying!. . . . Then you find 2 Peter 1:4 that says that you may become partakers of the divine nature. Anybody want to call Peter a heretic?"
Well, that is just a taste of what you will find in these podcasts by Piper. He does go on to explain everything satisfactorily, but it is a good read, er, listen. Don't start with yesterday's episode. Go back and manually get all six of them, three on Owen and three on Athanasius. You will be glad you did. If there are any of you out there who have enjoyed the dry serrated whit of St. Anne's Public House, they have just recently made podcasting possible at their site. Yes, I know, Doug Wilson is over there alot, but remember the quote I just cited from Piper. Okay?! GraceLife, where Phil Johnson's lecture on Calvinism was posted last week, is now a podcast as well, though there is still only that one lecture available. I'm sure more will come soon. Careful, this link is a subscription link to the podcast, not an actual link to GraceLife's web site, so it is a copy-and-paste link only. Dr. Mohler's radio show continues to be one of my favorites. The audio pretty much covers the content of Dr. Mohler's blog, but the audio version often includes noted guests as well. Yesterday Dr. Mohler commented on the burning of Paris, and had as his guest Victor Davis Hansen. As usual, Dr. Mohler gave excellent analysis from a Christian perspective. And I must make a shameless plug for my own podcast, Bulldogs and Piggies. Three sermons each and every week, whether you like it or not. Sunday mornings we just began 2 Timothy. In the evening worship, we are wrapping up a two-plus-year journey through the Psalms. Last evening (Wednesdays), after a delicious meal, we listened together to the sixth in a series on what it means to be Baptist, by studying the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. You may ask "Why is it called Bulldogs and Piggies?" Go to the website, download a few messages, and find out for yourself.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Editor's preface: This post is actually a comment of response to a post on another blog site. To get the full context of the exchange, you need to go over there also. This whole block of text is a link to that site. Thank you, brother, for the invitation to respond to your recent posts in this way. I especially appreciate the spirit in which it was given. You admit in more than one place that you are clearly swimming upstream. By your own admission, no one, or virtually no one has held the view that Jesus' words on the cross "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" were not (I think you used these words) a statement of doubt and defeat, but rather "a praise song of faith in God in the midst of suffering." Do you realize in this position you also are implying that none of all those who hold the contrary position ever saw the danger you expressed, of people denying the penal substitution of Christ's death on the cross? Using the analogy of Scripture, one would immediately point someone with such a conclusion to those more plain passages such as Galatians 3:13, 2 Corinthians 5:21, or Romans 3:21-26. These plain passages would clearly eliminate any false assumptions made concerning the meaning of our Lord's statement in Matthew 27:46. You base your exegetical argument almost entirely on the "context" of Psalm 22, which is the source text of Jesus' statement. I see two problems with this: 1) Jesus doesn't quote the whole psalm, just the first phrase. If He wanted to express the thought you claim why didn't he either quote the whole psalm, or pick the latter phrases of obvious praise and victory you claim he meant, or even pick the opening thought of another psalm like Psalm 73, that expresses a more positive thought? 2) Your interpretation of "context" violates the Literal principle of interpreting Scripture, namely, that Scripture is to be treated as literature. Even though it is God's word, inspired, infallible, inerrant, etc.; poetry is still poetry, and historical narrative is still historical narrative, and each and all types of literature within Scripture is to be handled accordingly. There is nothing magical about the Bible; nouns, verbs, and prepositions still function like they do in the secular world. Psalm 22, like many of the early psalms, is an expression of the psalmist's "journey" to find God's goodness. Often times such psalms begin with honest questions: "Where are you?", "Why am I suffering?", "What purpose does this have in my life?", "How long must I suffer?" One exception to the rule is Psalm 73, where the psalmist begins with the conclusion of God's goodness, and then moves on to the "journey" of how he came to that conclusion. So the bigger "context" is that this is poetry, not a doctrinal statement. Jesus uses only the first statement, because that is where He is just at that moment. As I have said before, sure, Jesus knew that he must suffer and die, and be raised the third day. He told His disciples as much. That does not prove that He knew the depth of the abyss that He was being plunged into at that moment. As I have also stated elsewhere, this does not have to be a declaration of doubt and defeat, it is, at the very least, a statement of surprise. Jesus did not know everything. Expressed this Himself. To deny this is to deny a critical aspect of His human nature. Concerning "context", you are eager to press the issue about the "context" of the whole of Psalm 22, which Jesus does not quote, while ignoring the "context" of the passage of the narrative and events surrounding Jesus' words on the cross. First of all, there were other words spoken by Jesus on the cross. Most notably, our Lord's last words were "It is finished.", meaning "It is accomplished." Now there is a statement that signifies the beginning of victory. There is also the "context" of the narrative surrounding Jesus' words. What about "there was darkness over the land", or "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice", or "And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit."? What about the observations of the people hearing Jesus speak. It doesn't appear that anyone is aware that Jesus is quoting Psalm 22. The only record is of some bystanders thinking He is calling for Elijah. Matthew is especially good to point out elsewhere that scripture is being fulfilled or quoted. He says nothing about that here, nor makes note of any one saying anything noteworthy about this statement from our Lord on the cross. This "context" clearly points to a different conclusion than you come to. Last of all, in your argument you set up a straw man by 1) equivocating the phrase "turn His back", and by 2) creating a cartoon of the opposing position. 1) You are defining a phrase literally that is clearly a figure of speech known as an anthropomorphism: using human qualities to describe an activity or character trait of God (There's theLiteral principle at work again.). When someone says "God turned His back on His Son." we all know this is not referring to the inclination of God's gaze, but rather the disposition of His favor. It is expressing something indescribable concerning something relating to the way the Father is dealing with the Son. As I have said somewhere before, Hell will be every bit as much the ever present wrathful gaze of God, as it will be the chilling absence of any of His goodness. Who knows the relationship that existed at that moment in time between God the Father, and the two natures of God the Son. Did the divine nature, as well as the human nature of God the Son enter into the reception of the wrath of God the Father? I think so, but how, I don't know. One thing I know, that wrath wasn't somehow Koom-Ba-Ya. 2) I don't know any serious conservative evangelical who believes that God turned His back on His Son in some ultimate sense, or that the persons of the Trinity were somehow divided. That is unthinkable. Combined with the point just above, you have created a straw man that is easy to knock down, because it doesn't exist. In conclusion, I find it a stretch to accept your argument, or even see the need for the position you have formulated, principally on the basis of your misuse of the whole idea of "context." I don't see the need simply because I can think of no one who holds the errors you erroneously claim a classical position leads to. I certainly don't believe the classical position leads to a denial of penal substitution.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Sidebar Guide

