Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pimp My Devotional Time

I loved this title from Chris Freeland's post, so I decided to keep it. Chris makes a suggestion similar to the one I made (see #3), about reading the same book of the Bible for a month at a time. Only his suggestion includes the Old Testament.

Read his post. But more than that, accept his challenge. Do something to make your time with God this month come alive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Simply Gruesome

Fifty babies a year are alive after abortion - Sunday Times - Times Online: "A GOVERNMENT agency is launching an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched National Health Service abortions.

The investigation, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), comes amid growing unease among clinicians over a legal ambiguity that could see them being charged with infanticide.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which regulates methods of abortion, has also mounted its own investigation.

Its guidelines say that babies aborted after more than 21 weeks and six days of gestation should have their hearts stopped by an injection of potassium chloride before being delivered. In practice, few doctors are willing or able to perform the delicate procedure.

For the abortion of younger foetuses, labour is induced by drugs in the expectation that the infant will not survive the birth process. Guidelines say that doctors should ensure that the drugs they use prevent such babies being alive at birth."

Click on the link to read the rest of the article. HT: World Magazine

Seven Sevens

Frank tagged me, so I'm playing.

Seven things to do before I die:

1. Visit the UK
2. Attend a Shepherd's Conference
3. Learn to read Greek
4. Lead my children to Christ
5. Read & speak español with moderate elocuencia (fluency)
6. Publish a book
7. Preach a sermon
Un mas: Learn to play guitar.

Seven things I cannot do:

1. Dance
2. Listen to country music for any length of time
3. Listen to rap music for any length of time
4. Stand the cold weather
5. Quit blogging
6. Stop playing Sudoku
7. Stop drinking Coke.

Seven things that attract me to my spouse:

1. Her love for Christ
2. Her beauty (not just her outward attractiveness, but inward beauty)
3. Her compassion
4. Her intelligence
5. Her understanding
6. Her love for me
7. Her love for our family

Seven things I say most often:

1. I'm doing alright
2. Well...; Actually...; Well, actually...;
3. NICE!
4. Hey [dude] (pronounced same as Frank's "dude")
5. [Honey,] Have you seen my...?
6. The bottom line is...
7. Um (particularly when praying, apparently--more to come on this in a future post).
[P.S. If you're ever having trouble focusing during a sermon, try doing this for your pastor. Talk about fun...]

Seven books (or series) I love:

1. Sherlock Holmes
3. C.S. Lewis-Narnia series + Screwtape Letters
4. On Writing--Stephen King
5. William Tyndale's New Testament
6. Winnie-the-Pooh
7. Money Angles-Andrew Tobias Sorry Andrew. Now that I'm home, in front of my bookcase, I decided to go with something better. Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp.

Seven movies I would watch over and over again:

1. Original Star Wars Trilogy--the original versions (before Lucas started messing with them)
2. Batman
3. Blade Runner
4. Any Sherlock Holmes w/Basil Rathbone
5. Finding Forester
6. Any of the Star Trek movies that have Shatner, esp III & VI.
7. Indiana Jones-Raiders & Last Crusade

[In this category, I must also add Pride & Prejudice--A&E miniseries (w/my wife), and every Veggie Tales Movie (except maybe Esther). BTW--Until I moved to Arkansas, Twister would have been on this list. Not anymore--too true-to-life!]

Bonus/Alternate (for any who don't watch movies over & over)
Seven music albums/artists/box sets I listen to over and over again:

1. Petra-the Volz years (especially Not of This World)
2. Jars of Clay debut album
3. Sonic Flood-Cry Holy
4. Poulenc's sacred stuff
5. U2-Anything before Rattle & Hum
6. 80's greatest hits & pop album compiliations
7. Yanni (yes, Yanni)
[You may also reference my upcoming Christmas Music post for more in this category]

Seven people I want to join in, too:

1. Hemsch
2. Julie
3. Kerry Gilliard
4. Doudy
5. Damon
6. Pixley
7. William

Funny How History Repeats Itself

While doing some research for my brouhaha post (& also searching for the official definition of "Truly Reformed"), I came across a post that was eerily reminiscent of the current situation. By "eerily reminiscent," I mean that it was in many ways similar, as opposed to exactly the same, lest someone might misinterpret.

The topic of the post was this comic book cover. I will let the quotes speak for themselves (but the emphasis is mine).
What makes the parody funny is that it captures so succinctly the histrionics the BHT crowd indulges in whenever anyone questions either their reasoning,the appropriateness of their comments, or their motives.

