Little less climactic than I had anticipated

So... just thought I'd update you. Standing around. Using the computer in the Hospital where the internet stinks. It takes me almost 10 minutes to load rdtwot... and yea Nick, I waited that long just so I could comment.

Strangely blogger seems to load almost immediately... hmm....

But soon enough I'll be a dad. Exciting. Just you know... slow.

New baby tomorrow morning

Well, she just wont come out! So tomorrow morning at 5am we'll be inducing labor to bring our little baby girl out into this world. If you think of it, send a prayer our way that everything will go smoothly. I'll keep you posted.

Eternal investments, dividing your merchandise (Ecclesiastes 11:2)

"Divide your merchandise among seven or even eight investments, for you do not know what calamity may happen on earth." - Ecclesiastes 11:2

I've heard this verse is occasionally interpreted to tell us to buy lots of different stocks or mutual funds. To spread our money broadly in bonds and things. But this isn't what I think it means.

"What calamity may happen on earth," seems much more to me a reference the fact that any earthly investment may not be worth your while. I'm not saying this to mean we shouldn't invest, I strongly think providing for your future is an important thing. Rather, I think this verse is to remind us of eternal investments.

My favorite investment is in a 25 year old guy who feels called to sports ministry. He worked full time for a church for a while and then asked to leave because he wanted to focus more on sports ministry and didn't feel he could give his whole heart to the church. Now he is helping to lead a ministry which reaches out to Middle School students through baseball and soccer.

I love supporting this guy in his ministry because he is so on fire for the Lord and a much more gifted evangelist than I am. One of my favorite things is having lunch with this guy and listening to how the Lord is using him. This is an eternal investment. And I hope to give to seven or eight such investments.

Are you making an eternal investment? If something happens to your stocks and your investments in this world, will you have an investment elsewhere? Eternally? Sow broadly.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Eccl 9:10a)

When I read this verse I remembered a quote from "The Last Samurai" where Tom Cruise is talking about the people in Japan who have taken him in. He looks around an unbelievably serene landscape and while the film shows people sword fighting and pour tea he says, "From the moment they wake, they devote themselves to perfection of whatever they do." I first would like to say that Japan back then did not have flushing toilets and was probably a WHOLE lot dirtier than the movie gave it credit. But, apart from that, its significant to notice just how moved Tom Cruise's character is by this.

There is something absolutely attractive about people who pursue perfection in all they do. Someone who cares enough to pour their tea just right, stand up perfectly straight(something I know to be hard because of recent back problems and the doctors orders to do so), and take every step as if it is of great significance.

In my life there are certain investments I'm willing to make. I am in seminary (by distance) and I hope in about seven years to finish a degree of some worth. I am willing to read things that build me up, to exercise for the health of my body. But I also don't mind slouching if it's comfortable. I will occasionally skip time with the Lord in the morning for an extra half hour of sleep.

What does it mean to put our hand to whatever we do with all our might? What does it look like to cheer on the Broncos with all your might? To love your wife with all your might? To seek the Lord and read his word with all your might?

We have to do what we do to our utmost and there will be a return.
"Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return." - Ecclesiastes 11:1 (TNIV)

Why does laziness seem to be bred into us? We are a generation of half-hearted workers. If you could pick one thing to start focusing on doing with all your might what would you pick?

Is John 7:53-8:11 even scripture? (YES!)

A little while back I discovered Tim Ricchuiti's Blog "if i were a bell i'd ring" and have been impressed by a number of things. First of all he posts frequently and most of his posts are of good substance. I desire to write a blog with mostly original content as I develop a taste for teaching and discover where my interests lie, and his blog is inspiring to me in such ways.

I have, in fact, enjoyed it enough that I've gone ahead and added him to my blogroll. Keep writing Tim.

That said, I apparently sparked off a much larger discussion than I had intended with my post in response to a Christianity Today Is John 7:53-8:11 even scripture? I have to thank him for doing a lot of the research that I attempted to do and gave up on. But I also have a few things to respond to in his very well written post The Pericope Adulterae and the Canon of the New Testament.

First of all Tim presents his arguments against the Johannine origin of the text which, after some looking into, I have to agree this passage was likely not written by John.

Next I want to get to the issue of canonicity. The criteria I want to use for its validity in the canon is not weather or not its nice, or not weird but this:

Apostolic Origin
Universal Acceptance
Liturgical Use
Consistent Message
(see this)

According to the notes in my NET Bible this passage may very well have had Apostolic Origin. Though there are arguments the language is not Johannine, it still may have been, other evidence points that it may have been written by Luke and even one notable manuscript (f13) attaches it after Luke 21:38 (see NET Bible notes).
We simply do not know if it was or not.

Universal Acceptance/Liturgical Use: For these two criteria Tim points to an argument for a lack of early recognition. But in response to this I point here,
"Until recently, it was not thought that any Greek Church Father had taken note of the passage before the 12th Century; but in 1941 a large collection of the writings of Didymus the Blind (c313- 398) was discovered in Egypt, including a reference to the pericope adulterae as being found in "several gospels"; and it is now considered established that this passage was present in its canonical place in a minority of Greek manuscripts known in Alexandria from the 4th Century onwards."
(the entire wikipedia section on the textual history is quite interesting.)

Finally and I think most interesting is the consistency of the message. The message of this passage seems very much in line with the teachings and character of Jesus. The NET Bible notes this passage could just as easily fit into the context if it was originally here or if it was taken out altogether.

Also, I don't think the Gospel of Thomas is a very good criteria for arguing this point. When I say the Gospel of Thomas is weird, or bizarre I mean its teaching is not consistent with the rest of the Bible. This is the verse which comes to mind:
"Simon Peter said to Him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are
not worthy of Life."
Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her
male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you
males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the
Kingdom of Heaven." - The Gospel of Thomas 114
And seems something more likely for a Mormon view of women than most modern evangelicals(saying that might rain some fire on me) or something out of our Bible.

Finally I would like to say this passage being included or not simply does NOT have a clear cut answer. The NET Bible notes conclude with
"Double brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of John. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation."
Tim makes some compelling arguments and I can understand why someone would believe what he does about this passage. That said, I take the view that while this likely was not written by John, I believe it to be scripture.

In my initial post I was simply stating an opinion, now I have to thank Tim for his help in making that opinion an educated one.

You would have been better off a stillborn (Ecclesiastes 5:19, 6:3)

"Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God." - Ecclesiastes 5:19

The power to enjoy them. My wife is from a wealthy suburb of Houston where we lived for one year right after we were married and then have frequently returned to for short trips or a few month stays. This place is crazy because it is so wealthy and yet bleeds a "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.

If you drive a BMW you're jealous of the neighbor with the H2, and if you drive an H2 you're coveting the neighbor with the Lamborghini. There is house after bigger house and perfectly manicured lawn after perfectly manicured lawn. About 7 out of 10 houses have pools, and NO ONE has enough.

