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Tuesday, February 28

Non-Christian Prayer?

Mark D Roberts has a series of posts where he meditates on the National Prayer Breakfast. It may not sound exciting, but he gives a fresh perspective to how we should view prayer.

I would recommend taking some time to read these brief posts and begin thinking how Christians can engage people where they are at without compromising belief in Jesus.

Part of what would make interfaith prayer not okay is if we were asked to check our faith in Christ at the door of the prayer gathering. This would be unacceptable to me. Yet I would argue that if Christians don't contradict core Christian theology in what they say in interfaith prayer meetings, then praying with non-Christian folk can be a good thing. In fact, it might build important bridges between Christians and people from other religions...

[In reference to Acts 17], Praying with non-Christian folk, it seems to me, can be rather like this. It's a way to affirm the genuineness of their effort and desire to communicate with God, even if they do not think of God in Christian terms.

Table of Contents
Part 1
Praying with Bush and Bono
Part 2
Praying with People Who Aren't Christians
Part 3
Should Christians Pray with People Who Aren't Christians?
Part 4
Should Christians Pray with People Who Aren't Christians? (continued)
Part 5
What Does It Mean to Pray in Jesus's Name?
Part 6
What Does It Mean to Pray in Jesus's Name? (continued)
Part 7
Do Christians and Muslims Pray to the Same God?
Part 8
Bono's Sermon
Note: The rest of this series exists as a stand alone series called: Reflections on the ONE Campaign. The content in this series and that one is identical.
Part 9
Bono's Sermon: His ONE Point
Part 10
The ONE Campaign: Some Facts, Including Some Surprising Ones
Part 11
Is God on the Side of the Poor?
Part 12
God and the Poor: Biblical Testimonies
Part 13
Reflections on the ONE Campaign
Part 14
Further Reflections on the ONE Campaign
Part 15
A Bit More on the ONE Campaign
Part 16
Why the ONE Campaign is So Important
Part 17
Introducing the EIGHTY Campaign

[HT: Tod Bolsinger]

Can Christians Cuss: Scriptural Meditations

James1.26 - If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

In other words, like a wild horse, the Christian must put a bit in his mouth, a temper, so that he will not go where he does not want to go. We are very intelligent beings. We can justify just about anything when we put our minds to it - hitting our siblings, thinking evil of someone, coveting, lusting, etc. But we can deceive ourselves when we think that freedom in Christ means that we can say anything we deem appropriate.

God has determined what is appropriate for the Christian (more on this in one of the next posts). Part of our sanctification - becoming more like Christ - is manifested in the things we talk about. So our discussion has quickly moved into the arena of language in general and away from cussing particularly.

Listen some more to James:

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water (James 3.6-12).

First, we see that the tongue can destroy. Like a fire it burns up us and others when it does not have boundaries. Second, it stains. Much like in the Old Covenant where someone would have to wash themselves because they had touched an unclean thing so it is with the tongue. It can make us unclean. Just remember the last time you heard a raunchy joke. Did you feel dirty afterwards? Third, it is more powerful than a wild lion. Even the lion can be tamed so that a man can stick his head in its mouth at the circus! Not the tongue. It deceives. You think you have it mastered and then it says something you wish it hadn’t.

Fourth, and most importantly, it indicates our justification before God. James pulls out the imagery of the fig tree. This is reminiscent of Jesus telling the disciples to beware of the false prophets. There is an intricate link between the message of the false prophet and his fruit (cf. Matt 7.15-20). Before being in Christ we were full of salt water. No one would be refreshed from dipping into our stream and taking a swig. But the Holy Spirit has been poured out in our hearts and overflowed our banks f=so that blessing springs forth, even in the midst of persecution (1 Peter 3.9).

The message that we preach and live is diametrically opposed to speaking rashly and at the whim of our wills. We do not spit out vocabulary that resembles the phlegm of our world. Instead, we are to speak words of healing and life.

