Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Review of Pradis Bible Software

Dan Phillips, who has written reviews of Logos Bible Software and BibleWorks 7, asked how Pradis was.

I downloaded my free copy of Pradis, with the NASB (1995 update) and the UBS4 Greek New Testament. Here’s a cursory review of that system, written for Dan and anyone else who might be interested. Remember, you can get it free until the end of the year.

The checkout process was easy, and it took me longer to download than it did to check out. Download was about 25MB. Once I installed it, it was up and running in a few seconds.

Navigation is available by chapter on the sidebar, or you can do a search. The NASB text is displayable in either verse or paragraph format (very nice, since this is hard to find), while the UBS text is verse only.

Like other higher end Bible software, this one comes with the ability to link texts, save desktops, and a right-click will give you the option to copy verse, chapter, or selection. But there aren't many options for the format of the text itself. For instance, you can't leave out verse numbers or the headings.

The text window has an optional display of footnotes and cross references at the right or bottom of the screen. Only one of those items can be shown in a position; the footnotes on the side aren't legible, so realistically, the setup has to be cross references on the side and footnotes on the bottom. Cross references have popups, or you can click through to them. Removing the footnote and cross reference panes removed them from the text as well. One annoying thing here was that if you split the windows, you couldn’t adjust the size of the panes.

The link option between the UBS & NASB worked perfectly when both were displayed as verses only. When displayed as paragraphs, the search took you to the nearest paragraph.

The Greek text was the biggest disappointment. It uses the same technique found on the Basics of Biblical Greek CDRom. In fact, the font from Pradis and the Mounce font use the same transliteration scheme. In fact, the two fonts are almost identical. I can understand the reasoning for doing the Greek font that way. You maximize compatibility when you provide your own font and scheme. That's good for printing (assuming a good quality font), but you can't use it for e-mail, blogging, etc.

I'm not sure how useful it would be to someone else, particularly if you already have BibleWorks or the Greek module for Libronix, except for maybe the person who is invasively curious about the differences between the UBS Greek text and the Greek text underlying the NIV.

In summary: This review is limited, and based on initial impressions only, due to the constraints of trying to get something out there for someone who's thinking about getting some free software. I’m sure some of the limitations I've mentioned are due to not having a bunch of modules installed, just my two free Bibles, and also not working with it very much. But the main perception that I got from my use of it is that it is truly intended to be a retail product - not geared toward either scholars or those in ministry, but laypeople.

As for myself, I got a copy of the NASB 1995 update for free, so I won't complain too much. There are some preferences I'd rather see, but I can live with it. No Unicode for the Greek means no help with blogging. That's disappointing, but I may get some use from the Greek module using word processors like WordPerfect, which don't support Unicode. I probably won't use this software as much as I do other tools, but it will be there for when I need it.

If you’re going to take advantage of the free offer before its expiration at the end of the year, consider getting two English Bible translations instead.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Four Arkansas Republicans Debate Huckabee

Four Arkansas Republicans were on the radio in Iowa today debating the merits of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

Fer: State Senator Gilbert Baker & former State Representative Doug Matayo
Agin: former State Senator Jim Holt & former State Representative Randy Minton

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is as close as you're going to get all election season to hearing each side's main points, but also some dialogue.

Dowload audio here.

Program is the first 37 minutes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

$25 off Introductory Offer for Pradis

eZondervan is offering an introductory offer for Pradis. $25 off. The really great thing? There's no minimum to buy.

That's a smoking deal. For example, you can get the NASB (or NIV) for $10, UBS4 for $13.00, and still have $2.00 to put toward something else.

Gotta hurry. Offer ends December 31. This link gives the details, then allows you to click through to eZondervan.

Monday, December 03, 2007

That's the look

Here's what you'd look like if you'd just turned seven and got the Chronicles of Narnia audio boxed set for your birthday.

Thanks to all who contributed toward this present.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank Who?

Have you ever stopped to consider that the phrase "thank you" is directed at someone? By implication, when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we are giving thanks to someone.

Certainly this creates a dilemma for the atheist. Who is he thanking, himself? Blind, stupid luck? Perhaps atheists are never thankful for the circumstances they find themselves in. Or, perhaps they just have that feeling of generic thankfulness which is never directed anywhere or to anyone. Whatever the case, they are not able to be thankful in the proper way.

Those of other religions are not better off. Since God commands us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, someone who doesn't worship Him in that way has created his own God, and committed idolatry. His thankfulness only brings more judgment on himself.

For the Christian, this should be no problem. Yet often times I find myself slipping into that same type of "thankfulness" that is directed at no one in particular.

This year, spend some time considering not only what you are thankful for, but also to whom you are thankful - God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 19, 2007

John Piper on Right Belief

I just downloaded a PDF copy of John Piper's new book The Future of Justification, his response to N. T. Wright. It's available for free download from here.

I can already tell I'm going to like it.

In the book's introduction, John Piper is talking about some of Wright's statements, and then talks about the implications, sort of whetting the appetite for the rest of the book. One part mentions one of Wright's famous statements, "We are not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith." But Piper's introductory reply to this statement also speaks to those from the Emerging Church and elsewhere who would divorce right belief from a relationship with Jesus. I particularly like what he says at the end about the one who claims a relationship with God while at the same time rejecting the Gospel which is set forth in Scripture.

Fourth, part of the implication of what Wright has said so far is that we are not justified by believing in justification by faith but by believing in Jesus: "We are not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith. We are justified by faith by believing in the gospel itself—in other words, that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead."18 This sounds right. Of course, we are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by Christ. But it is misleading, because it leaves the meaning of "believing in the gospel" undefined. Believing in the gospel for what? Prosperity? Healing? A new job? If we are going to help people believe the gospel in a saving way (not the way the demons believe, and not the way Simon the magician believed, James 2:19; Acts 8:13, 21–23), we will have to announce the good news that Christ died for them; that is, we will have to announce why this death and resurrection are good news for them.

There is more than one way to say it. Many people have been saved without hearing the language of justification. The same is true with regard to the words and realities of "regeneration" and "propitiation" and "redemption" and "reconciliation" and "forgiveness." A baby believer does not have to understand all of the glorious things that have happened to him in order to be saved. But these things do all have to happen to him. And if he comes to the settled conviction, when he hears about them, that he will not trust Christ for any one of them, there is a serious question mark over his salvation. Therefore, it is misleading to say that we are not saved by believing in justification by faith. If we hear that part of the gospel and cast ourselves on God for this divine gift, we are saved. If we hear that part of the gospel and reject it, while trying to embrace Christ on other terms, we will not be saved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jesus Interprets Paul?

On another blog, someone made this comment, and it's been bugging me.

Jesus interprets Paul. Not the other way around. Everything Paul writes should gain it's context and tone through the filter of Jesus. Paul (along with the other writers in NT) was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So if there are things Paul writes or implies that doesn't SEEM to jive with the person of Jesus as seen in the Gospel...it's just a matter of deferring to Jesus until one gets a better understanding of Paul's intent through study or simply the Holy Ghost.