It is amazing to watch when the BHT crowd has a disagreement with someone. All too often, those with whom they disagree are perceived as--believe it or not--out to destroy them on a personal level.

Eventually, I just quit reading their blog because of--to use Phil's phrase--their repeated "hissy fits." I mean, why bother? But I nearly snorted coffee into my sinuses when I saw Phil's parody; it captured, with a few pithy phrases and artwork, the whole atmosphere of the BHT. It was perfect, absolutely dead-on, and should have drawn their attention to their frequently insular and paranoid behavior, but instead, perhaps predictably, they have held true to form.

As I've said, the parody is funny because of its accuracy, and I don't disparage the usefulness of satire. My only real reservation in the whole business has to do with why Phil reads the thing (the BHT) in the first place. After all, time is precious, and I don't understand why he would bother with them at all. It's not like they're going to listen to him, and he's certainly not interested in much they have to say.
Excerpted from here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Theology Really Is Important

There seems to be a push among many in modern evangelicalism to shun theology for more practical issues. The idea behind this, at least in some cases, is that theology tends to be divisive. For at least some of the participants in the current raging debate, this seems to be the underlying assumption. Doctrine isn't really all that important, and wrong doctrine is no big deal.

One comment I saw recently that I think epitomizes this type of thinking was this: And if I remember correctly the fruit of the Spirit didn't include "doctrine", but actually Paul exhorts us to "not become boastful, CHALLENGING one another...".

But this statement is somewhat naive, and based on a false assumption. The assumption is that spending time thinking about and discussing doctrine is a distraction from the real part of the Christian life. The problem with this is that theology really does drive methodology. Belief always informs practice, whether you are conscious of it or not.

Some examples may be helpful.

A Sunday School teacher believed in man's completely autonomous free will. He was asked the question about why we pray for the lost, if God can't really change their mind about anything. After thinking about it, he said, "Your right," and from then on he would not take any prayer requests for lost people. (I got this example from Phil Johnson's message on the History of Calvinism. If you haven't listened to it, I highly recommend it.)

What For example, you might think that the main problem today is the schools, and if people were just more educated, then that would solve many of the world's problems. Did you know that this testifies about your view of man, and about his sinfulness?

Or take apologetics & evangelism. What if you think that man's sinfulness doesn't extend to his ability to reason? If you believe that, a part of your methodology might be to reason with him, to educate him, and help him see the error of his ways. But if you believe that the Bible teaches that man's sinfulness is pervasive, to the point that it affects his ability to reason, you might eschew reason and proofs and choose a different method. This, by the way, is the heart of the different approaches to apologetics, presuppositional vs. evidential apologetics.

Here's how I see this applying to the present discussion. When someone, whether it be Michael Spencer or Doug Wilson, says that he considers Catholics his brothers in the faith, that affects his relations with them. If he is right, there is no need to evangelize them; at most, perhaps some work to reform their institutions. But if he is incorrect, then he (and anyone else who believes this) are neglecting sinners who need to hear the Gospel and be saved. They are incorrect, and it's for that reason that people need to stand up for true doctrine & good theology.

Does our theology need to be perfect to be saved? No, and thank God, because if it did, no one would be saved. In fact, all of us will be saved apart from perfect doctrine and theology. But that is no reason to ignore theology altogether, or to say it is unimportant.

So here it is. Poor theology leads to poor practice, while good doctrine should lead to good practice. This is why thinking about doctrine and theology are important--you should know what you believe because it affects what you do.

Remember that for the next time that someone says "theology & doctrine don't really matter, we just need to be Christians and love"--they also have beliefs that are driving what they do, whether they are conscious of those beliefs or not.

Friday, November 25, 2005

"If JIBBS is Hadji, Gumm must be Bandit"

I've been named "sidekick in training" by Centuri0n. Apparently JIBBS' last remark snark was too much, and he's been put on injured reserve.

I'm due to report to the Northwest Arkansas HQ of the TR on December 9-10 for Sidekick Basic Training. I haven't been told exactly what it entails, but I imagine it will involve Photoshop, Advanced HTML, T-shirt sales, and comics.

For the next two weeks, I'll be spending the majority of my time studying the super-secret TR manual.

Once I graduate, I'll be initiated into the Order of the Sixth Sola.

I am a bit nervous, though, since after the Batman's first sidekick Robin became Nightwing, his replacement Jason Todd was killed by the Joker. (I think I have that graphic novel up in my attic.) Guess I better watch out for jokers.

How do you become a sidekick? Well, without giving away too many secrets, do you remember the movie Wall Street, how Bud Fox got his meeting with Gordon Gekko? It was pretty much like that.