In a mens group with our church I sat around a table and listened to man share about how he really wasn't going to be able to be happy unless he made a little bit more money. Everyone at the table said if he had that attitude he would never have enough. "No no," he said, "I have this number in my head and its twice what I make now and if I could just make that much, it would be enough."

I wonder what he would have said if I would have looked him the eye and told him "You would have been better off a stillborn."

"If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life's good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he." - Ecclesiastes 6:3

Oh that we might be satisfied.

Sunday Scripture Day (Ecclesiastes 5:8-20)

If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.  But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.  

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.  When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?  Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.  

There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt,  and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand.  As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.  This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind?  Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.  Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.  For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

The Lord upholds my hand

"The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;  
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand." - Psalms 37:23-24
This has been one of my favorite verses for a long time because this whole section is about the Lords justice for the good. This verse in particular comforts me. I read that it might also be translated "The Lord grants success to the one who desires to obey His commands."

The Bible does offer a few things to believers before the next life. Though sometimes it seems we're mostly just promised justice at judgement. I like this verse because it comforts me to know that my steps are established by the Lord that or, the Lord blesses those who desire to obey his commands.

The NASB translates the second line as "and He delights in his way." I like to think the Lord delights in my way. Establishing my steps and most importantly when I fall I will not "be cast headlong."

I've mentioned my wife is pregnant. Every day we go for a few walks in an attempt to bring the baby out, and we'll often walk along a path beside a lake. When we're off the main road on the dirt there are rocks and dirt around the path. I hold my wife's hand tighter than normal because I want to be sure if she falls she wont be "hurled headlong."

It's a loving walk we take and knowing the Lord is walking with me, holding my hand in the same manner, watching out for me. He knows that if I walk long enough I will fall, but He'll be there to hold me up, with His hand. Delighting in my every step.

Thank you Lord that you delight in me.

Roger That - theologer button

It occurred to me today that Roger is a pretty rediculous [sic] name. Okay you may have realized this already but today what struck me is if you say something I agree with, I can respond in laude, "Roger That."

So realizing the catchiness of this particular phrase I decided to go ahead and make a button/icon. I don't suspect too many people will add this to their site except out of jest, but jest or not, all publicity is good publicity. I hope in the future I will remember to comment "Roger That, over and out." And please try to act like it's fresh and funny every time you hear it. See the sidebar if you're interested.

The sloth spit out

"Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord." Romans 12:11

Being zealous is never as easy as it should be. When I buy a new Apple product, I am zealous about it for weeks. When I first purchased Crocs I couldn't stop telling people about how I had reached a new level in comfort for my feet. I LOVED my Crocs and I was in awe of them, thrilled to put them on my feet at any time.

When it comes to the Lord, however, I find it more of an ebb and flow. I become slothful in my zeal. That is, I'm zealous for the Lord for a while, often right after I learn something life changing (eg. right after I read Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret), and then I just slow down. Quickly I lose my striving attitude for the spirit and become comfortable in my lukewarm lifestyle.

A few months ago I decided I would begin every morning with a prayer for a desire to seek the Lord because I had lacked it for so long. I was able to do that for about three days and then became incompetent in praying for competence. It is shocking to me how easily I can go through the motions of reading the word and asking for forgiveness, then praying for family and I don't even know if I mean one single word of it because it's so well rehearsed.

I remember a conversation I had over a beer with a friend where he challenged me to pray my head off, and I did, for weeks. Because he was. I need that iron to sharpen my iron. I need those around me who are on fire for the Lord and so many are slothful.

"So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." - Revelation 3:16

This should be part of fear of the Lord leading to my reverent obedience, but more, I just see myself in it and wonder what to do about it. I don't want to be spit out.

What do you do to keep from losing your zeal? I must serve the Lord, not offer Him lip service alone. Where do I find zealous men and women to encourage me? Why is it SO easy to become slothful?

The best thing I've seen in a very long time

In response to Nick Norelli's recent post "The Second Worst Thing I’ve Ever Heard or Seen."

I had to post this as the best thing I've seen in a very long time.

Check out the whole site, there is a reason why this is on wordpress as one of the fastest growing blogs.

Rock on (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)

"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?" - Ecclesiastes 2:24-25
There are a lot of things out there which bring people joy. For me there is Taco Bell, Chipotle, a small burrito joint in Colorado called Big City. There is ESPN, Jimmy Eat World, iPhones, Apple Computers, Engadget, tea, sleep, breakfast. You name it, there is a LOT that brings me joy. Some people turn to things like marijuana, or other illegal or sometimes legal-but-sketchy substances.

In fact one of the few legal highs comes naturally through exercise. I am little bit an exercise nut because, as I've mentioned previously, I go mentally off when I don't get endorphins. But I also go through long periods of time where I get lazy and stop working out at all.

This is why God gave us the rocking chair.

You see, there are few things in this world which allow you to legally both sit AND get high. In this case a rocking chair gives you best of both worlds. You can sit WHILE getting your endorphin need met. And due to the versatility of most modern rocking chairs, you can ALSO watch ESPN and drink a beer at the same time.

Now realize this is from the hand of God. For who can eat or find enjoyment apart from God? There are those of you out there who do not believe in my incredible all-loving joy-giving God and you may say "I have found enjoyment." Yes, you have. But fleeting enjoyment. It is only an understanding of where your joy comes from which can give any amount of lasting joy.

We all meet the same end. 100 out of 100 people die. Its true. Scary statistic. But I can assure you that while I'm alive I will be rocking. In a chair. On occasion in front of a TV. With a beer. And a smile. Enjoying the gift of God.

And when I die. I'll sit with God, and we'll rock together. To music, in a chair. High together off of perfect endorphins. Enjoying a glass of wine. And watching the Broncos whoop the Colts in the Uber-Bowl. In our own box seats.

Because joy comes from God. And apart from Him we can experience no lasting joy. So get in your rocking chair, and get high off endorphins. And thank your Creator and the grace He's had on you that you may know Him.

Rock on.

Wisdom wins souls - how you use your skills

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls." - Proverbs 11:30 (NASB)
In discussing the Proverbs we looked at the meaning of wisdom as it is the main topic throughout the book. After looking at several verses this one came up. "He who is wise wins souls." Has this ever occurred to you? My reaction was, "Yea that sounds about right because a wise person would understand the situation and share a gospel more relevant to the hearer than an unwise person."

But this is a mistake because I'm understanding the modern "American Heritage" dictionary definition which says, "The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment."
This is how we would understand wisdom today, whereas a more fitting Biblical definition seems to be (my prof. would argue) "skill in life." Wisdom is often translated skill in our text.

So read this as "He who has skill in life wins souls."
Or as Napoleon Dynamite might say "He wouldn't convert 'cause I don't have any skills, like nun-chuck skills, or drawing skills, or life.... skills."

I have to re-evaluate the role wisdom plays in my evangelism. And re-think seeking wisdom in relation to seeking salvation for friends.