Is this just a matter of "tie goes to the runner," or is there more at work here? It seems to stem from the notion that the "words in red" should be given more weight than the rest of Scripture. But are Jesus' words more important or more inspired than Paul's, or John's, or David's? I don't think so.

This notion seems to contravene the idea of progressive revelation. God's plan becomes more clear as we move throughout the Bible because He has revealed more of it as we move throughout the ages. So it would seem that, all things being equal, it would be Paul interpreting Jesus, not the other way around. And in general, I think Paul's writing is much more fleshed out in his theology than the Gospels.

I also see the potential for abuse with this. For example, someone could claim that Jesus takes no position on homosexuality, but Paul does. You could potentially have someone who waffles on homosexuality (or worse), and uses Jesus as their basis for doing so.

Bottom line - it bothers me because it goes against what I've learned about Scripture. But I could always be wrong.

So I'm looking for input.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Heidelberg Project - from TheResurgence

Heidelberg Project | TheResurgence

This is a great idea! 3 minutes a week of the Heidelberg Catechism.

I wonder if anyone has done this with the Westminster Confession or the LBCF.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Knew There Was One I Forgot!

Justin Taylor had posted this at the beginning of the month, & I forgot to include it in my previous audio update.

Only two days left.


Life of David Brainerd - Free Audio download from ChristianAudio.com.

David Brainerd was a missionary to the Indians in America, and was someone who inspired the likes of Jonathan Edwards.

You'll have to sign up at the website, and it's about 9 parts, but ChristianAudio gives away a new freebie each month, so it would be worth the hassle.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Late To Church Yesterday? It Was the Satellite's Fault!

Did anyone else get head-faked by an auto-update from a satellite that wasn't reprogrammed for the new Daylight Savings Time?

I talked to two people yesterday who were--one had their phone updated, the other had their car, VCR, and I'm not sure what else.

I didn't have that excuse. I did have a major battle over pants that were slightly too big, not wanting to wear a belt, and refusing to go potty before we left for church, but I'm told that the best parents build in buffer for that kind of time.

Still beats last week, when we had one throwing up at 5 minutes before departure time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Donut Face

I opened a seemingly innocent package of donuts last week, and this was staring back at me.




If someone could take this and mass produce it, they would make a ton of money around Halloween time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Audio Extravaganza

The great debate between believer and atheist is available for free. Well almost.

The debate between Greg Bahnsen and atheist Gordon Stein is available from Covenant Media Foundation for two cents. Considering that people these days are more likely to walk past two pennies in the parking lot than pick them up, sounds like free to me. HT: Pulpit Live (via a link from James White ).

For the more secularly inclined, the BBC has also expanded its podcast offerings immensely. Lots o' good stuff to choose from.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Attempted Righteousness

HT to Fred Butler for pointing out this guy who spent a year trying to live "Biblically." Fred adds his thankfulness about Christ's fulfillment of those laws. (I noticed that Doug Pagitt also posted a link, but without any comment.)

A. J. Jacobs is the man in question. In the article, Newsweek characterizes The Year of Living Biblically (the name of his forthcoming book) as a year spent “carrying around a stapled list of the more than 700 rules and prohibitions identified in the Good Book,” and mentions that he “consulted with religious leaders and spent time with the Amish, Hassidic Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

I'm sure Newsweek picked this up in part because of his startling physical transformation, which you can see if you click through to the link above.

I found the article interesting, and I'll probably take a look at the book, if for no other reason than to see what rules he adopted for himself. Here's some excerpts from the Q&A part of the article.

NEWSWEEK: It’s been a little over a year since your experiment ended and you shaved your beard. How’s the life of sin?
A. J. Jacobs: It’s all right. I miss my sin-free life, but I guess I was never sin free. I was able to cut down on my coveting maybe 40 percent, but I was still a coveter. Flat-screen TVs, the front yard of my friend in the suburbs, a better cell phone, higher Amazon rankings. And that's not to mention coveting my neighbor's wife. . .

What, if any, rules are you still following?
I’m not Gandhi or Angelina Jolie, but I made some strides. The experience changed me in big ways and small ways. There’s a lot about gratefulness in the Bible, and I would say I’m more thankful. I focus on the hundred little things that go right in a day, instead of the three or four things that go wrong. And I love the Sabbath. There’s something I really like about a forced day of rest. Also, during the experiment I wore a lot of white clothes, because Ecclesiastes says let your garments always be white, and I loved it, so I look like Tom Wolfe now. Wearing white just made me happier. I couldn’t be in a bad mood walking down the street looking like I was about to play in the semifinals at Wimbledon. . .

Are you a more religious person as a result of this experiment?
Well, I don’t want to give away the ending, but let’s say I started the year as an agnostic, and now I am a reverent agnostic. Whether or not there is a God, I believe in sacredness. Rituals can be sacred, the Sabbath can be sacred however you choose to observe it. . .

What rule was the hardest to follow?
Two kinds of rules were hard. Avoiding sins we commit every day like lying, gossiping and coveting was hard, and then there were the rules that were hard to do in modern life, like stoning adulterers. But I did manage to fulfill that one. What happened was, I was in the park, dressed in my white garb, and this man in his 70s came over and asked what I was doing. I explained I was trying to follow every rule in the Bible as literally as possible, including growing my beard, not mixing fibers, stoning adulterers, and he said, “I’m an adulterer, are you going to stone me?” I said, “Yeah that would be great.” The Bible doesn’t say what size the stones have to be, so I had been carrying around these pebbles in my pocket for just such an occasion. I took the pebbles out of my pocket, and he instantly picked one up and threw it at me, so I decided, an eye for an eye, and I tossed one at him. . .

It's sad to read, because it seems he was so close to seeing the truth (I guess I never was sin free), but truth eluded him (or perhaps he eluded truth, but that's another topic).

By God's providence, I was just reading a section of The Truth War, and this passage struck me as particularly apropos.

Paul says in Romans 9:31-32 that "Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law." In other words, regardless of how meticulous they may have been in their external observance of of God's law, their unbelief was sufficient to exclude them from the kingdom. "They being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:3-4). They doubted the truth of Christ, and that proved spiritually fatal in spite of how well they had perfected an external display of piety. (Page 33)

Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, [they] have not submitted to the righteousness of God. That pretty well sums up every political system, worldview, philosophy, and religion on the earth.

But it gets worse. The flip side of Christ being the end of the law for those who put their faith in him, is that those who don't have faith are bound to the law, and its consequences. Paul says elsewhere in Romans that “by works of the law no human being [literally flesh] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

And in Galatians, Paul states it even greater detail:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14, ESV).

So those who attempt to attain righteousness through the law only succeeded in bringing a curse upon themselves, and that curse is not just physical death, but spiritual death.

So I praise God not only because He sent His son to fulfill the law, and that His son's fulfillment of the law removed the requirements of the law, but even more so that it has removed the curse of the law. I don't have to keep the law, nor do I need to, because God considers my righteous by faith.