Between now and then, I just have one burning question: if Cent thinks I'm Bandit, does that mean I'm primed for a link with the other puppies @ Fide-O?

P.S. Forget Gumm--it's "Chicle" now.

iMonk's proposal

Internet Monk made this proposal. He has taken it down, but for the sake of the discussion, here is an archived copy (based on what was left right before he deleted it).

1. Internet Monk/BHT will not mention any post or blogger related to the following blogs:
Frank Turk
Steve Hayes

2. Comment Threads related to IM/BHT will be closed on these blogs.

3. The above blogs will not mention any post or blogger related to:
Internet Monk

4. Comment threads on IM posts related to these blogs will be closed.

5. I will furnish Phil Johnson access to the BHT and post editing privileges to comment on any post he believes is a violation of this agreement.

This agreement could possibly apply to any smaller number of blogs that agreed to participate, even if others did not.

If anyone wants to discuss this proposal, write me. If there is no interest in 24 hours, then we can forget it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Cataloging the Big Brouhaha

(This will be my final updated. December is a new month, and it seems best to leave this behind.

A belated welcome to readers of Phil Johnson, BHT, iMonk, Thinklings, Adrian Warnock, Brad Huston (aka Broken Messenger), and any others who have linked to me. Please feel free to have a look around my blog when you're done reading here.

Now that the dust is settling, I'm writing a post to present links to the recent verbal exchange between Centuri0n (Frank Turk) & iMonk (Michael Spencer). Although I have some opinions, I present these links without any of them; you may read for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Make sure you read the comments--they are part of the conversation.

I will continue to update this as I'm able. If you find a link you think should be added (or find an error), don't hesitate to post a comment.

Central to the discussion is a post by iMonk called "With Regrets, All My Love." This post has now been removed, but is available from him "on request." He published an explanation of why here.
(Note: it appears that the explanation is now password protected; however, the folks at Google cached it. If you care to look, you can find the original essay as well.)

The Original Fide-O Post on Emergent Hippies
Frank's response
Internet Monk mentions Frank's response on BHT
Internet Monk response #1
Matthew Johnson from Boar's Head Tavern responds
Frank's response to "prayer" comments
iMonk's A Day in a Turkish Prison
Frank Turk's Who Is "We"?
Steve Hays' "personal opinion" of Frank (in regard to prayer comment
Broken Messenger--A Theological Blog War
c.t.'s Comment
Phil Johnson weighs in on his site. (He he also posts in the comment thread on Frank's post).
Internet Monk response #3
Jason Robertson of Fide-O posts on iCritics
ScottyB's Post on Polemical Theology
Pedantic Protestant posts on Thanksgiving Turk
Steve Hays--further response after reading reading iMonk
Phil Johnson posts a comic book cover. (BTW--Phil added a comment about this entry to his comic book post, and now my hit counter looks like the water meter the time I had a leaky pipe.)
c.t. makes an analogy to Pilgrim's Progress (including an illustration).
Internet Monk makes a proposal. He also mentions his proposal on BHT. (Update: the proposal has been taken down, but I've posted a partially archived copy.)
Frank responds.
Steve Hays explains how Nicholson's Ironclad Laws of Blogging relate to the current situation.
FIDE-O's response to IM's proposal.
Travis Prinzi posts this @ BHT, and also at his own blog, in response to some comments made.
Deathroe Bodine gives his two cents.
Steve Hays responds to IM's proposal.
Phil Johnson responds to IM's proposal.
Frank responds to a comment made by Marla on this post.
Darryl Dash weighs in on People and Issues.
Adrian Warnock calls for a ceasefire.
iMonk posts on "the continuing effort to create 'Rob Schlapfer II: The IMonk Incident' ".
Brad Huston writes about the Locker Room of the Truly Reformed.
DE at the Thinklings asks Why?
Michael Bates writes about iMonk's Confessional writing, and compares his writing to Mike Yaconelli of The Wittenburg Door.
James White posts on the Tavernistas.
Brad Huston responds to James White's post.
Frank Turk responds to DE.
Brad Huston posts "A Voice of Reason Regarding iMonkgate."
Steve Hays posts "The face at the bottom of the well."
Dan Paden says Give It A Rest.
Frank responds to issues around mental instability.
FIDE-O responds to squealers (a pun, BTW, if you look at the pictures).
An open letter from the Fat Triplets.
Frank answers another open letter.
Steve Hays on Parting thoughts and parting shots.
My own post--Funny How History Repeats Itself.
Phil Johnson posts Ugliness Everywhere. This is a must read for anyone who has been following this thus far, as there are pointers for all involved.
My final post on the subject. I include tips for those who would like to continue reading (if there are any of you left out there).