Smart-alecs go biblical; when blind men teach sinners

"They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out." - John 9:34

This whole section (John 9) about the man born blind is awesome for a few reasons. First because Jesus proclaims he was born blind so God may be glorified. Second because Jesus heals a man, he could not see and then he could, this is an AMAZING gift to receive.

Finally I like it because the Pharisees get so worked up over the healing and the man handles it so well. First they call him in to challenge that he was indeed originally blind (because they don't believe). Next they ask how Jesus did and establish clay should not have been made on the sabbath (looking for grounds to call it false). Then they go to the man's family and question them about his vision (they still do not believe) and the final section when they call the man back in is by far the best.

Them: "Give glory to God because this Jesus you talk about is a sinner and therefore should have had no power to heal you"

Man: "What do I care if He's a sinner, all I know is I was in utter darkness and now I see the beauty of the world around. I can walk without a guide, I can see the sun set and rise, I can gaze at the stars and trees whenever I want to!"

Them: "Tell us how he healed you."

Man: "Are you deaf? Have I not already told you? Maybe you need healing in your ears like I had in my eyes. Or maybe you want to become His disciples."

Them: "Don't even associate us with this man. We are disciples of Moses, we know he is great, we know nothing about this Jesus, not even where He came from, he must be a nobody, why would we follow a nobody."

Man: "That is amazing. You are the scribes, the teachers, the wise men, and ya'll have never heard of Him. Yet I was only a blind man and he thought me worthy of knowing Him. Even though you claim He is a nobody He had the power to heal my eyes! God wouldn't heal through Him if He was a sinner. God must have thought Him worthy of some power. No one has ever heard of blind man healed from his blindness and yet Jesus did it. If that's not from God what is? If ya'll don't want to be associated with this man, who DO you want to be associated with?

Them: "Woa there, WE are the the teachers, the scribes, the wise men, and YOU would presume to lecture us?"

And they threw him out....

I love this story because this guy was in their face, calling them morons for not tuning into the power of Jesus and where it must come from. I love when the Lord uses the weak to shame the wise. And this man's personality is something I can totally relate to. He is a biblically famous smart-alec.

*please take my interpretation of the verse with a grain of salt and understand I'm illustrating the situation, not re-translating it.

Is John 7:53-8:11 even scripture?

"A person hearing these words should recognize that they have no authority as authentic words of Jesus," he said. Christians who are reading the story, he said, should give it the same authority as any other unsubstantiated early Christian teaching about Jesus."
- DTS Professor Daniel Wallace on John 7:53-8:11
I read this article over at Christianity Today and was shocked this was the conclusion drawn.

Basically the article is about how, as my ESV puts it, "[The earliest manuscripts do not include John 7:53–8:11]," and how most lay Christians who read this will just assume they were placed in the Bible or accepted by the translators because they have some merit.

Admittedly this is the position I took/take. I assume someone along the lines thought it important enough to be included, and lean towards to the view presented by another professor:
"There is no reason to pull this out," said Craig Evans, a professor at Acadia Divinity School. "Nothing about it says Jesus didn't have this encounter." All of the stories about Jesus began orally — it was a few decades before they were written down — so it is possible that this story just did not get written down until much later, Evans said."
I've heard this section of the scripture be disputed in the past but until I know more about it I assume I'll continue to read this as the words of Christ.

I tend to think when it says "all scripture is breathed out by God," that God had some idea what the Bible ending up in our hands would look like, he knew this would be in, it is compatible with other teachings by Christ and probably should be taken as equal to the rest of the scripture. Take a gander, its not a long article, and quite fascinating.

Edit (4/28/08): This has been carried on here by Tim Ricchuiti, and here by me.

Kids a quiver-full

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.  
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Psalm 127:3-5

Well, it's my wife's birthday today as well as my daughters due date. She's proved that punctuality may not be her forte already. I'm excited to be a daddy. Thrilled. But anxious as can stinking be.

I just thought I'd post before the kid comes to say that now I hope to have a very full quiver. As long as I can afford to feed them I want to keep having them. That said, this will be my first child and depending on her temperament I may stick with this idea or give up on one. Who knows.

I have met a ton of people in my father's generation who say their one regret is they didn't have more children. I don't want that regret, and I know a child is a HUGE blessing from the Lord. In the OT there seemed to be two blessings, water (this is all over), and children. I don't live in a place where I'm ever at want for water, but children are not yet as automatic and I still see life, offspring as an unfathomable blessing from the Lord.

Just a heads up, if our little girl comes anytime soon I'll probably be absent for a day or two, but its a good excuse.

One drunk-minded, comfort loving, awkward evangelist, wondering about his ministry

"As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4:5

Sober-minded is the first struggle for me. I have to work out six days a week to keep even mildly sober-minded, and if I don't for just a few days I go a little nutty. I start freaking out over little things and getting carried away in my head, its pretty weird. Its almost like I'm chemically unbalanced without exercise, that or I'm addicted to endorphins.

I know for a fact that I poorly endure suffering. My favorite things in the world are soft carpet, big couches, and hot tubs, because they spell out comfort. My freezing cold floors and the lack of ever seeing a sun is often suffering enough for me, and frequently more than I can handle.

Next, doing the work of an evangelist is one of my favorite things in the whole world and also one of the most unnatural for me. I don't understand why either. I'm extremely outgoing and have zero problem striking up conversation or talking with people about the Lord, but when it comes to getting to the gospel I have yet to make it natural. I try, and I'm a firm believer that everyone should do evangelism because I find I really realize the weight of my salvation when I'm sharing with someone else.

Fulfilling my ministry is hard simply because it's hard to know what exactly you're called to. This blog is actually one of those things. I feel like I'm supposed to teach someday and so I'm using this as a medium to sort out the things I'm interested in teaching, and to keep up my writing.

Paul's challenge to Timothy was a big one. Could you have lived up?

Design advice... 3 columns?

So I'm having a hard time deciding. I don't know if I'm just obsessed with change or what. I like the three column view and just made the changes but my wife says she's not a fan. I'm curious what ya'll think. Here is a picture of what this site could look like. Do you have a preference? Too busy? I happen to like busy... do you?

I like that the three column has a lot of information right up front (you don't have to scroll to see a lot). This makes my archives easier to see and access, as well as moves the blog-roll up on the page. Thoughts?

Click for full size view.

Yahweh is Baal

For class I'm reading The Faith of Israel by William J. Dumbrell and in his section on the book of Kings he sort of passively says this:

"Elijah throws down the gauntlet, and the issue of Yahweh or Baal (a choice which may well have puzzled the average Isrelite, who seemed to have identified Yahweh with Baal) is settled on mount Carmet [1 Kings 18]" p97.

I stopped in my reading and thought, "WHAT? Israelites got Baal and Yahweh confused?" Which apparently was true simply because Baal simply meant master or Lord. In 1 Chronicles 12:5 we even find a name Baalia (or Be`aliah) which apparently means "Yahweh is Baal" (see this or this for reference).