What Jacobs got out of his Year of Living Biblically was a new wardrobe, a “sabbath celebration,” and the knowledge that he couldn't really keep the law. If only he'd read finished the book, he might have seen how things will turn out, and perhaps he would have gotten much more.

Scripture quoted from the book The Truth War, by John MacArthur, was taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Note of Congratulations

Just wanted to take a moment to congratulate my friend (and reader of this blog) Tom Nash, who recently finished reading Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.

Anyone familiar with that book knows it is a lengthy tome, to say the least. I am seriously impressed.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), now that Tom is finished, he's not going to Disneyland. Rather, he's going to take a little time away from non-fiction reading to read a little Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Hopefully I will get an opportunity soon to glean a little about what he learned. When I do, I'll report back.

Once again, Tom, congrats on your accomplishment.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Free Audio - Children Desiring God Conference Audio

The folks at Desiring God have made the audio from their 2005 and 2007 Children Desiring God Conferences available for free download. Looks like there are also handouts from select sessions available.

Our church uses curriculum produced by them, and we (as parents) have been extremely pleased by its godly emphasis.


HT: Faith By Hearing

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Men's Fellowship

My new vehicle had a gasket that had to be replaced, but in order to do it, the engine had to be removed (American engineering!). I don't know much about such things, but apparently they also had to disconnect the battery, because when I turned my radio on and started hitting buttons, all my saved stations were gone.

Which explains why I ended up listening to a channel I don't usually listen to. The last time I listened to it, they were having an on-air drinking contest, to see how many beers it took the DJs to hit the legal limit. It was pretty loathsome, even considering what passes for "morning show humor" these days.

So imagine my surprise last Wednesday when I heard this same DJ talking about going to a Men's Fellowship group that morning at one of our local churches. "Surprise" seems woefully inadequate to describe my reaction.

But it's what he said next that I found both instructive and more than a bit heartbreaking. I'm putting it in quotes, but it isn't transcribed–-merely the best that I can remember.

"If you're not a religious type...If you're not into singing hymns, and praying prayers, and holding hands with other guys, that isn't what this is about. I don't think there was a single hymn sung, or a prayer prayed. But we watched clips from Gladiator [and several other movies]...it was very motivating.."

Of course, it is always possible for those who are blind to the truth to miss it even when it's right in front of them, but the sponsoring church's website states that the meeting is presented "as a community service not as a church service," which seems consistent with what was reported.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?

I'm not trying to say that everything that happens at the church has to involve some kind of heavy-duty Bible study. But when someone who's life screams "I need the gospel" is overheard recommending your fellowship meeting because of its complete lack of religious content, perhaps it is time to reconsider your priorities. Motivation is fine, as far as it goes, but to send someone away highly motivated but totally lost with not even a clue of their spiritual condition is a sad situation indeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Heroes - A First Reaction

We watched about 25 minutes of Heroes last night, and I have to say, my initial reaction was "what's the big deal?" My wife commented on the number of characters that were in the show, and I told her it was kind of like Lost, but without the suspense.

We ended up watching a movie instead. Maybe we'll try it when it hits DVD.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Everything and Nothing

Ever had so much to say that you couldn't get anything out?

Yeah, that's me right now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back To School

When I decided to go back to school, I didn't expect to have to drink out of these little cups again!






No, that was actually my water, courtesy of Northeastern Airlines. I thought that Southwest was no frills in the refreshment department.

Anyway, I'm out of town for a week for a class, so I won't be blogging much (which will be little change from what I've been doing lately).

I'm in Tampa, so if you're in the area, drop me a note on e-mail.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Anyone know of a good file-syncing program?

My directory structure on the home and work computers are the same, & I use a 4GB thumbdrive for the in-between.

I do it manually now, but would love to have files I update on one computer automatically sync with the thumbdrive, and then on the other computer when I plug it in.

Any suggestions? Prefer free, but wouldn't be opposed to shelling out a few bucks for something if it worked well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Minimalist "Word Processors"

WebWorker Daily has published a list of free minimalist word processors.

A few of the commenters were nostalgic about the good ole' DOS days, while others preferred the simplicity of Microsoft's standard Notepad.

As a collector of this type of software, the article was interesting to me because of the number of online choices (which frankly I think are a real pain). I also found myself agreeing with one of the commenters who said that a couple of the apps were a stretch to call a "word processor." These are properly text editors, in most cases. (There is a previous WebWorker article on favourite word processor, but even that thread includes some text editors.)

I'll probably return to this topic at some point in the future, but for now, I'll say this:
1. RoughDraft is by far my favorite of the bunch. I use it daily. Someday I'll get around to posting about how great it is.
2. Abiword is so overrated. I don't know why, but I just don't like it. So much for "everyone's favorite..."
3. If you are looking for a fullscreen text editor geared toward writing, try Q-10. It's got a timer, word and page counts, and dozens of other features that I don't have time to mention now. I've been toying with it in my "spare time," but it beats all the fullscreen choices mentioned here. Windows only.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Free Fries at Hardees

Hardees is offering free fries, Friday August 24th. The add I saw on Yahoo says "just show up."

I hope Cent has Cent's kids have some for me, since we don't have Hardees anywhere close.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Desperately in need of some practical advice

Son #4, who is 3, has taken to playing in the sink. Filling it up and putting cars and other toys in it. Unfortunately, the playing has now spilled over (pardon the pun) into the toilet.

We would like to extinguish this behavior as quickly as possible, for numerous (and hopefully fairly obvious) reasons. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Advice For Mattel

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog offers some advice for Mattel on their toy imbroglio from an interview they did with Victor Schwartz, the head of the public policy practice at Shook Hardy & Bacon in Washington.

Though I'm not a lawyer, I am a parent, and I've got some free advice for Mattel, too:

STOP MANUFACTURING TOYS IN CHINA!

You may think it's gonna cost you more in labor, but you're betting against the parents who decide Chinese toys just aren't worth the risk. You'll have to determine which risk is greater in the long run--and particularly whether you want your reputation to be one of safe quality playthings or just cheap Chinese toys.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mountain Dew Game Fuel

One word: hideous.

Tastes like a carbonated version of Tweety toothpaste.


Update: here's a picture of this mongrel, so that you can better identify and avoid it.




Monday, August 06, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Weeping with those who weep

Great post by John Piper on the tragedy in Minneapolis.

Here's just a single paragraph from it.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.


HT: Challies.

Update: Phil @ Team Pyro has an outstanding post on God's Divine Providence in Disaster, which apparently has been labeled as "too God-centered" in some parts of the blogosphere. Yeah, right. That ranks right up there with preaching that's too Bible-centered, and or a Gospel that's too Christ-centered.

God is the God of big things, and little things, too.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Concert Update

Based on his response to the previous post, Dan Phillips obviously doubts the genuineness of my free offer of the concert. What a dilemma!