Saturday, February 25

Case In Point: You Can't Be Consistent in Boycotting

I did a little search and it seems as though Barnie’s Coffee was an Exhibitor at the 2005 GLBT Expo - Uniting the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community [Go Here]. Would Bob Jones advocate such a group? This is my point! If BJU was consistent they wouldn’t have Barnie’s Coffee at their campus either.

I don’t think Christians should boycott other businesses because they affiliate themselves with things they don’t agree with. If they did they would have to start their own commune (which some have tried) in order to be consistent.

Friday, February 24

Bob Jones Ain't Drinkin' Starbucks

Question: Does boycotting a company ever really help? I mean the Southern Baptist Convention tried it with Disney and now Bob Jones University is doing a similar thing with Starbucks (read here).

Really, if you think about it 1) Is the Christian called to separate himself in such a way? And 2) If so, how are we supposed to legitimately live in this world? That is, in order to be consistent you would have to start your own nation. I am sure that’s what some folks would like to do. But where then is your light shining if not only on the inside of your basket?

Shall we now begin a pure, Christian distributor to compete with Starbucks? Shall we not eat at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, shop at Whole Foods, buy Johnson & Johnson, Maybelline, ad infinitum because they may not have views consistent with our own?

I would agree that we should not support companies that seek to propagate a world view diametrically opposed to mine. That is, a company whose purpose of existence is to tear down that which I seek to build.


[HT: Boanerges]

Can Christians Cuss: Conclusions

I must admit, I didn’t think I would be thinking so long about this topic. I have been probing my mind and talking to quite a few people regarding this topic.

Conclusion 1: Although someone may be at liberty to use a vulgar word to translate skubala in Phil 3.8, this does not mean that it is a license to cuss whenever we would like. The exception does not make the rule.

Conclusion 2: Imagine an evangelist speaking of the glories of heaven and being born again and as he is speaking of eternity and beauty and rest he is inserting vulgar words. There seems to be a natural aversion to such. Indeed, there seems to be an aversion to mix the common with the sublime. This should give those who are Christians pause to utter vulgar (common) speech that would detract from the glories for which you have been bought.

Conclusion 3: This is the more heart-provoking conclusion I have drawn. It is true that meanings of words can change over time. But the issue of cussing goes much deeper than letters and syllables. Indeed, it is from the overflow of the heart our mouth speaks (Mt 15.11,17).

If a Christian has been born again, the old man has passed away and the new man has been put on. Unlike the fool, the Christian does not return to his own vomit. When someone has been born anew, there is a difference in the way they live. There is a difference in the way they speak.

I will look at specific verses soon.

Thursday, February 23

Race, Sex, and Harvard

Thomas Sowell writes another thought-provoking article on how diversity is a blanket for political agendas.


Neither truth nor standards matter when it comes to one of the ideological raw nerves like race...

Despite incessant repetition of the word "diversity" in academe, the tragic fact is that the academic world is one of the most intolerant places in America when it comes to diversity of ideas. Even the president of Harvard dare not step out of line.

Parents pay the kind of money on which whole families could live, in order to have their children "educated" at elite academic institutions, hearing only one side of a whole range of issues -- race and sex being just two...

Students are getting half an education at inflated prices and learning only how to label, dismiss and demonize ideas that differ from what they have been led to believe. Their "educated" ignorance is a danger to the future of this country.

Wednesday, February 22

Christian Stripping

This ministry to those involved in the sex industry is encouraging and seems to be legitimate. I have heard of other ministries who are reaching out to those addicted to pornography, but am not sure I agree with how they go about doing that. This one seems to be one that is caring and is working...

An excerpt from their web site:

"The ministry is about teaching churches not to be judgmental. Our church has made a commitment to not judge people who come through the door -- not on the way they dress, not on how they look, and not on their past. There are people who would like to go to church and would like to talk to God, but feel like they've done too much. My main goal is to let them know that they have not done too much. That our God is a forgiving God. We're just supposed to be messengers to let them know that God loves them.

"We want to have porn stars and strippers come to our church. How do you do an ad for that?“

JC's Girls Girls Girls
Pioneer Press Article


I am continually amazed at the gall and vicious words that people type in the blogosphere! I am referring to Dr. Witherington’s post and comments on the ESV. I skimmed and read some of the comments and was pretty disappointed by the way people disagreed with Dr. Witherington.