This made me wonder if I ever get God confused with an idol. I'm sure something could be said about catholic worship of/prayer to the Virgin Mary or people who end up eventually worshiping the cross or a picture of Jesus rather than Jesus himself. But I cant come up with any concrete ideas myself, which scares me because I bet it is something I do.

I do remember meeting a guy who told me he thought music was God and then claimed he worshiped God when he played music because by making music he was creating God. It was something confusing and convoluted like that, but I suppose that would fall into the same category.

Anyhow, I mostly just wanted to point this out because it was a shock to me to hear God was ever confused with a false God, and the Israelites see a sharp contrast real quick when Elijah calls down fire from heaven and Baal does nothing. I hope there are things in our life which clear up to us who God is vs. who we think God is.

Live like He will come back today (part 2)

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
- Matthew 24:45-51

Now this is the part that scares me. It's not only hard to live like Christ will be returning soon, its also dangerous if we don't. It doesn't even say "the master" will be angry but it says he will "cut him in pieces." I think this appropriately scares me.

But what does it look like to live like we're ready for Him to return? What do we change in our lives? If I knew the Lord was coming back this weekend I would legitimately get ahold of everyone I know and I love who isn't a believe and be begging them to reconsider their faith. I would not care if they never wanted to see me again. I would not care if I was suddenly considered crazy and was a plight to my neighbors. I would not care because their eternal life would be decided within the week.

How can we live like that when it's likely that we have a few more years? It's likely we can pray for our friends for years and set a model with our lives which they'll desire to imitate. It's likely some of our friends who we've shared with before will become believers before they die or the Lord returns.

How do we live with what we're ordered to do, and what the reality seems to be? What about your life should and can legitimately change in light of the immanent second coming?

Dirt Cheap NET Bible first edition

I've used the NET Bible a little bit on my computer and been impressed with it's notes. Keep in mind almost all of the notes are about translation and little is said along the lines of interpretation like a study bible might do. But this morning inspired by a post on A 'goula Blogger and by my previous usage I snagged a copy of the $100 first edition for only $20 slightly used on amazon.'

Estimated ship date for this item: April 22, 2008 - April 23, 2008
The Net Bible, First Edition: A New Approach to Translation, Thoroughly Documented with 60,932 Notes By The Translators and Editors - NA
$20.00 - Quantity: 1 - In Stock
Condition: used
Sold by: Boulder Books

Head over to Amazon and see if there are any left at this ridiculous price. SWEET.

Live like He will come back today (part 1)

"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
- Matthew 24:42-44

For me there is a bit of a dilemma regarding the return of Christ. I know that we're told to be to ready for His return. I want to be ready but I also feel like He told them it would be soon and its been 2000 years, how can I live like it will be soon if it might be a few more thousands of years? But I know it could also be tomorrow, in my heart I just don't really believe it though.

I imagine this is like the master of the house going 2000 years without a break-in and then becoming complacent about his home security. That's what I've done.

The other thing is I feel if I get all caught up in the second coming then I'm being like a dispensationalist. They always seem really caught up in the Lord returning and with Israel being a nation now they think it really could be within the next 5-20 years. While I disagree with the theology, they may find it easier to live expecting the Lord to return because according to their thinking it must be immanent.

How do we live like the Lord will return any time when we're told to, but it just doesn't stinkin' feel like He will while we're still alive?

Sunday Scripture Day (Timothy 2:8-13)

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Heaping burning coals on my enemy's head

"To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.'" - Romans 12:20 & Proverbs 25:21-22

My father worked for the American Embassy as I was growing up and so I lived about four years in the Middle East. The first two years I spent in Amman, Jordan. Now, Amman was an interesting experience because the average arab man is just a total sweetheart. They love you and they want to be your friend. In fact many store owners would give us whatever we wanted for free the first time we went to the store just so we would come back and be happy to see them.

This was, sadly, in sharp contrast to the arab kids I went to school with. Because it was an American school and tuition was around $13,000 per child, everyone that attended that school was either filthy rich or a poor embassy kid.

For two years I was verbally abused all day long by the rich-upper-class-jerky-attidude-local classmates I went to school with. The school was 97% locals and it was a small school, so there were only about three Americans.

Now it was a rough time of my life but I credit it with my turning to the Lord for the first time myself (instead of blindly following my parents faith). And one of the first verses that struck me was this verse in the Proverbs (and quoted in Romans). I remember specifically standing in line for the drinking fountain as a kid behind me was punching me in the back because I was smiling. I was repeating this verse to myself as I stayed calm and tried to remember that revenge is the Lord's. I kept that smile on my face for all I was worth and watched as I hoped the Lord was heaping burning coals upon his head.

Now I quote this because in retrospect I wasn't giving him something to drink or eat, I was taunting him with my smile. I was finding revenge myself in seeing him fume, and it was only years later that I realized this verse is not a verse about revenge, its a verse about love.

"and the LORD will reward you." - Proverbs 25:22b

Steeped in the scripture

"(2)But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.  
(3)He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers." - Psalm 1:2-3

This Psalm, particularly verse 3 is something that has been quoted to me throughout my life. Since I was small my mother has drilled into my head that I'm to be like a tree planted by streams of water. Later in life a mentor of mine picked this verse to pass on to me to send me off. But yesterday for the first time I understood verse 2.

See the man prospers in all he does because he delights in the law of the Lord. He meditates on it day and night. He is steeped in the word and the word becomes the stream that feeds him. The Hebrew here is an irrigation canal, water sent to the tree specifically to water it.

It occurs to me that many things might define my life, my work, the place I live, my friends, perhaps even my love for the Lord, but I don't think that "steeped in the word," or "meditates day and night on the law of the Lord," is yet on the list. And I want it at the top of my list. I want to yield fruit in and out of season. I want to not wither but prosper in all I do. I want to steep myself in the scriptures. After all...

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,"
- 2 Timothy 3:16

I live like the scripture is important, not like it is breathed out by God. But even this verse goes on to say...

"that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." - v17

I want to be competent, equipped for every good work.

Are you steeped in the scripture?

Sunday morning to teach? (part 2)

A little while ago I posted Sunday morning to teach, and since then I have been discussing some things with blogger Nathan Stitt from Disciplulus Scripturae. You can go back and look at the discussion if you'd like. But basically we've been talking about weather sunday morning should be about deeper teaching (mostly meat), or lighter more emotional "go get-em-tiger" teaching (mostly milk). - Meat and milk being Nathan's words.

I think the issue here is that new believers often need to be encouraged at a heart level week by week until they're mature enough to engage more on a head level. I have a lot of friends whom just after becoming believers really needed encouragement that God is good, loves them, cares about them, watches out for their week etc... But it is definitely a fine balance because I think if that person doesn't get grounded mentally quickly enough, they can easily become lax in their new faith.

Now as mature believers don't we expect to get some teaching that edifies us on a Sunday morning? I don't think we are expected to just hunker down and have all the teaching be for the new believers. There must be something edifying to us or it will be hard to keep coming back. Maybe this is why some churches have the "traditional" service first with deeper hymns and deeper teaching followed by "modern" services afterwards with more modern music and lighter teaching...