Herein lies a guide to the metaphors used as sidebar headers in this blog. I don't want to insult anyone's intellegence, but if you haven't guessed the theme, it is Agriculture of the Bible. The opening scripture reference of Amos 9:13 has to do with future blessings for God's chosen people. The study notes from the Geneva Bible on this passage explain that this passage is "Signifying, that there will be great abundance of all things, so that when one type of fruit is ripe, another would follow, and every one in order." In other words, the plowman will have to wait on the reapers to break ground for the next season, because the harvest is so abundant. Some believe that this is a picture of the physical future blessings of the nation of Israel. I believe what we see here is a beautiful picture of the bountiful blessings to be found among the "Israel" of God here and now, but especially later, in the new heavens and the new earth. Enough of that; now on to the meaning of the headers: The Threshing Floor: His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. Luke 3:17. The threshing floor is where the laborious task of separating the wheat from the chaff takes place. It is a sweaty, dirty place of hard labor, where a difficult yet needful and rewarding task is acomplished. The items under this heading are all study aids and are dedicated to the high school Sunday school class that my wife and I teach at Trinity Baptist Church, Tulsa. If they happen to be helpful to you, feel free to use them, with our blessings and joy. New Wine: And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. Luke 5:37,38. This is easy enough. Here is where the newest posts will be found. There is no statement inplied here concerning alcohol, although I could make one if you like. The Storehouse: Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! Luke 12:24. This is where all of the previous month's posts are stored, otherwise known as Archives. Apples of Gold: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11. These are just some of the best Christian blogs that I have found. Believe me, there are many more good ones, these are just the ones that I frequent. You will find that some are funny, some are serious, and all of them will make you think. Waterless Clouds: These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; Jude 12. Every farmer needs rain, in its proper season, and there is nothing more discouraging and damaging than for clouds to well up on the horizon, only to pass with a flurry of wind but no rain. There are many out there on the internet who are nothing but waterless clouds, or wind bags. I don't list many of these, because they are a waste of time. Any time I stumble across one, I will post it here. Right now I have only one posted, one that is most harmful. If you believe in sovereign grace, you will see why. Locusts and Wild Honey: Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. Mark 1:6. Okay, who ate locusts and wild honey? John, right? And what was he? A Baptist, right. Okay, just kidding. This header is dedicated to Baptists and Baptist history. Incline Your Ears: Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! Psalms 78:1. To incline your ears means to orient the opening of your ears towards the speaker. This is something that humans cannot physically do without turning their whole head in the process, and that, only one ear at a time. This is an idiom, who knows how old, that comes right off of the farm. Horses and cattle have the ability to physically rotate their ears forward or backward in the direction of sound without moving their head. Even your little pooch can do this, though not quite as dramatically. The links found under this heading are audio links, downloadable, and podcastable. Pruning Hooks: He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Isaiah 2:4. This header lists various resources, such as Bibles, commentaries, Baptist confessions of faith, links to disaster relief, etc. I hope that this blog is helpful. If you have comments, please feel free to post them, or email me directly. In it all, may God be glorified and magnified. This post was last updated on January 3, 2006.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (

Friday, November 04, 2005

Under Construction

Please be patient. I am still tweaking the template. I need to transfer all of the links over from the other blog/podcast. Lots to do.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Reformation Day

There are plenty of excellent resources on the internet this week to celebrate Reformation day, which was Monday, October 31. Here is what I have been listening to and reading the past couple of days. Check them all out. they're all good. R. C. Sproul started an audio series this week that dovetails nicely with Reformation day called God Alone. I have listened to the first two, and R. C. is following an outline based on the five soli. Remember, they're free to listen online for thirty days. The Whitehorse Inn's weekly audio program asks the question Is the Reformation Over. Michael Horton interviews Dr. Mark Knoll, and then the regular cast toss Dr. Knoll's comments among themselves. Dr. Albert Mohler had Tom Nettles on as a special guest on the The Albert Mohler Radio Program, and they discussed the Reformation in geneal, and the five soli and Martin Luther in particular. Although not strictly on the topic of the Reformation, Phil Johnson has posted a link to the audio of a 50-minute survey of the history of Calvinist opinion that he gave to a group of college students last week. Phil's presentation was clear, concise, and compelling. Enough for audio. The written material was plentiful as well. Reformation day was mentioned briefly by Jason Roberrts over at Fide-O Tom Ascoll has been reviewing Tom Nettle's new book on reformatin at hisFounders Blog. There's also an interesting post there announcing a debate between Drs. Albert Mohler and Paige Patterson on the subject of Calvinism. Daniel over at Doulogos has a nice old line drawing of Luther nailing up his 95 theses, accompanied by a brief piece on history of the printing press. I'm sure there were a brazillian more out there, but these were the ones I stumbled across. Let's not think about reformation just one day of the year, but every day.