Michael Spencer stopped by and asked me to include Who? Me? How I Became A Pariah in The Reformed Blogosphere. Reason #11 deals with this issue.

He has also requested (twice) that I include his claim of Centuri0n's "intention to go after" him. I don't see it as the start of this chain, but I am happy to include it here. This claim is made under the comments of A Theological Blog War post, and again (with Frank's response) in comments on Phil's comic book post.

Last Update 1:30am (or so) on 12/01/05

Happy Birthday to Me

So here's my question. Now that I'm old enough to run for President of the United States, does that make me too old to be a Blogging sidekick?

Update 1: Carla Rolfe's comment reminded me--Happy Birthday as well to Kevin, her husband. She still hasn't taken me up on the free CDRom offer of Phil Johnson's messages, but it's only a matter of time, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Biblical Love

Tom Ascol has a great post on why love trumps even the truth. A good reminder as those who care for the truth try to stand for it.

HT: Tim Irvins.

11/24/05 updated. Typo corrected. Thanks, William.

Another Blog Recommendation--διάλογος

I'm sitting here, asking myself "How much talent does one family have?" In the case of this family, the answer seems a lot.

Phil Johnson mentioned his nephew Chris Freeland last week in one of his "here's where I am now" posts, and I had to check it out. I wasn't disappointed. As nephew to the vaunted Pyromaniac, and his Behind-The-Music type insights on Phil are priceless. (I must admit--I find myself trying to picture these sentences in my mind: "The entire trip was great, but the highlight of the weekend was listening to the technologically-savvy Pyromaniac attempt to explain the intricacies of a wireless network to my 80-year-old grandparents. I'll probably get blogrolled as "annoying" for saying it, but he might have had a better chance had he tried to explain supralapsarianism.")

But to read him solely for his relative ability would be to miss the essence of his writing.

Instead, this post is a prime example of what I think is the heart of his blog. He begins by talking about one of his classes at DTS and the "class genius" who has to spout off to look good in front of the professor. Then it takes a turn:

This is where the story goes from making me mad to making me profoundly sad.

Looking directly at the know-it-all student, the professor asked him, "Where will you go when you die?"

"Heaven, I hope. Day by day I hope," replied Mr. Know-it-all, who suddenly didn't know at all.

"You hope?" asked the professor. "This is something you should know."

And he proceeded to share the Gospel with this guy, who has been in seminary nearly 4 1/2 years.

For 4 1/2 years this guy has been attending a conservative evangelical seminary dedicated to teaching believers to "Preach the Word." And somehow this guy missed the most simple and profound truth of all. "Jesus loves me, this I know."

I've been learning about the exact same thing lately--about people who are full of theology & learning but don't know the gospel, and what is really effective in reaching them.

Here's how he concludes:
I'm not blogging about this guy in order to give him a hard time. I'm blogging about this story because late into the night last night I was bothered by two lessons this story taught me.

1. It is entirely possible to worship the idol of black and white (and red) words on a page, and altogether miss the God they represent. The study of God's word is vastly important, but can't supercede a relationship with the God of which they speak which comes through faith in Christ.

2. We can't take peoples' individual stories for granted. I was fuming at this know-it-all guy trying to stump the professor with the student's infinite knowledge. Now, my response is compassion and sorrow for a guy who probably isn't even a believer. He can't help it. "The natural man can't receive the things of the Spirit because they're foolishness to him. He can't understand them because they're Spiritually appraised" (1 Corinthians 2:14).

That's it! He hits the nail on the head, both in diagnosing the problem, and in his own response to it. He's my kinda guy.

There are gobs of bloggy goodness on his site, so check it out.

P.S. Somehow, I've ended up on Phil's blogroll, and in the same category as Chris his nephew, no less (not "Appalling," either)! My initial shock gave way to giddiness, followed by a period of unworthiness (briefly contemplating a post called Top 10 Blogs That Deserve My Spot on Phil's Blogroll). But I thought better of it, and I'm just gonna say "thank you" and keep doing what I'm doing. But his link is already paying dividends--I was visited this morning by fellow "Entertaining" blogger Sojourner (Brad Williams), and TTLB thinks I'm a Crawly Amphibian.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Did God Really Say "Sell all you have..."?

“come on and follow Me, but sell your house, sell your SUV,
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor”
-Derek Webb from “Rich Young Ruler”

(HT: Dave Faulkner)

Don't think I've gone Jesus Seminar here. I'm not asking if Jesus said it. I'm asking if God said it, or if God says it--in other words, if that's what He asks of us.