Is there any easy answer to this? I'm afraid our difficulty in answering it has led to a lot of people leaving the church, or maybe just going emergent... Ideas anyone?

Anointed... with oil

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." James 5:14

When I was in High School my father was a pastor and all of a sudden had a fascination with anointing people with oil. I asked him about it and he said he honestly didn't really understand, he said the only place in the Bible he knew of that mentioned it was just one verse in James. I remember that he kept bottles filled with olive oil in his church office and would anoint people whenever he prayed for them. Mostly just a dab on the forehead or hair, but he told me that occasionally he felt led to dump whole handfuls on people until it was dripping off of them (I hope and assume they weren't wearing suits).

Turns out this word is actually all over (Mar 6:13, Mar 16:1, Luk 7:78... among others).

Well this morning I was studying Psalm 2 for a class I'm taking on the poets. He mentioned in verse 2 where David says,

"The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, ..."

This word for anointed is where we get our root for Messiah. And this passage is even quoted in Acts 4:26, and in this verse the word is Χριστός (Christos, where we get Christ), but it can be translated anointed.

Doing a word study on it, I got this, "anointed; Septuagint for משיח, Messiah, a term applied to every one anointed with the holy oil, chiefly to the High Priest."

This makes me rethink the significance of anointing someone with oil. The Lord Jesus was the anointed one... with the oil. I guess I always read it as appointed one, but thats not what its saying.

Have you considered using oil when you pray for someone? To anoint them? What do you think about the connection to David the King, and to our Christ? Are we sharing something with them when we are anointed?

The sacrifice that is thanksgiving (part 3)

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." - Psalm 50:23a

Okay I intended to only write two but I couldn't resist and I'll be honest, this may not be the last. That said this time I want to focus on this:

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.  And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.'" - Job 1:20-21

Now as I'm talking about thanksgiving, I think about Job blessing the Lord. This says he fell to the ground and he worshiped. Would you have been able to pull this off? I imagine I would have turned to alcohol and not the Lord. But not Job, he blesses the Lord because the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Here the Lord is YHWH, the most reverent form of Lord that we have (ESV does this with LORD instead of Lord).

I do not want to call this outright thanksgiving. Job is not happy that this happened, but he understood thankfulness because he knew all that he had could be taken away. It is only when I realize my computer, my blog, my home, my job, MY WIFE, and even MY COMING CHILD, are an absolute gift from YHWH in His fantastic grace, could I possibly turn to the Lord after losing all of it and say, "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away."

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, LORD for your great gifts to me. My wife is my favorite.

Hebrew or Greek...

I'll be studying both and don't know what I think about either yet. But I'm just curious, have you studied one or both? Do you have a particular interest in one for one reason or another?

And give me something more than just liking the OT or NT.

The sacrifice that is thanksgiving (part 2)

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." - Psalm 50:23a

Now in light of this passage we just looked at in the Psalms, read this next passage from Colossians.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:16-17

As you read this, try to let it "dwell in you richly," or let it fester (as my father would say). My wife and I do sing to one another attempting to talk to one another as one might do in a musical, but we do it more for amusement than in observance of this scripture.

How easy is it to do all that we do in the name of the Lord? How easy is it to give thanks to God for everything we do? While you may give thanks for your new computer, iPhone, ESV study bible, or whatever it is that floats your boat, do you give thanks for the mundane? The cup of coffee in the morning? The television shows you like to watch? What about your ottoman?

What does it look like to live in an attitude of thanksgiving?

After spending the worst summer of my life in a place where I was overworked and very underfed (to say the very least), I got on an airplane to fly home. I remember listening to the radio on the plane like it was the first time I'd heard music. The chair was the softest thing I'd ever sat in and there was literally nothing that slipped past my thankfulness. I was bleeding joy and thanks to the Lord because I had basically been through hell and back.

Now I hate flying with a burning passion and I wish I could remember the pain of that summer just so I could taste everything as sweeter than I do now.

I want an attitude of thanks. I want to glorify God with this sacrifice, and I want to do it in every word and deed.

The sacrifice that is thanksgiving (part 1)

"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High," - Psalm 50:14

I was struck this morning by this Psalm. And there is so much in it I've decided to break it up into two posts. First notice how this verse is in the imperative. We aren't given the option, we are told to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

Reading it this way I began my morning (as is often the case) thanking the Lord for what He's given me, with an attempt at as many specifics as I can handle. I thank the Lord for where I wake up every morning, for how blessed I am to have married the woman I married (especially given all the bone-heads I tried to date in college), and recently for the fact that we asked for a baby and we're going to have one, likely within the week.

There is a lot to be thankful for. This is my sacrifice. Now I assume its called a sacrifice because thanksgiving is admitting we are not responsible for these things. For many of us (perhaps all of us, and especially men), and depending on how practiced we are at it, admitting we aren't responsible for how much money we make, or how in love with us our wives are, is a very difficult thing to do. It is a sacrifice to honor the Lord this way.

I offered my sacrifice of thanksgiving and then finished the Psalm. The last verse (23), says:

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" - Psalm 50:23

By offering our commanded sacrifice of thanksgiving we are glorifying the Lord. Glorify the Lord today by obeying His call to a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

My lips will praise you

"Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands." - Psalm 63:3-4

I find in my quiet time there is always at least one way I can really enjoy worshipping Him. Sometimes the word just comes to life and sometimes its as dry as can be for me. I cant figure out the pattern, but for some reason when I cant get anything from the word, I can pick up a guitar and worship with all of my heart. And when both of these fail, my prayer life seems to really come alive.

Occasionally and sadly far too rarely, I can have two or more of these going at once. Worship the Lord with my whole heart through reading, music, and prayer.

I long for those times. But whatever happens, I want to worship the Lord, just like the Psalmist said.

"I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being." -Psalms 146:2

ESV Study Bible on the way...

If you frequent any other Bible-thumping blog you likely have heard, but the ESV study bible will be hitting shelves in October.

As my preferred translation, this brightens my already bright mood.
(See more here)

Also, see Scripture Zealot's "What's so great about the ESV."

The fear of the Lord - reverence that leads to obedience

"There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil." - Job 1:1

In learning about this verse I heard "the fear of God" defined as reverence which leads to obedience. Then I looked a little further down and saw verse 5, "And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually."

I want a fear of the Lord that leads me to reverent obedience. I want to seek the Lord and revere Him enough to ask for forgiveness for the sins of even my children.

Do you fear the Lord? Like really fear Him? Do you rise early in the morning and pray for your family? I know many an older man that swears the only reason they made it in the long run was their willingness to rise and seek the Lord.

Just for reference here the word is, yir'ah {yir-aw'}: respect, reverence, piety, revered.