The concert was great. They actually had to cut their planned set short because the venue (2nd Presbyterian Church) wanted things wrapped up by 10pm. Had you seen the average age of the attendees, you would think twice before laughing. Let's just say we weren't the only ones out way past our bedtime.

The good news/bad news scenario is that most of the band is moving to Nashville. Good, because they'll most likely be discovered, make lots of money, and more people will be able to hear their songs, including hearing about Jesus. The bad news is (on a purely selfish level) they won't be around here locally to go see anymore.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Emerging Audio

Although this expands a comment I made on this Pyro post, I actually started writing my post last week. Curse my slowness!

The Al Mohler radio program had a first-hand example of the Emerging Church mentality about "truth." Guest host Dr. Russell Moore had Tony Jones on there, and they had a little "conversation."

I'll let you listen for yourself and form an opinion, but here are a couple of impressions.

1) A half-hour broadcast isn't the best forum to tease out what an Emerging person believes.

This isn't intended to be a slam, just a fact. You don't want to ask me to pray at mealtime if you want a quick prayer, and you won't get a quick, straightforward answer from an Emerging person.

2) On a related note, there was a point where I felt like Dr. Moore was trying a bit too hard to create fireworks. In retrospect, that may just be his trying to pin Mr. Jones down, but there was a moment where I felt more like I was listening to conservative talk radio than Al Mohler. I don't like it when someone tap dances around a question (or in this case tap dances and then calls it an answer), but I'm equally annoyed when the interviewer puts words in the interviewee's mouth simply to make his point.

In retrospect, as I said, the time factor was working against him, and I think he was just trying to cut to the heart of the issue, but at times it seemed like he pushed a bit.

3) I was suprised at how quick Tony Jones was to distance himself from Mark Driscoll. It was as if he was saying that Pastor Driscoll's Reformed understanding of the Scripture was incompatible with the movement.

4) The notion of "local truth" I confess left me scratching my head. The whole idea of "it's true for me" makes my skin crawl anyway; the problem I see with the Emergent "truth seekers" is that they can't seem to distinguish between things that are cultural and things that are universal truth. That, and I get the feeling they would question any well-accepted truth simply because it was well-accepted. When he was talking about the Council of Nicaea and his notion of "Platonic truth," I couldn't help but think about an extensive, nuanced discussion between Emergent folks about whether 1 + 1 = 2.

In the end, I find myself (not suprisingly) agreeing with many others who have given this thumbnail sketch of Emerging: their diagnosis of the Evangelical Church is right on, but their prescription is horribly flawed. If there was any doubt about whether liberalism and post-modernism could co-exist, I think it has been put to rest.

I hope to revisit this discussion as I progress further in reading The Truth War.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Custom PDF Calendars

My first "Works for me Wednesday" post

This site is kinda handy. Lets you print a custom calendar with up to 12 weeks on a page. Lots of customization options.

I've found it helpful for creating assignment overview calendars--6 weeks on landscape have done the trick.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Why God Isn't A Risk Taker

Here's a great quote from Risk and the Cause of God, by John Piper, which explains the concept of risk, and why God can't take them.

The whole thing is worth reading.

Why is there such a thing as risk? The reason there is such a thing as risk is that there is such a thing as ignorance. If there were no ignorance, there would be no risk. Risk is possible because we don't know how things will turn out.

This means that God can take no risks. He knows the outcome of all his choices before they happen. And since he knows the outcome of all his actions before they happen, he plans accordingly. His omniscience rules out the very possibility of taking risks.

Friday, July 06, 2007

True Freedom

I was working on a big long discourse about the meaning of true freedom for the recent holiday past. But then I read this, and I thought,"Why not quote someone who speaks from experience?" As believers, we should all speak from this experience, though I know in my own life the passion and vitality I should have as a result of being set free is sadly lacking.

In any case, I'll let an inspired expert speak on the subject.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-2, ESV)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Keeping The Law

So here's a question for anyone who cares to answer.

The Bible is clear that man because of his sin can't be made righteous by the law.

But why? Is it because man is incapable of keeping the law, or is it because the law doesn't make anyone righteous, it just recognizes righteousness or unrighteousness?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How Then Shall We Go Broke? $5 Books From Desiring God

Books are on sale at Desiring God today and tomorrow for $5.

Not sure if it includes their bibles, but it does seem to include all the biographies, and his treatise on Romans 9.

(Note: it looks like word is out, though, because the website is slower than molasses in January. I guess I'll have to do my shopping later on this evening.)

Now, I wonder how fast I can finish the report I'm working on now to pay for all this good stuff...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Worth At Least a Thousand Words

I've got more to say about Father's Day, but it will have to wait a bit. In the meantime, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this one has to be worth at least five times that much.



This is William Faulkner's Underwood Universal portable typewriter, which resides in the Faulkner Museum in Oxford, MS.

Has anyone ever been to the museum? My wife's grandparents live there in Oxford, but our timing is always poor, and the museum always seems to be closed when we're there. I do have a picture of me and Mr. Faulkner's statue on the bench in the town square, though.

In any case, I always find pictures of typewriters inspirational (as in "inspiring me to sit down and write something"), and I hope this one might be to others as well. Perhaps this picture will inspire a thousand words.

Picture by Gary Bridgman, southsideartgallery.com, who licensed this picture under (among other things) a Creative Commons 1.0 Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Updated with words in red so that Jeremy doesn't think I live in a museum.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On the Religious Education of Children

In keeping with the Father's Day theme, here are some thoughts about the religious education of children. This is taken from our church's Children's Ministry Handbook.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OF CHILDREN

Where is it to be done?
Tradition: At the church building
Scripture: In the home and everywhere

When is it to be done?
Tradition: Once a week during the Sunday School hour
Scripture: All day every day, and at specific times of family worship

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, ESV)


Who is responsible for it?
Tradition: Sunday School Teachers
Scripture: The Parents

Who has oversight?
Tradition: Sunday superintendent/teacher, pastor, elder/deacon board
Scripture: The father

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)


Who is to "blame" if the children grow up rebels?
Tradition: The Sunday school, church, pastor
Scripture: The parents

Then the Lord said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever. (1 Samuel 3:11-14, ESV)

(A quick note here: I think a case could be made that the individual himself is responsible, based on a number of verses, including Deuteronomy 24:16. There are some issues that I don't wish to pursue at this time; suffice it to say, wherever you draw the line, it isn't the church who is primarily responsible for a failure to raise children correctly--precisely the point being made here.)


What will be taught?
Tradition: Bible stories & lessons
Scripture: The whole counsel of God

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hymn for Father's Day: It Is Well With My Soul

Imagine sending your spouse and children on ahead to your new home, while you remain behind to finish up the remaining business. Then imagine your spouse calling and saying,"There's been an accident; I was the only one that survived."

This is exactly what happened to Horatio Spafford. It is the inspiration behind of the most beloved hymns,"It Is Well With My Soul."

Horatio's wife Anna went ahead to America with his four daughters while he stayed behind. The boat the Spafford family was on collided with another. 226 souls, including the four daughters, drowned; 29 survived.