Two caveats: 1) I'm still working through my theology here, so there's room for sharpening, and 2) this will be a survey, rather than a comprehensive and exhaustive look at this issue.

At issue: How does God feel about the poor, and how should we as a result feel about them?

#1 God cares about them. It doesn't take long to figure this out. You can see His love for them throughout the Law (with provisions for them), in Wisdom liturature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs), where He is said to uphold the poor, and men are admonished to do the same, and in the prophets, where His judgment in pronounced on those who oppress them and don't care for them. The word "poor" appears 141 times in the ESV OT (not 100% of these times are poor in that sense, but most are).
#2 Jesus cares for them. This probably goes without saying, but Jesus has a great love and mercy for the poor. As he is our example, it seems clear we should do likewise.
#3 The early church cared for the poor. In Acts 4 we read about those who sell their possessions so that there would be no "needy person among them;" and in Acts 6 we read that to balance the priorities of preaching & prayer, along with ministry, a group of godly men were assigned the task of caring for the widows. Paul says in Galatians 2:10 that they were "eager" to remember the poor. This statement was the resolution of a dispute between them & the Jerusalem church, whose leader was James. James 2 has much to say in relation to the poor, and those who would ignore them.

Even from these brief highlights, it should be clear that God cares for the poor, and it is our job as Christians to do it, too.

So back to our original question: Does God command that all of us sell everything and give it to the poor? No.

We might think so at first, but Christ's instructions to the "rich young ruler" seem to be for him alone, to illustrate that he has not kept and cannot fully keep the law. He may ask this of someone individually, as He did of the young man, and if He does and we don't obey, we are no better off than he was. But there is no corresponding command (that I'm aware of) for all of us to do the same. Even in the examples mentioned in Acts, it doesn't appear that everything a person owned was sold.

The bottom line is this: the Bible never commands us to sell all we have and give it to the poor. But it does make it clear that we are to care for the poor, and as Christians we have far too long relegated that responsibility to others (primarily the government). We should do this because God loves those who are poor (and so we should love them), and we should do it in the hopes of winning a hearing for the Gospel (just as Paul's motivation was to "become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some...for the sake of the gospel..." 1 Cor 9 :22-23, ESV).

P.S. Consider this at best a sidebar to Centuri0n's excellent post, soon to be a series. I hope when he does he'll flesh out in greater detail this idea that theology drives methodology, something I'm planning to write about here in the near future.

Monday, November 21, 2005

PETA's New Comic Book

Now this is the kind of comic art you won't find on Pyro or Centuri0n (as they have some minimum standards). Also, sorry to say, this is not a spoof--this is the real thing.

It was sad watching the young, attractive PETA spokeswoman recalling with great sadness how her dad had taken her fishing when she was young, and wishing that she had known about the vegan option.

It was really sad to watch her try to explain why it's ok for the bear on the Geico commercial to eat fish (bears are omnivores), but why human beings should only eat vegetables

It is tragic that people can recognize that fish feel pain, but will repress or reject that claim about small babies in their mother's wombs. Regardless of what PETA says, we really do treat our animals better than our unborn children.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bloggin' The Code

I had no interest (and in fact no intention) of reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. But as I continue to read more about it, and in light of the movie coming out next May, I've reconsidered. I'm going to cover it one Saturday morning for the men at our church in anticipation of the movie, so I'll be reading and researching between now and then.

I'm doubtful whether I'll be able to shed anything new on the subject, but I will try to post some occasional thoughts as I make my way through it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Why Do We Believe in God?

In an article entitled "Our Brains Strive To See Only the Good, Leading Some to God," Sharon Begly, who authors the weekly Science Journal column in the Wall Street Journal, says that it is as a result of our own brains. To be fair, she isn't really taking a side on it, she's just presenting the findings from Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, and Professor Pascal Boyer of Washington University. The article makes for interesting reading. But I was left wondering, is belief in God really "a predictable by-product of the ordinary cognitive function," as Professor Boyer claims?

At the outset, let me stipulate two things: 1) I have not read the journal articles or papers published by these learned men of science (nor would I probably understand them if I did); and 2) the examples given definitely lend weight to their thesis, which is that our brains tend to "interpret unexpected and even unwanted outcomes as being for the best." For instance, they cite the example of the high school senior who, after being rejected by a certain college, decides that he doesn't want to go there anyway. They also discuss an experiment where volunteers are told that they are getting a likeable, trustworthy partner (a lie), and given the biography of a very unpleasant person instead. Because they are predisposed to a positive outcome, "doesn't like people" becomes "exceptionally discerning."