I believe the post was out of order since it had not been rightly researched and motives of the ESV translation team were called into question. Simply because a brother makes a brash statement doesn’t mean that other brothers are obliged to respond in kind. Yes correction needs to be done, but it needs to be done in a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6.1).

The ESV Blog responded very magnanimously, of which I am proud. I wish Christians would respond in the same kind of informed and caring way.

I am especially encouraged by Dr. Witherington’s humility and apology at the end of his Comments section. It takes humility and a desire to follow Christ to not keep arguing but to admit you were wrong.

I am currently in a care group with Dr. Stuart Scott and I posed the question as to how the exchange of ideas can be done without exchanging blows. I will write on this once we discuss it. How do we disagree and incubate relationships? That is something I hope we can figure out together...

"A Corpse Half-Eaten by Fishes"

Although word studies should not be solely relied upon for interpreting the Scriptures, they lead us in the right direction. After all, without knowing what words mean, this sentence would have no meaning.

In an effort to hone my understanding on the word skubala, I spent some time in the library with some good lexicon friends. Some of the comments to my posts have affirmed the fact that if Paul used a derogatory word, then we should be willing to translate it that way. As stated before, the definition of skubala to refer to a present-day derogatory word is contested. So, in an effort for clarity here is what I found:

- Liddel’s definition: dung, filth, refuse
- Greek Lexicon of Roman and Byzantine Periods by E.A. Sophocles: refuse, chaff, dung, excrements
- BDAG: useless or undesirable material that is subject to disposal, refuse, garbage (in var. senses, ‘excrement, manure, garbage, kitchen scraps’
- Latin Vulgate translates: feci
- Luther translates: Dreck

While these are helpful, I was most helped by an article in Kittel’s dictionary that explains the word. I saved it for last, because it fills out the word a little better than any four letters could do. For those who are not into this sort of parsing of words, I think if you read the quote below, your mind might change.

- Kittel: dung, muck. “In the transf. sense the word is used of persons and things to denote pitiful and horrible remains, a corpse half-eaten by fishes...Under Hellenism popular pessimism uses the term for man’s corruptibility...In general the word carries with it the thought of what is worthless and useless, also abhorrent and unclean. [Sirach 27.4] uses the images of lumps of manure remaining in the sieve to illustrate the refuse, i.e. the impurity and wickedness in the mind of man.”

Sure, you might be able to quickly convey an idea of what skubala is, but it is the job of the teacher and preacher to paint this picture for his congregation. Again, I think the issue boils down to something a little deeper than we would like to think. I will deal with this in my next post or so.

Monday, February 20

The Church Is Being Manipulated Into Advocating Evolution

The BBC informs us that The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is attempting to coerce the Church into advocating atheistic rationale by implementing fear. Here are some excerpts with commentary to follow:

"It's time to recognise that science and religion should never be pitted against each other.

"They can and do co-exist in the context of most people's lives. Just not in science classrooms, lest we confuse our children."

"At a time when fewer US students are heading into science, baby boomer scientists are retiring in growing numbers and international students are returning home to work, America can ill afford the time and tax-payer dollars debating the facts of evolution," he said
Full Article

Is it me or does anyone see the incoherence of the AAAS? They are right in saying that religion and science should never be pitted against each other...and then they add the exception: “Just not in the classrooms...” Science depends on the existence of God. There can be no rational explanation of cause and effect relationships apart from God’s existence. Check out Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton’s book, The Soul of Science. They give a reasoned defense of why science depends on religion.

Another point, could it be that people are not entering the scientific fields because it has become its own religion - turning over tables that coalesce with their world-view. If they truly desire to know the truth, why be afraid of a “non-scientific” hypothesis for the way the world works? It seems as though the irrationality of evolution is becoming more pronounced. It’s as if the AAAS et al. are clinging tighter and tighter to their dolly that society is telling them to give up.

Piper Says Thank You

John Piper thanks those who have been praying for him. Click here for the audio.