Mrs. Spafford's telegram to her husband read thus:
Saved alone what shall I do. Mrs. Goodwin children Willie Culver lost. Go with Lorriaux until answer reply Porclain 64 Rue Aboukir Paris Spafford


(For a fuller account, check out this link on the Christian History Institute website--but make sure you have something handy to wipe away the tears.)

I can't help but think of Job's reaction to his great loss, and speculate on what might be my own, should something like that ever befall me. I could only hope God would grant the strength to see me through, because I know only God's strength could see anyone though that.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Perplexing Punctuation

Final comma in a list...use it, or don't use it?



I've always used it, as I think it adds clarity. Others rarely or never use it. I believe I've read somewhere that both are correct, but the latter (omitting it) is preferred.

Just not by me.



Thoughts?

Friday, June 08, 2007

One of the Best Bands You've Never Heard Of

To help Kim out in her search for good music

I'm referring to Eden's Edge. They're a local talent--Arkies--and their music is a mix of folk, bluegrass, and southern gospel.

If you'd like to take a listen, you can listen to 2 minute samples of the latest album here (or dial-up here). You can also hear full versions of select songs from their web page. Let me warn you--once you've heard the appetizer, you'll want the main course.

Your Holiness and In Christ Alone are worth the price of the album. Beats secular pomo-istic schlock and most "mainstream" Christian music by a country mile.

Here's a line from In Christ Alone

Don't measure me by battles won
Or some good deed that I have done
In Christ alone will I be found
Worthy of that golden crown


I only have Lights of Home, but their first album is available as well, and you can buy both for a "special internet deal" from their website.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Best Dad Ever" Contest ends this Friday at midnight

If you haven't already done so, write up something nominating your dad for the "Best Dad Ever" contest, sponsored by my friend Carla. Free t-shirt for the winner, plus you should do it to show your dad how much you love him.

I haven't done mine, yet, but I'm hoping to get it done.

More details here.

Classic Purgatorio: the ESV "To Do" Bible



This is a classic: the ESV "To Do" Bible. Sadly, there are people out there who really read the Bible this way.

Monday, June 04, 2007

More Than Just Complaining

Last week I was reading Centuri0n's post that mentioned a guy from Slate magazine who has been reading the Old Testament and putting up his reactions. I read the Slate article about Proverbs, where he thought some things were good advice, other stuff was outdated or he just outright rejected, and I was complaining that his whole series was "an exercise in missing the point."

One of the other commentors said this:
"I've been reading the whole series and found it to give great insight into the way educated but unspiritual people view scripture. But, praise God, at least he's doing something most don't--reading and engaging the text. Can you imagine how dynamic our churches would become if they did as much with born-again minds?"


I would venture to say that the problem is at least two-fold:
1) People don't study their Bibles (many don't read them, either), so they don't really have a clue about what it teaches
2) Churches themselves are moving away from teaching the Bible, and opting for other things instead, which undermines the authority of Scripture

There's a church here locally that was founded on the premise that "the reason unchurched people don't go to church is that it's boring and irrelevant." And I'm willing to say that there may be some people who don't go to church for that reason (although that's an excuse many Christians use as well). I don't think it's the only reason, but let's say for the sake of argument that is at least some of the problem.

If you're not careful, though, the design of your church service can present the idea that it is the Bible is boring and irrelevant. Pretty soon, you've got a church that is nothing more than a cross between a motivational seminar and a country club--all about self-help and activities, about being "winners," and never about sin, holiness, and glorifying God. (That church was the catalyst for this post.)

Here's the thing: we can have strong feelings and legitimate disagreements on what church should look like, but if we lose our foundation, nothing else matters. If we don't remain committed to Scripture as the basis of our faith, then everything becomes merely someone's opinion.

In the meantime, the commentor on Cent's post went on to encourage us to e-mail feedback to this guy and to pray for him, and I felt bad--really bad, because he was right, and that's what I should have been doing. Same thing with the pastor here locally.

So that's what I'm going to focus on--doing something more than just complaining.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

MLB Gameday Audio

Probably the best bargain out there amongst sports audio.

You get a year's worth of live Major League Baseball games. Every game is available with your choice of the home or away radio station's announcers (plus alternate audio for teams like the Diamondbacks who also broadcast in Spanish). If that wasn't enough, you can also listen to past games in the archive.

A whole year is just $15. MLB.com has other subscription choices as well, but if you like listening to baseball, this is a no-brainer.

Update: in case anyone cares, it looks like the internet broadcast is approximately 45 seconds behind the radio broadcast. Also, as best I can tell, not only can you access 2007 game archives, but 2006 as well.

Note to the NBA: you need to start doing this! I'd love to listen to Al McCoy broadcast the Phoenix Suns games. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is a fan of the broadcasters as well as the teams.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Memorial Day always reminds me of this line that we used to sing from The Battle Hymn of the Republic:
As He died to make men holy,
let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Turns out that wasn't the original wording. But still apropos, particularly for those who are working for the Kingdom.

Here's the full set of lyrics, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.


I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

Chorus

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on."

Chorus

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Chorus

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Chorus

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sickness stinks!

Last week it was dealing with Mrs. G's tooth extraction. This week: sick kids! I hate it when life interferes like this.

I heard someone tell a story one time about a 90-something year old lady who hadn't missed a day of church her entire life. She must not have had kids.

Hope your Lord's Day was profitable. Go enjoy a few hymns at Rebecca's place.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hitchens/Wilson Debate on Christianity Today

Christianity Today is sponsoring a debate between between Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson. Here are the links so far:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Has anyone been following this debate? If so, I'm curious what your take is.

If I were Hitchens, the last person on earth I'd want to debate over the internet would be Doug Wilson. Pastor Wilson is smart, he's wry, and the way he writes appeals to the younger generation--much in the same way I think Hitchens stuff appeals to those of no-faith. If I were him, I'd be afraid of losing my target audience.

I also wouldn't use Scripture to prove my point. His attempt to explain the Good Samaritan as a nice, moral story that tells us to love each other was lame. Truly an exercise in missing the point. But frankly, even if he was good with Scripture, again, it's Doug Wilson we're talking about here. I disagree with some of his theology, but the guy sure knows his Bible.

Finally, I know of at least one person from the other side who thinks "the question is lame." Maybe he's right. I find myself wondering what question would be better to demonstrate the unerring brilliance and clear-headed rational thinking of the atheist camp. If I find out, I'll let you know.

In the meantime, since the atheist folks put such a premium on rationality, I keep wondering what evidence atheism has to back up its claim. Does it really hold together as a system? But maybe I'm expecting too much by looking for a coherent system. My friend the atheist puts it this way:
No-one... and I mean no-one... (even Chris) is claiming atheism (the non-belief in gods) provides any "rational basis" for anything other than not believing in gods.
That clears everything up.

Update: Here are all the links:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Marin Luther on True Righteousness

Inspired by Ms. Upward Call (that's Mrs. Buggy to you, Mister!), I'm posting my own "dead theologian" quote. This is Martin Luther, taken from his commentary on Romans, specifically Chapter 1.