My eschatology

An altogether too well put together simple post that I couldn't help but agree with and then link to. Titled, "My Eschatology." For all of you out there who know all about what happens between now and the second coming I'd just like to say... you're confused.
Thanks to Tim Ricchuiti.

Thy creatures wrong Thee, O Thou Sovereing Good! - Spurgeon

"Thy creatures wrong Thee, O Thou sovereign Good! _Thou art not loved, because not understood_: This grieves me most, that vain pursuits beguile ungrateful men, regardless of Thy smile."

This quote is from C.H. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening (April 14th Morning). It took me several readings of this to understand but really its quite straightforward. We, the people of the world, do not love the Lord because we do not understand Him.

So many people think He is a God of rules and damnation and fear and cruelty when in reality He is the God of love and perfection, and beauty, and humor and joy. He created us to live in a paradise and wanted the absolute best for us. But we, misunderstanding Him, pursue vanity and money and put our hope in Hummers and being liked by the right people in High School, Church, or even on our blogs.

I like the sheer sadness in the voice of Spurgeon as he cries out "Thy creatures wrong Thee, O Thou sovereign Good!" All of us ignoring His smile.

"For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations." - Psalms 22:28

The fascinating significance of bones in the Old Testament

Right now I'm taking Judges through Poets through Reformed Theological Seminary, and I was fascinated today when Dr. Currid walked through a word study on "bones" in the Old Testament.

He pretty much concludes that bones were seen as essential to some form of a resurrection. He illustrates this with Joseph asking for his bones to be taken up out of Egypt and buried more than 500 years after his death. He then shares about Saul's bones being unearthed and then moved across the Jordan to Israel. Then the "Man of God" and his bones in 1 Kings 13:21-31, and then Elisha's bones bringing a dead man back to life just through basic contact.

Finally he shares Ezekiel's experience with God and bringing the flesh back to bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

He says if something happened to your bones then you had no hope for future resurrection. This is made even more interesting in light of what Josiah did at the altar at Bethel during his reforms in 2 Kings 23:15-20.

p.s. look at John 19:31-38, specifically verse 37, and Psalms 53:5

It's one of the most interesting studies I've ever heard and definitely worth listening to. While I'm paying for full tuition you can listen online for free.

Open your itunes and go to iTunes U, click on Reformed Theological Seminary and then Judges through Poets by Dr. Currid.

You want to hear the last few minutes of:

Judges through Poets - 09b (from the 43rd minute)

and the beggining of: Judges through Poets - 10a

I want wings... you know... like an eagle

"Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:30-31

I swim almost every day. I also like to run. I also play rugby and mountain -bike semi-regularly. The thought of the Lord renewing my strength and being better off waiting on Him than relying on my own strength seems difficult to me.

But I love this picture, we will mount up with wings! Just like eagles. This is a big deal. How many times in your life have you wished that you could fly? And this is saying with the Lord we will fly. Our strength will be renewed when we are wait on the lord. You know the song "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord."

I want to run and not be weary. C.S. Lewis once said "“If one could run without getting tired I don’t think one would often want to do anything else.” And I agree. I want to wait on the Lord and learn to run and not be weary. Walk and not be faint.

Lord my prayer to today is for the will to wait on you, not depend on myself. I want to mount up with wings like eagles. I want to run and not be weary. I want to walk and not be faint. Be my strength.

But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke

"13:1 A wise son hears his father's instruction,
but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke." - Proverbs 13:1

There were a number of things through which I was able to listen to my father's instruction. I remember when I headed off to college I had a somewhat substantial inheritance (about $12,000), enough to get me all the way through my state school with no debt. I had every intention to live like a king, relax and not work through college.

My father sat me down and he reamed me out so bad I was terrified. I had, and to this day have, a fantastic relationship with my father. I'm one of the few people I know who can honestly say I would be proud to turn out like my father. When my Dad rebuked me, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed I hadn't already assumed I should work through college and attempt to save as much as I could. My father was a wise man and his instruction meant the world to me.

Do you listen your father's instruction? And if your father is a fool or not do you listen to your heavenly father's instruction?

A scoffer (lit. a mocker) does not listen to rebuke. It sometimes takes all I have just to hear the words of the Lord. To listen to His instruction. It takes all I have to not be a scoffer.

Maybe Solomon should not have asked for wisdom

I was looking back at the story of Solomon this morning. Why was asking for wisdom looked upon so wonderfully by the Lord? Was it just because he didn't ask for riches or long life --like it says? Or was it that the Lord really wanted him to ask for wisdom?

Also when I look back on the story, Solomon seemed to be granted a great deal of wisdom in all but the most important area. Why wasn't he wise enough to see that marrying foreign woman would lead him astray? He had to know, so maybe it was a willpower thing.

If given one wish from the Lord, I think I would request the willpower to follow after the Lord and be loyal to him and my family for the rest of my life. A relationship with the Lord that lasts would have kept Solomon's family on the throne forever. A relationship with the Lord that lasts would have the consequence of being a lasting friend of the Lord. This seems prize enough in itself.

As far as his wisdom goes, he made blunders such as working longer on his own palace than on the house of the Lord. Why? In God given wisdom why?

In retrospect, and with him as an example of wisdom, I think I would have preferred loyalty.

Do you twitter?

I'm a little amused, I've been twittering for about seven months or so, and I'm shocked at how often people decide to follow me. I have a little following of about 40 people and recently I've had a number of people decide to follow me.

I'm most surprised because, as you can see in my sidebar (where my twitter widget is), I don't write about much worthwhile.

I'm just curious. Do you twitter? What's your username and why do you do it? Also what kinds of things do you post, and are they worthwhile?

Justified by words

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” - Matthew 12:36-37

I'd just like to say that this brings to mind far too many things I will have to account for.

Prayer is still intervention

I was reading an article on God's Politics, about a Colombian Massacre back in 2005 and it remind me...

Between my junior and senior year of High School for the summer I worked in a ministry called St. Steven's Society in Hong Kong. If you've ever heard of Jackie Pullinger or her book Chasing the Dragon then you've heard of St. Stephen's Society. I was working in a heroin rehab center with some pretty interesting characters.

I remember Jackie Pullinger talking about hearing children scream. She has been through some pretty crazy things in Hong Kong and she was recounting some of the stories. Sometimes there is something you can do about it, really go and intervene. In our country we have the privilege of being able to call the police on domestic violence and they can go and intervene. There are many places in this world where this isn't a luxury we have.

She reminded us that a correct response is not to turn the volume of the TV up. If we are unable to intervene physically, we can always intervene through prayer.

Believers are moving more and more towards civic involvement. Are you? In our prayer lives at least, we need to begin to be burdened for those who are oppressed or in danger. If you lift them up in prayer, it wont be long until you are forced into action (as cheesy as that sounds).

Wretched men in bodies of death

"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" - Romans 7:24

You know when your sin is right there in front of you? You look back on a lie and realize the ramifications it will have, or you realize how your own vanity has kept you from walking with the Lord... and you think, "Wow, thats a bummer, I wish I'd handled that better."