And since the brain, according to Professor Gilbert, "tends to search for and hold onto the most most rewarding view of events...", Ms. Begly concludes that, whether talking about a hurricane or recovery from an illness, it is "much more rewarding to attribute death to God's will, and to see in disasters hints of the hand of God."

As I said, it makes for interesting reading, but ultimately the conclusions are selective at best and misleading at worst. Here's why.

First, it doesn't match up with experience. Human nature isn't always like that. People don't always find the good in unexpected outcomes. For example, when you talk to someone who has been laid off, they may say "it's for the best," but inside, there aren't that many who really believe it. Even among Christians (I speak from experience here). And in general, I find there are more Eyores than Winnie-the-Poohs in my life--more naysayers who can find a black cloud behind every silver lining.

Second, it doesn't match up with Scripture. Scientists say that people look to God because it it more rewarding, but Scripture says that we have all gone astray. Men "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." Gilbert says that "Belief in God is compelled by the way our brains work." But Romans 1 says that although men know God, they don't honor him as God. So if am bolstering their argument by saying that men know God, they are proving my point because they themselves look around and fail to even perceive God's existence; they have futile minds and darkened hearts (Rom 1:21).

So what is the answer? Why do we believe in God? My answer, at least, is that I believe in God because He has revealed Himself to me. While I refused to believe in God, Jesus came and did something about my condition that on my own I was helpless to do. So now I strive to fight the good fight; I strive to run the race, and win the prize; and I strive to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is He who works in me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blogroll Additions

Here are the two latest additions to my blogroll.

Carla Rolfe mentioned the other day that she didn't have links from any of the big guys (read part 1, part 2, & part 3). As I ruminated on her comment "not that any of them have me on their blogroll (except Tim), or anything, I'm not that interesting," I decided it was time to add her. I've probably read more of her stuff than half the people on my blogroll, because she is usually #2 or #3 comment on Phil's blog, so I've read lots of her thoughts.

Here blog is a combination of beatiful pictures & posts that are "long enough to cover topics," even if that means long posts; and her writing is a mixture of transparency and truth that is rarity among blogs. I can't decide what's more impressive--that she homeschools her seven kids, or that she can do all of this great blogging on dialup.

UNFORTUNATELY for her, my link will generate less traffic in a month than any of those guys do in a day...

My other new link is a friend of mine from college, RevGoT, stopped by last week. We were in the "Not Quite Dead Yet Poets Society" together at John Brown University.

Finally, just a quick note on how I do my blogroll. It's pretty simple, really.
If I read you regularly, you're on the list; if you link to me, you're on the list (unless you worship El Diablo or something like that); and if I know you personally, you're on the list (although just to be clear, I won't force you to be on the list--it's an opt-in thing). I usually have a waiting period (which varies in length), to make sure I don't include an unknown quantity (sort of the blogging equivalent of not laying hands on an elder too quickly).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Crossing the Red Sea

Even when it isn't worth a thousand words, there are just times when a picture says it best. This is one of those times.

From my daughter's history homework...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Now THAT'S a Podcast

This is an RSS link to the podcast of GraceLife from Phil Johnson's website. GraceLife is a Sunday School class taught by Phil & Don Green, and is probably larger than my church. Anyway, the feed has 202 sermons listed. Yes, that's two hundred. Roughly about 5 gigabytes worth of sermons.(If you don't know how to use RSS, have no fear; click here to go to the regular audio download page.)

Here are some of my favorites (click to listen or download):
God's Wrath
Life & Times of Phil Johnson (A retelling of this tale, and gives context to this travel post)
What's Wrong with Wright
Dead Right--the Failure of Fundamentalism (some good history in this one)
Defending Your Faith Without Losing Your Mind (This one is by Don Green. Fabulous!)

And last but not least, the Survey of Heresies series:
Part 1--The Judaizers Includes the answer to the all-important question "Why are we studying the Thelogical errors of a bunch of dead guys?"
Part 2--The Gnostics
Part 3--The Arians (A & B)
Part 4--The Pelagians
Part 5--The Socinians

Last word. Lest you think I'm merely posting a bunch of links to another site to make my post for the day, well, you'd be wrong. I have been known to do that from time to time, but this isn't one of those posts. This is an attempt to help you "redeem the time." Turn off your radios and tune in to some good preaching.

Monday, November 14, 2005

God's Sovereignty over Conception

A few years back, I wrote this to encourage a friend who was having trouble getting pregnant, and later for a relative who had gotten pregnant right after getting married. It's funny how often good, biblical advice can come around full circle.
I was thinking about your situation, and I wanted to share a couple of the things I’ve observed from the Bible.