Because of our natural and spiritual gifts, men may regard us as wise, righteous and good. But God does not regard us as such, especially not if we so esteem ourselves. We therefore must reamin so humble, as if we as yet had nothing, but were still waiting for the tender mercies of God, who for Christ's sake regards us as wise and righteous. There are many who indeed for God's sake, regard temporal blessings as nothing and gladly renounce them, as, for example, Jews and heretics. But there are very few who regard also their spiritual gifts and good works as nothing, seeking to obtain only the righteousness of Christ. Of this Jews and heretics are incapable, though without this no one can be saved. They invariable desire and hope that their own {righteousness} will be esteemed and rewarded by God. But His verdict forever stands: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Rom 9:16).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Soundbite: Could This Be Our Next President?

Forget about the Republican debate. This is what you should watch. Kinda makes you wonder--we did pretty well with an actor the last time...

Monday, May 14, 2007

I Saw The Light

Saul's sovereign salvation

By Gummby

You can squeeze this in as part 6b of the Light series. Other parts can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

As I read Buggy's Light of the World post, I felt like I wanted to expand on this wonderful story of Saul's salvation. By God's grace and sovereignty, we studied this very passage recently in church.

I want to focus here on who God saved. If there was ever a person we could look at in Scripture and say,"Yep, that guy is beyond saving" by judging their outward appearance, Saul would be our guy. He's just finished watching (or perhaps even presiding over) the stoning of Stephen, and his zeal for his religion is so great that he goes to the Chief Priests to get letters to follow these accursed followers of "the Way" even into foreign cities, so that they may be brought back and held accountable for their crimes. Their blasphemy against the one, holy God, whom they mock by following this imposter Jesus.

So when did God save Saul? Was it as Saul started moving in the right direction? Nope. Notice Acts 9:1: "But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord..." There was no indication that he would turn around anytime soon.

This is just like God. He saves us while we are still turned completely away from Him. It starts while we were yet sinners.

There may be some reading this who have been witnessing to someone and felt that that person was "too far gone;" although you know God could save him, you might doubt in your heart that He would ever do so.

But if there ever was such a person, at least in Scripture's accounts, surely Saul was that person. Yet God was pleased to save him in His own time. So I hope this will serve as an encouragement and a reminder that no matter what we see on the outside, there is never anyone who is too far from God to be saved. There is never anyone who might not turn from darkness and into His glorious light.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day


Here's a family picture--my kids, my brother's kids, my brother and his wife, my wife's parents, my parents (sorry, for leaving you guys out before, Mom!), and my wife and I. Unfortunately we're missing my sister & her husband (Aunt Jennie & Uncle Rob as they are known around here), as well as the grandparents, but this covers more of the family than just about any picture I have.

Want some free Science Fiction?

Not sure how long this will last, but Fictionwise is offering free downloads of short stories nominated for this year's Nebula ballot (the Nebula awards are this weekend). You have to sign up for an account, but with the multi-reader options, there ought to be at least one format that everyone can read.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Seven Random Things

Cent meme-tagged me, and it is so rare these days to get something like this (as well as being able to carve out time to write it), that I was happy to do it.

Here are the rules:
Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog! I think it's way more fun to leave it open, 'cause who knows when they'll read it. Besides, it's pretty lame to tag people with a meme to get them to read your blog.


1. I would like to write a book one day, but I'm a slow writer. My average writing time per (non-fluffy) post is prolly about 2 hours. My only hope to get something done may be NaNoWriMo.

2. Bugblaster, Simon the slightly agnostic Atheist (link omitted), and I all have the same IQ score.

3. I was a licensed Private Invstigator in the state of Arizona for about two years.

4. At various times in my career, I have considered becoming a lawyer, a day trader, a university professor, and a pastor.

5. On at least two occasions that I can remember, I have held over a million dollars in my hands. Check, not cash. But still.

6. My only futures market trade was in the dreadful (and now defunct) ISDEX futures; it had no liquidity, and looking back, I was most likely picked off by the market maker sitting down there on the KCBT.

7. It is very unusual for me to be reading less than three books at the same time (though not all at once--I'm not Al Mohler, after all). Perhpas this is why I'm the only one I can think of who will take longer to read Stephen Charnock's Existence and Attributes of God than Kim.

I don't think there are 7 people left in the Blogosphere who haven't done this. Nevertheless, I'll give it a try.

Dude
Hemsch
Nate the Great
RevGoT
The Main Family
DNA Dude
Rebecca of the Yukon (who probably doesn't do memes, but I just gotta try. Just think of it: 7 random things from one of the most deliberate bloggers in the 'sphere--how could you not want to see that?)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What About Sin?

I'm suspicious of big churches.

It may be simple cynicism, but I have to guess it's pretty hard to get 5,000 people into a single building by telling them they are sinners who need to be saved by God. There are exceptions to this. But I think it's worth looking into.

Today I'm considering a local church whose pastor does lots of radio spots. Every single one of them are full of friendly music and nice words about (presumably) what God wants for your life and how welcome you are at his church. I say "presumably" because I can't actually remember a spot where he talks about God.

Anyway, this gentleman is also a book writer, and his most recent book is geared toward men--showing them how to win. At what? At life, I guess. I don't know.

I went to the website for the church, and they have the typical statement of faith and beliefs--nothing I would look at and say "woah, big fella--we need to talk." In fact, it sounds like a pretty ok place--trying to bring the Jesus of Scriptures to people where they are.

And let's face it, if there is one thing that a lot of good churches don't do very well, it's welcome people where they are. I think we've somehow arrived at this notion that people need to be somewhat together before they get together with God, and we seem to lose track of the reality that broken people will have busted up lives.

We need to extend our grace and love to them while at the same time reserving our judgement for our own lives. We need to stop expecting sinners to act like saints, and realize that sometimes those who have it together externally are by far the worst off, because they don't recognize their need for a savior. Or, to quote Jesus,"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32, ESV).

That said, I still have a problem with Mr. Motivational's church. I'll admit that it took me awhile to boil it down. It's actually kinda subtle--and I probably wouldn't have found it if I hadn't gone to website knowing what I know about this guy. The problem is this: there's no "sin" anywhere.

Oh, yeah, it's in the statement of faith mentioned above, but when you look at the actual messages, it's pretty hard to find. (I would say impossible, but maybe I just didn't look hard enough).

Trying to give them a fair (if somewhat biased) shake, I went to the blog of the pastor and his two associates. Between the three, I found lots of sports anecdotes, motivational statements about being or becoming a winner, blurbs on leadership, and a list of the top 5 hamburger places in Little Rock, but only 1 reference to sin, and none to holiness. (I tested my own blog with the same search, BTW, and I only got 2 references to holiness--the last one was in May of 2006--yikes!).