I wish my sin hurt me in the same way Paul looked on his and called out for rescue from his "body of death." I am unwilling to dwell on the depths of my sin and be horrified at who I am, who I can be. I get by with a "I'm a pretty good guy," so often that I begin to believe I don't need the saving power of grace every day.

God forbid we should believe ourselves to be sinless and make him out to be a liar. I take comfort in the next verse and the answer of who will deliver us. I repent, I am a wretched, wretched man.

"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" - verse 25

Richard Dawkins and lies...

Today I was spending some time in a forum where someone had the official Richard Dawkins website as his homepage. I didn't know who Richard Dawkins was (call me a dinkus) so I went over to the wikipedia article on him and was pretty shocked at what I read.

I guess as a person who passionately believes what I believe, it should be no surprise to me when someone passionately believes something else and is an evangelist for it. That said, I never fail to be shocked at someone who parades for atheism. I don't know why this bothers me more than a mormon missionary or some evangelist for another faith. I figure they all lead people astray, but everything but the atheist is just a twist of the truth, albeit a twist enough to be a falsehood. I guess it just hits me harder when someone is teaching something that is a complete jump across the line into lies.

I fear for people who do this, and it only makes me hope all the more that what I am teaching be truth.

Starving, weak, and praying

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
-Isaiah 55:8-9

It occurs to me when reading this -- and bear with me -- this is pretty rudimentary... My thoughts are not his. Neither are my ways.

His thoughts are, in fact, higher than mine. And so are his ways.

I realize that my highest thoughts are often self serving vanity. The few times that I have better thoughts than these are mostly during prayer.

I realize that my highest ways are generally depending on my own strength. The only time I do better are when I'm physically unable to depend on myself and find myself depending on Him.

So pretty much if I was starving, weak, and praying... that is the most I can possibly aspire to be.

Why should the devil have all the good media?

There is a book by Philip Yancey called "I was just wondering." I imagine its a book for a person who wishes that they blogged but lives in a book world. Basically there are page and half to two page chapters where Yancey just talks about some of the things he's thought about but couldn't fill a whole book with. It was a book my short attention span really appreciated.

Anyhow, one of the chapters in this book (if I remember right, it's been a long time) is about Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and their creativity.

I think one of the things we believe as Christians is there is something un-christian about creativity. I feel like the more movies I watch, the more books I read, and the more time I spend on the internet, the more I feel like the media is un-christian. There is pornography everywhere, in all kinds of movies, all kinds of books, and all over the internet. There is inappropriate language, and violence and all kinds of craziness that many people in the church are completely numb to.

Once I realized my standards in entertainment were sadly low later in college I was shocked that I looked back at some pretty horrible movies I had seen with some of the pastors who had mentored me in High School.

I really think the media is about creativity. Writing is about creativity, and so are the movies and books we read.

I mean this to be less a comment on our numbness to the media than I do to remind us that creativity, and that the mediums we use like writing, movies, television, even the internet are not inherently wrong or evil.

I'm reminded of a song by Larry Norman "Why should the devil have all the good music?"

Should the devil have all the good media? All the good stories? All the good corners of the internet?

We're caked in spiritual filth

Pastor Chad wrote today about hospitality. He talks about Jesus cleaning the disciples feet and explains how dirty of a job this really was. He goes on to say that we need to put aside our weirdness and fears over such things and be willing to love people.

But it is so hard to wrap your hands around a dirty dirty man. There is a guy I see regularly whose job is to dig through trash with his hands and sort out what can be recycled (he is paid by the neighborhood to do so) but he makes so little money that he hardly ever showers and never washes his hands.

I shake his hand everytime, but its hard and I immediately go home and wash my hands.

There is another man I know who isn't fully there mentally and when I lay my hand on him to pray for him he will reach out and touch me. He never cleans himself and will often drool on me. It's hard, but sometimes we have to be willing to wash people's feet. Even if they're caked in filth.

Its hard to remember that we're spiritually caked in filth. Our best is still going to be disgusting to the Lord, but he loves us nonetheless and is even willing to wipe us clean.

Big universe, little man

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,  what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" - Psalms 8:3-4

I went to a large state school for my undergrad degree and studied English. This was a mistake on my part because it was basically just painful postmodernism shoved down my throat for the duration of my studying. But I did earn a pretty good grasp of postmodernism, something we are all feeling the effects of but few understand.

One of the interesting things is that people in our postmodern world look at the bigger world around us and they say, "Man is so small and insignificant, we must not matter, we must be a mistake. None of this is important."

What is cool about this is we recorded a similar response from thousands of years ago.

David in Psalms 8:3&4 looks at the gigantic universe and he says "Man is so small and insignificant, why do we matter? How can you, an infinite God care about man when he seems so small?"

The postmodernist thinks we are small and therefore we do not matter, but we should think the opposite way. We must have some kind of value that even we cannot understand for God -- the creator of the universe cares about us.

He has crowned us with glory and honor. We are the crown of creation. God has put all things under our feet. And because God has given man value, life has value. Read through the whole of Psalms 8, it's just fascinating that the reason the world uses to cite our lack of importance, is the same reason we use to argue for our intrinsic value.

New look...

I figured a new address should go with a new look, but I just spent WAY too long working on this, and need to head off to bed... Lots more work to be done. The logo is pretty but I want it to have a personal flare. Special thanks to for their template, and instructions that helped me get going.

I really am a big fan of the blog roll at the bottom however, and seeing as how it is only offered through blogger draft, it wasn't compatible with the new template... but we're off and running. Again more work ahead, but I like the new colors. They're pretty.

Lemme know what you think if you get the chance

I'm a babbling fool

"The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin." - Proverbs 10:8

Our pastor has decided to take two weeks on and two weeks off with another guy filling in the teaching on the off weeks. The other guy is a good teacher but he makes weird noises while he teaches just to be funny. It is funny, but not like he wants it to be.

Today this guy was talking about fools and he quoted this verse. Specifically the second part about a babbling fool coming to ruin. His point was that a fool talks too much and a wise man will be slow to talk and quick to listen. This is taught in other places in the scripture, but few are as colorful as the idea of a babbling fool (especially bringing himself to ruin).

It got me thinking, by blogging about all the things I'm sorting through theologically, am I the babbling fool? I wonder if instead of mentioning every idea as I'm forming it, it wouldn't make more sense to wait until I have a very established theology and then begin to discuss it. The issue is that I'm not sure you every fully develop a theology, or stop developing it anyway.

I just hope that writing this, and not sharing it with my friends, will help it to turn out to be the place where I am made a fool, and in real life I'll be able to keep my mouth shut.

The babbling fool definitely describes the way I often see myself, but what can you do? I'm trying to learn to be slower to speak, but blogging actually seems to help me do that.

Are you a babbling fool? How do you cope?