First, I am convinced from looking at Scripture that God is intimately involved in the birth process, right from the beginning. In these verses, it talks about God’s active involvement, and His plan for us.

Isaiah 49:5
And now the Lord says-he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength-

Psalm 139:13-17
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Jeremiah 1:5
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

His plan even includes the time and place for us to be born. He knows and decides exactly when and where each of us should come to be.

Acts 17:24-26
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

Second, there are several passages that clearly demonstrate that the Lord controls the process of childbearing. I’ve included one sample passage, but there are many times in the OT where something like this happens.

Genesis 20:17-18
Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again, for the Lord had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife Sarah.

Finally, I love this passage from Psalms, which speaks to the way we should view our children.

Psalm 127:3-5
Sons are a heritage from the Lord , children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

The bottom line is this: God controls the process of conception, and is involved in it all the way through. He chooses to bless us with more children through His great goodness and mercy. God made the decision to send you this blessing, and although it may not feel like the right time, it always is. Congratulations, and we will continue to pray for both of you during this pregnancy…and beyond.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oh, wait, it's all gonna be OK...

Someone named "Mustafer Ali" just e-mailed me from Nigeria, and in return for my help repatriating $10 million US Dollars belonging to an American family (who, unfortunately, were killed in a car accident back in 2000), he will split it 65-25, with 10% for taxes.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. This sounds a little fishy. I thought so, too, at first. But it must be legit. He said so.

Don't believe me? Read his final paragraph for yourself.
"All I require is your honest Cooperation to enable us see this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law."

So there you go. I'm off to collect my 2.5 million.

Note: I couldn't get the <sarcasm> tags to work. Hope that didn't detract from this blog entry.

Jumpin' Jehoshaphat--I'm a Slithering Reptile!

Not sure what brought this about. I was just minding my own business, and all of a sudden, I'm moving up the TTLB food chain once again.

A couple of burning questions in my mind. First, how did this happen? I wonder if it was Phil Johnson's John 11:35 Blogspot?

Second, and more importantly, as a Christian, is it theologically correct to say that I'm moving up when I turn into a serpent? Great Scott, what have I done?!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

There's Good News and There's Bad News...

Here's an article I've been wanting to write, but haven't found the time. Pastor Samson presents the Gospel according to the original Gospel tract, the book of Romans (and does a much better job than I would have, anyway).

Monday, November 07, 2005

While We Were Yet Sinners...

My Saturday morning class has been focusing on "Doing God's Business God's Way." A part of that is recognizing our status apart from God's intervention on our behalf.

One passage that has been great in that regard is from Romans 5. In it, Paul makes clear what our standing was BC (before Christ).

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Rom 5:6-11, ESV)

While we were weak (and powerless)
While we were sinners
While we were enemies
While we were all of these things, Christ came and gave his life for us.

This is a great and important truth--one that we must keep constantly in the forefront of our minds. If we forget our own sinfulness, we rob God of His great triumph over our sin; we cheapen the value of Christ's sacrifice; and we even run the risk of becoming like Israel of old, thinking we were chosen for some reason other than God's good pleasure.

When you read Paul's testimony about himself, he is crystal clear on what his own condition is, and I wonder at times if that is why he knows so great a salvation. Reading verses like this is a great reminder of our true state apart from Christ, lest we delude ourselves into thinking we are somehow "better sinners" than others.

Near the end of his life, John Newton is quoted as saying "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour." May we all be able to recognize and willing to say the same thing about ourselves.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Who Needs Toys?

We often joke about why we bother to buy our kids toys, considering how much more fun they have with the boxes the come in. It's interesting, because unlike many toys, boxes require imagination--and the kids are always up to the challenge. A box can be just about anything. What it is changes daily, and often even more frequently. Even when it breaks down from use, that still doesn't stop them from playing with it. It is a truly amazing phenomenon.

Anyway, what prompted this post is that my kids, who are a few feet away from me, are taking turns throwing a piece of scrap plastic wrapper of some type up in the air while the other one catches it. Meanwhile, the real toys lie dormant in their various baskets and tubs, or strewn about various places around the house. I sometimes wonder if it's the act of taking them out of their containers that the kids find the most fun anyway.

Of course, with Christmas "just around the corner" (at least if you live in Retailing World), the toy marketing machine is kicking into full gear, with TV ads, catalogues, and every other kind of advertisement imaginable.

And I go on asking myself, "When will we stop buying toys for the kids?"