In the history section of the website, it says the church was founded because the head pastor found other churches "boring and irrelevant." I got no problem with that. The problem is that the Gospel is neither boring or irrelevant. How could it be, except to those who don't understand what sin is, and why it is so bad. Who don't understand the message that they are saved from the sin that so dominated their lives that they were prisoners with no hope of escape.

What has my brief jaunt yielded? Just this: if a church never spends time talking about God's justice and man's sin, and people never grasp God's holiness, then they have a skewed view of God. Before too long "sin" becomes a meaningless word--it means addictions, imperfections, mistakes--anything you want it to mean but never what God says it means: "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4, ESV).

God doesn't want us to be "winners;" He wants us to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, which will more than likely make most of us losers--as if we weren't already. But God loves losers, because it is through them that He is most glorified. Why? So that no flesh might boast in the presence of God," but that "he who boasts would boast in the Lord," Jesus Christ our savior. (1 Cor 1:29, 31)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Too Funny Not To Share

I don't usually link to stuff at YouTube. I have neither the time nor inclination to sift through the rubbish to find the gems. I usually only go there when I receive the link from someone else. This clip is no exception.

The basic premise is that they are taking a new minivan and "momming" it, a take-off to that show which I won't name because this is a family blog.

For those with kids, especially young ones, make sure you set aside all beverages before watching this. You've been warned.

I must admit to being a bit bewildered by the Zima sponsorship. Perhaps the message is that after having your brand new van "mommed," you'd probably want a Zima (or four) to take the edge off.

Anyway, here's Mom My Ride.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Light of the World

by bugblaster

I started this series on light here at Still Reforming on January 18, but never finished it. In typically lazy fashion I've since reposted the first five of seven at my own blog to avoid writing something new, but finally worked up the wherewithal to do number six. There is no telling when seven may be delivered, but here is six, simulcast on Chez Kneel and Still Reforming.

This is part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 on the subject of Light
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
--- John 8:12

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”
--- Matthew 5:14,15

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
--- John 12:35-36

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
--- John 12:44-46

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
--- Luke 2:29-32

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
--- Matthew 4:12-16

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
--- Matthew 17:1-2
In Acts 22, Galatians 1 and Acts 26, we hear from Paul’s own mouth the story of his conversion, starting of course with what came before…

First off, the former Pharisee formerly known as Saul was brilliant. He’s not shy about it, but neither is he groundlessly bragging. It’s just a fact. He exceeded all his peers in his studies. He learned at the feet of a master, and throws Gamaliel’s name around as if it isn’t really that impressive to himself, but knowing that it certainly is impressive to his listeners. Saul was an up and comer who upped, came, and kept on going.

Saul was a Pharisee of Pharisees, and he probably wouldn’t have been your best friend if you were a weebly-wobbly sort of Pharisee. Saul was the real deal, and he held your feet to the fire if you went apostate from the true Jewish faith, which was after all, the Pharisee manifestation of that faith. He was sort of like the Military Police of the Pharisees. His zeal for God was famous, and Christ-followers quaked at his approach. They did well to quake, because Saul would rather see them dead than continue in the Way of Christ. Hey, he had even held the coats of the mob that executed Stephen, so that they wouldn’t have to put on dusty jackets after they had smashed Stephen’s head in with rocks. What a considerate fellow!

In his own words, Saul acted violently.

Saul was traveling to Damascus in order to arrest male and female followers of Christ, imprison them, attempt to force them to recant, bring them back home in chains, and if necessary cast his vote for their execution. Saul was ruthless and relentless. He was a robocop. Saul was the embodiment of the wrath of God, or so he believed.

We despair to see Saul in our world today. Saul is everywhere. Yes, we have pharisaicism of a sort in our churches today (we call it legalism), but those aren’t Sauls. Think of your stoniest worstest new-law-imposing legalist name-of-Christian-wearer, and you won’t have a Saul. You see, Christianity is the way. Jesus said that He is the Light of the world. Jesus said that his followers are the light of the world. Not a light, but the light. True Christianity stands square in the circle of the only light that there is, but un-Christianity and anti-Christianity and post-Christianity stagger unawares in darkness. Saul was not a legalist Christian. No! Saul was anti-Christian. Saul was anti-Christ. Saul was in the dark, and he had no desire to approach the Light. He only wanted to quench it.

There are Sauls in our world today that are offended by the cross of Christ, and by the notion that it was necessary because of their sin. There are Sauls in our world today that are outraged at the stance against sin taken by Christ and by his true followers. There are Sauls in our world today that are quite simply against Christian beliefs and against Christ. There are Sauls in our world today that are prepared to make it their mission to impede the spread of the Gospel, and to fight against it. There are Sauls in our world today that ridicule or persecute the followers of Christ. There are Sauls in our world today that are prepared to impose forced recantation. There are Sauls in our world today that are prepared to injure, imprison, torture and yes, dance for joy at the murder of Christians. Some places afford these Sauls the circumstance and opportunity to follow their path to its chosen end. Some places don’t allow them that full opportunity. Yet.

Necati Aydin, Tilman Geske, and Ugar Yuksel encountered five well-developed Sauls in Malatya, Turkey on Resurrection Sunday (eastern dating) April 18, 2007.

But back to the road…without warning, as unexpected as any intervention could be, God changes Saul from the outside. God chooses and changes. God shines the light and banishes the darkness.
In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
--- Acts 26:12,13
"...a light from heaven, brighter than the sun…" That’s pretty bright, isn’t it? Set yourself on that road for a moment. There is none of the noise and bustle associated with our highways, just a grim group of men walking north in the silence and heat. Then, at the height of the day, when the searing middle eastern sun is almost directly overhead, the blindingly bright sun is suddenly only second best. A light that radiates more intensely than the sun is shining on you from above. Never before seen! What is your reaction?
And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” And I said, “Who are you, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
--- Acts 26:14,15
You’re not stupid. This can only be from and of God. Jesus, the very person that you revile, is the source of a light brighter than the sun. The people that you have been persecuting are his followers. They are on the side of light, which means of course that you are on the side of dark, and always have been. God Himself is saying that when you persecute his followers, you persecute Him. You’ve been trying to injure the God of the universe! The zealous hateful cause to which you have devoted your existence has been all wrong, and your lifetime of study in what you thought was wisdom has merely been one long fool’s errand. It seems clear that the gavel will now fall, and that you are about to experience the wrath of God in person, and that not through a self-appointed proxy. How do you feel at this moment?
“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles--to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
--- Acts 26:16-18
God does not give the prostrate Saul much time to absorb the shock, nausea, remorse, regret and raw terror that surely must have been racking and washing over him. God does not give Saul time to consider whether he would like to choose to follow this light. No, as we said earlier, God did the choosing. “But rise and stand upon your feet…” God didn’t ask. God commanded.

God changed Saul into the man that we know as Paul. Saul had nothing to do with the transformation. He already knew the details of the Gospel, and had already rejected Christ repeatedly. Saul had already heard Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7, but instead of choosing light, he had embraced dark and decided to cheerlead a murder. On his own, Saul did not and would not come to truth. But God brought the light to Saul and enveloped him in it. Then He chased away the darkness, and matter of factly told Paul that Jesus was his new master.