My theology is the ONLY theology

Many people don't know this, but the theology I have is actually the theology the early church had. It is the theology from which the New Testament was written. It is the theology the Old Testament writers had in mind. In fact, my theology from the bottom up is the THE theology. It is the most correct, it is absolutely correct, and anyone who believes differently than me has things wrong.

I mean this because we ALL think this. If we don't think this then we should change our theology. If we thought our beliefs were wrong we wouldn't believe them. That is the nature of the beast.

I'm amused that everyone doesn't recognize this.

I write this in response to an article I recently read. Actually I read an article by Nick Norelli titled "What I like about calvinism" and then a response to that article by one Geoff Smith of the same title.

Both showed a weakness of Calvinism being "Calvinism typically assumes it is correct from the get go and that traditional reformed theology was on the minds of the NT authors all the time no matter what they wrote about."

Yea... but come on guys. I don't want to be mean about this and I'm no Calvinist myself, but this is hardly an argument.

My new home...

Well, I've made the leap to my own url... will be my new home from henceforth.

Eternal inheritance better than $50,000

"For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." - Hebrews 9:15

When I was about 16 my brother had just turned 18 and received his inheritance from my great grandfather. I remember that my Dad took him into the kitchen and sat him down and then explained to him about what he was getting and the importance of it, and how he thought my brother should use the money. I also remember watching my brother walk out of the kitchen --eyes wide, hands in the air -- "I'm rich!" he yelled.

Sure $50,000 was a good amount of money to inherit right before college. When I turned 18 just two years later, my same fund (the exact same holdings as my brothers) was only worth $16,000 because the market had done so poorly over those two years. While it wasn't as much, it did pay for me to get through college and have a lot left over when I was done.

But then I think about this... Imagine an inheritance that is greater than money. A ticket to eternal comfort (no more pain, sorrow, death etc...), a ticket to eternal life, and a ticket to a friendship you could never possibly imagine. Imagine turning 18 and having your father sit down and show you all the things you had done wrong in your life, all the people you had hurt, all the sins you'd committed etc. Imagine him saying, "well guess what, your inheritance is enough to cover all of this, and infinitely more.

I like my eternal inheritance. I need to thank God for it more often than I do. It took my grandpa years of hard work to be able to pass on that much money to me (especially since he didn't even finish High School), but it took Jesus giving his life for my eternal inheritance.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you," - 1 Peter 1:3-4

Adults can be blissfully ignorant

I was reading a post recently about children and their ability to enjoy life without worry. And it got me to thinking...

When I was a kid the worries I had were extremely small. I cared about little beyond my neighborhood and elementary school. I remember (growing up in Colorado) thinking that by passing through the Rocky Mountains I would be on the other side of the world. Thats how small my world was. Any my worries were just as small... just as focused.

That said, school dominated my life. I genuinely thought life would end if I forgot my backpack on my way to school one day. I feared the other kids might know their multiplication tables better than me. A good portion of my identity was wrapped up in how well I played soccer at recess that day. I dreaded every long-miserable-drawn-out-day... and was shocked at how much fun life could be when I finally graduated from college and began to learn about things I was interested in. School was a painful time, filled with simple, small, but painful worries.

As I've become more mature in my walk with the Lord, and as I've drawn closer to Him in my older age, I'm surprised at how much more carefree life can be. When I am walking closely with the Lord nothing matters. I didn't understand that as a kid... though I would still consider it becoming "like a child."

I always heard that the worries of an adult are much more than that of a child... they may be more, but they are certainly easier to manage now that I know how much bigger than me the world is. Now that I really understand how much the Lord loves me, and having experience to look back on and know that the Lord carries me through all situations. As an adult I've finally learned the secret to blissful ignorance. Focus on the Lord makes me ignorant of the worries around me.

I wish that as a child I knew how important it was to love the Lord... I might not have feared my fourth grade teacher so much if I knew there was someone bigger... someone who could smite her with fire should the need arise...

Do you silence God's prophets?

"And I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel?” declares the LORD.  “But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’"
- Amos 2:11&12

I genuinely do not understand the arguments for the cessation of supernatural gifts. I've been a part of a ministry that regularly sees the supernatural and even requires all who are involved to speak in tongues. Now while I think thats going a little far, I've seen some amazing things related to speaking in tongues. And these people genuinely believe that the occurrence of the supernatural is directly related to the 15 minutes they spend a day, as a ministry, praying in tongues.

Now whatever you think about that. My point related to this scripture is with prophesy. I fear for those that believe that the gifts are no longer around because I fear that they are commanding the prophets "You shall not prophesy." And I do believe there is still prophecy... to a different level than there was before Jesus came etc... but it is still around in some form.

God doesn't mess around when he sends a prophet, intends to say something through that person, and then the prophet is shut up by his people. I think messing with this is a scary thing to mess with.

After all in verses 13-16 God says:

“Behold, I will press you down in your place, as a cart full of sheaves presses down. Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain his strength, nor shall the mighty save his life;  he who handles the bow shall not stand, and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself, nor shall he who rides the horse save his life; and he who is stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day,” declares the LORD.

Thats scary stuff to mess with.

Is seminary making you a preacher, a pastor, or a teacher?

As I'm adjusting to being a student of theology it has occurred to me that I don't think I'm being groomed to be a pastor (perhaps as I assumed I would be in an M-Div program). I think I'm being groomed to be a teacher.

This, I think, is due to the fact that I'm a student at a reformed seminary. Some of the teachers have even said things along the lines of "we know that because we're reformed we tend to care so much to know ABOUT God, that we often are bad at KNOWING God."

Is this my experience just because of the tradition in which I'm receiving my education? Or is this the experience most people have attending a seminary? I must admit that I planned on walking out of school being a pastor... but that doesn't look the be the case. For me this is alright because I aspire to be a teacher, not a pastor... but I imagine there are some people out there who would be more than a little bit bummed out to be better at educating people than leading a flock.

Sunday morning to teach?

And different churches have different ideas of what the sunday morning service is supposed to look like. Some people genuinely believe that it is all about teaching. You open the Bible and you plow through verse by verse or chapter by chapter. If you do it some other way then you are not Christian.

I actually come from a background where the Sunday morning goal is for people to fall back in love with the Lord. To make it through the week in love with the Lord. And then to grow as believers. The teaching is only the beginning, followed by an alter call for people who are not yet believers as well as an alter call for people who need prayer for anything.

A person coming on a Sunday morning will be in a comfortable atmosphere whether they have been to church before or not. They will find fellowship, prayer, and hear the gospel. The main teaching comes on a Wednesday night service where scripture is looked at more in depth. Or at a small group, which members are expected to join.

The church I attend now cares about the teaching on Sunday morning more than other things. The main difference being the audience. Where I come from, most of the people who attend are either not believers or new believers (often first or second generation). The church I attend now is fifth or sixth generation bible-belt believers.

I wish there was a more straightforward answer to what a Sunday morning looks like. I wish there was one way that works. What does your Sunday morning look like and why does it look that way? Who is your audience?

Do we as a church fail to meet people on a Sunday morning?

Is teaching what matters?