11/20/05 update: The cardboard box was just inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. CNN Announcement and the MSNBC Interview with the Museum Curator.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Greek Geeks--this is Cool!

Zack Hubert, who's site has already been named by me as the coolest website of the year, continues his path to greatness. He has built a Flash-based interface that works similar to his webpage, only faster. (HT: ESV Blog.) One unfortunate consequence of the link directly from the blog is that Zach is over his allotment for verse queries. So wait a day or three before you try to access the ESV text in parallel. NASB seems unaffected.

Despite this little glitch, he has something really great here. Why? I'll let Zack tell you (bold emphasis mine):

A few comments...

So this is a new direction which is in development, which means its not going to be as full featured as the rest of the website for a little bit. So why do it?

Well, the reason is because this new approach is much more like an *application* and less like a website and though that is a little uncomfortable at first, I strongly believe it will be awesome in the end as you'll have a highly interactive website that can do things other websites cannot presently.


Distributed! You could embed the same source that I have here on any webpage that you wanted to and have a *local* on your website.

Font Freedom - this approach doesn't require any fonts on your system

Rich Media - drag/drop, click, double click, hover, etc

And much more...

So forget links--you can have the power of this application on your webpage or blog. Wow! BTW--I should mention that the Daily Bible Reading from the Greek NT (in the upper right-hand corner of the blog) is courtesy of Mr. Hubert as well.

Steve Hays is prolific!

Holy Cow! Steve Hays is downright prolific. This man could be the Stephen King of Theological Blogging. The Zane Grey of blogging? Or, if you prefer, the John Creasey of TB (Creasey, for those who don't know, was a British mystery writer who wrote 500 novels under different names; most appropriately, Stephen King says "I look positively blocked next to Creasey."). He is that prolific, in terms of verbiage.

But he isn't churning out bestselling blockbusters, slush pile scripts, or pulp-style potboilers. No, he's trying to inform and reason with his readers. And he does so with a style that's definitely his own (if you doubt me on the style thing, stop and admire his blog design for a moment).

So here is my endorsement--and if his blog design is a bit overwhelming, may I suggest RSS? I close with this quote from El Centuri0n--"Some people say Steve does not have a sense of humor, but those people are still being treated in the burn ward from the last time they tried to tell him he was wrong."

[P.S. I've updated my blogroll--it should now include most of the blogs I read regularly (in the approximate order I read them), plus blogs that have linked to me (all five of you). And in case you're wondering, I didn't include Steve because I usually like to read blogs for about a month or so before I link to them--just to be sure.]

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I've Got the Blogger Blues

Suffering from poor internet access, so I'm having to punt. Let me just highlight a couple of developing issues, with the hope of giving my own comments in a future post.

I previously mentioned James White's coverage of the DaVinci Code movie. He's published a 4th installment. Here's a quote: "I spoke on the subject at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church this weekend, and will be speaking at various churches in the Phoenix area on it between now and next May. Sadly, in most churches, almost no one is aware of what is coming our way with this film as far as its 'anti-evangelistic' impact." I think he's probably right.

Churches should be prepared, as best they can. This will almost certainly be a blockbuster (look who's making it and tell me if you disagree). But the fact of the matter is, Dan Brown has written a story that is based on discredited documents and woven together with conspiracy theory speculation and anti-Catholicism. Despite this being "just fiction," people who see the movie will believe it to be based on fact, just as Dan Brown himself does. Both this and the new book by Anne Rice promise to be a challenge to the Evangelical church to know it's history, and be prepared to defend historicity.

The second series of articles I would commend to you is over at Phil Johnson's website. He is extolling the value of the Bible as the weapon of our spiritual war. The point he makes is valid, I think, even if you don't agree with his statements about Purpose-Driven Churches . In fact, I would propose that even if you leave churches out of the equation altogether, we as individuals many times fail to appreciate the value of the Sword of the Spirit. Here's a quote. Make sure you go read the articles.

"These weapons are powerful because they are the instruments of God's power. They are 'mighty through God.' Their effectiveness does not ultimately depend on the skill of the swordsmen or the cleverness of our strategies. These weapons are always effectual because they unleash the power of God.

Don't distrust those weapons. They trump every kind of fleshly weapon for spiritual warfare."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sudoku--Have you seen this game?

Where has this game been all my life? It's like a word find, only with numbers. So addictive, it's frightening! Do not start one of these at work.

I like the site above because it has an RSS Feed, plus this site will let you create the puzzles in PDF--perfect for saving & e-mailing later.

Here's a list of some of the better sites supporting the game. And here you can download a free Palm app that generates & solves puzzles.