Why was God sending Paul on a new life mission?

Answer: “…to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

To open the eyes of those in darkness, so that they can see the light, so that they can turn from the gloom to the glory, so that they can flee Satan and abide in Christ, and so that they can be justified by faith and rest with the righteous forever. In short, to preach the Gospel, to be another manifestation of the Light of the World, instead of just another dark and violent Saul.

This is what we should take from Malatya. God is not surprised by those events, and from days of old He planned them for his glory and our good. The Protestant Church of Smyrna did not ask us to pray for success in the war on terror, but they did ask that we pray for the church in Turkey, and that we pray for the five Sauls that murdered the martyrs. Remember, good came out of the stoning of Stephen, because God meant it for good.

We were all Sauls. That but for God’s grace would I be.

Reflect the Light of the world to the world today, okay?

Monday, April 30, 2007

In Search of Modesty

I was reading Kim Shay's lament about the overall lack of modesty in society, and I was reminded of Carla Rolfe's post from last year entitled "Dressing Girls." In it, she uses the phrase "Welcome to SkankWorld." My wife and I still talk about that one when we are together at any store that carries clothes.

Modesty is a difficult thing, to be sure. Because it is open to interpretation, it feels subjective. There is also the possibility that people will fail to recognize that the Bible has relevance here, even without a verse that reads "Don't let your skirt come up past your knees," etc.

The Way of the Master radio podcast had an episode recently where they gave a modesty quiz. The quiz originated from the Family Life folks (who are actually out of Arkansas), and their stuff is good. It sounds like something that might be helpful, or at least encouraging, for those who are searching for ways to instill modesty in their children.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

From VA Tech

I've been wrestling with so many feelings about the Virginia Tech shootings, so much so that I've been unable to express myself. This came across the e-mail today, and it struck a cord with me--because of its poignancy and because of where it came from. This is from someone who lost a loved one in the shootings. And if we can't trust God through difficult times, we might as well not trust Him at all.


God is still on His throne. When Satan brings the worse out in some people God brings the best out in His people. The Blacksburg Baptist Church bent over backwards to minister to my family last week and from what I can gather they were actively involved in ministering to the entire Blacksburg Community. [Her] funeral was held at Blacksburg Baptist Church last Saturday, April 21. It was a testimony to the life she had lived. We celebrated her life and goodness even as we mourned our loss. I worshipped at Blacksburg Baptist the following Sunday morning. I listened intently as Pastor Tommy McDearis engaged his congregation with the heaviness and tragedy of the week but also with the truth of the scriptures. It was one of the finest sermons I have ever heard.

Pastor McDearis serves as the chaplain for the Blacksburg police department. As such he was probably closer to the actual carnage of the week than most of us ever want to know. Of the 32 victims it became his personal responsibility to tell 20 of the families that their loved one had died. He had seen the pain in their faces, their tears had fallen upon his lapel, he had searched for words, but probably the best he could come up with was "I am sorry." He had ministered to law enforcement personnel, he had fielded questions from the media, he preached my niece’s funeral. With very little sleep he kept putting one foot ahead of the other. Then on Sunday morning his congregation gathered with questions on their mind needing a word from the Lord. This man of God stood and opened his soul to his people. He captured the truth of the scriptures and gave his people, his town, and visitors of many stripes a fresh word from God. I was at the 11:10 service which was the third worship service. As he closed this service he let out a deep breath and simply prayed “Lord, I am so tired”. He wept as he prayed for himself, his congregation, and his city. As I listened I thought - Here is a man who has spent the week walking through the Valley of the Shadow of death, he had looked into the face of evil and peered into the pit of Hell itself – but through it all God’s hand had been upon him. That is a testimony to the power and strength of God. Satan had played his awful hand planting terror into the hearts and minds of all who watched. Darkness came but God’s light still shone through. Sunday morning came – God took a tired messenger and gave him a message of hope, strength, and encouragement.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, what a savior!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Outta' Town

I'm fixin' to go out of town for a bit. In my absence, there will probably be no posting on my blog. However, if you're a regular reader of my blog, I doubt this will phase you, since there hasn't been any regular posting on my blog for awhile now.

Oh, and please note my newest profile picture. Inspired by Libbie's avatar choice, I've selected a picture of one of the greatest sidekicks around--K-9.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It Is the Best of Times, It Is the Worst of Times

This came up in a lunch conversation yesterday, and I thought it was worth sharing.

If you are a believer, whatever is going on today, it is temporary. A "slight momentary affliction" that is "preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison," according to the Apostle Paul (2 Cor 4:17). And so no matter how bad it is, whatever you are going through right now is transient. And even the best of Earth pales beside the promise of things to come.

For the unbeliever, it's the opposite. If you are not a follower of Christ, what you see at this moment is as good as it gets. "That can't be true," you might say. "If only you knew my circumstances--they are horrible!"

I believe that. And I believe that you think things couldn't get any worse. But the reality is this: God is restraining his wrath, and any "evil" you experience now will pale beside His full fury poured out against sinners. Against you.

You have rejected God; you have broken His perfect law. And because of the resultant offense against His person, your only hope of abating His anger is to admit your sin and unbelief, and repent (that is, turn away) from your sin, accepting God's grace expressed through the death of His son Jesus, who died to pay the penalty for your sins.

Or pay the penalty yourself one day, very soon.

"It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment..." (Heb 9:27). This life is but a breath, and is the best of times for those who die in unbelief. But for those who believe, the worst of times are now, and the best is yet to come.


All Bible quotes from the ESV

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Easter!

Hard to believe that it's been a year since the so-called "War on Easter."

Not sure what the status is this year (though from a quick scan of blogs it seems this year's war is against the bunny, not the Savior), but the truth of the matter is, Satan is running his campaign all year long. And his war is a lot more subtle (not to mention effective) than a bunch of atheists with far-fetched conspiracy theories about Jesus' non-existence.

Here's an example. Yesterday I received an e-mail from eReader.com with their weekly specials. They always include a little "Did you know"-type trivia in it, and one of the sidebars for this week said this.

In Norway, in addition to skiing in the mountains and painting eggs for decorating, it is tradition to solve murders at Easter. All the major television channels show crime and detective stories, magazines print stories where the readers can try to figure out who did it, and many new books are published.


It's a demon's dream come true to have people "celebrating Easter" without knowing or acknowledging its true meaning. But let's be frank--putting on your best outfit and going to church to hear a message that you don't accept is no better than solving mysteries, hunting for eggs, or joining up with some kooks out there to try to prove Jesus never existed. Lost is lost, and Satan will take people however he can get them.

But this isn't a rant against Norwegians, egg hunts, or Easter traditions in general. I just want to point out that whatever else we do to celebrate Easter, we need to keep the message of the gospel front and center.

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31, ESV)

Let's welcome sinners into our congregations. Use this Sunday as an opportunity to reach out to someone who may only come to church once or twice a year.

Happy Easter!