[HT: JT ]

Don't Bear the Weight Alone

One of the saddest things in dialogue with non-Christians is the fact that they try to point out a myriad of problems with the Christian world-view but never offer any alternative.

I mentioned this before in my series of posts on the existence of God, but I feel the need to remind us all of the fact that the Christian world-view is the most consistent with the world as we know it. Not only this, the atheist cannot explain where reason came from.

The Problem of Evil is not a problem that the Christian must answer by himself. The atheist, the Hindu, the pantheist, the naturalist, etc. must all give a reason for why there is evil in the world. If they say it doesn’t matter, then ask them again when they come face to face with suffering.

I am not trying to be trite...I am being as honest as I can. We do not have to bear the weight of the problem of evil alone.

Paul Cussed, Didn't He?

Some have argued that Paul’s use of skybala (Phil 3.8), a word translated as rubbish or refuse, is justification for saying more earthy terms for the word. Is this true?

This is somewhat speculative. While I don’t have major qualms with translating the word with a harsher word, I don’t think this justifies using language at liberty like this.

If Paul were at liberty to use such language wouldn’t we see more evidences of it than we do. I mean, he goes pretty buck on the Corinthians and Galatians. You would think that with the anger and emotion he was feeling he would let an f-bomb drop or something. ((Of course, “f-bomb” is contextual, but you get the gist.))

What is wrong with saying all things are as refuse? Is this not earthy and picturesque enough?

Saturday, February 18

Can Christians Cuss?

As I have been roaming through the blogosphere, I have noticed some Christians using language that wouldn’t be spoken from the pulpit. This question as to whether Christians should cuss has plagued me for about five or six years. After all, aren’t words arbitrary or irrelevant when compared to eternity. Well, I don’t think so. I think words relate to reality and what we talk about is an identifier to who we are on the inside. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Is “crap” a cuss word? What about “damn”? Depending on the context, the words can be acceptable. For instance, if I communicate that sinners are damned then it is not cussing. But if I use it flippantly, then it should be classified as cussing.

Some might say I am splitting hairs and being too legalistic about it all. After all, don’t Christians have liberty? Yes, but we have been set free from bondage and for service to God. In other words, we have been set free from purposeless living so that we can proclaim his excellencies (1 Peter 2.9).

What we communicate with our lips tells others about our Jesus.

Doug Beaumont has an interesting article on this topic. Although I wouldn’t agree with this brother on all levels, I think he brings up some great points regarding cussing as a sign of laziness and looseness in living.


Friday, February 17

Driscoll's New Book

Mark Driscoll is a charismatic leader in the Emerging Church movement. I have found him to be very helpful in his desire to reach his culture with the Gospel. One thing must be clear...Driscoll is part of the Emerging Movement, not the Emergent Movement (of which McLaren and Jones are a part). Steve McCoy has written a book review that whets the appetite to read Driscoll’s latest book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church.

I will be buying this one and reading it when it comes out May 1. Here are some excerpts that were provoking in McCoy’s review:

This has been one of the most important books on church and ministry I have read, and I think will hold a unique place among books about ministry.  My advice?  Get this book.  Read it.  Reread it.  Give it away.   It's most helpful for pastors and planters since it deals a lot with dealing with preaching, logistics, pastor's family issues, church growth, etc.  But I highly recommended for all church leaders and thoughtful Christians...

Conservative evangelicals need to learn from Driscoll's willingness to identify with the "emerging" church while distancing himself from movements within it that he finds problematic (at the least).  By considering himself an insider, he has influence that many evangelicals who only scold the ECM will never have.

Muslim Missions Conference

If you're in the D.C. area in March 31-April 1 and are interested in ministering to Muslims, check out"The Challenge of Islam to the Church, Mission and Society". It is a seminar put on by Reformed Theological Seminary in D.C.

Here's the schedule:
Friday, March 31
7:30pm- Welcome and Introduction of Series and Seminar
(Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director, RTS Washington DC)
7:45pm - “The Challenge of Islam to the Church”
(Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director, Barnabas Fund)
9:05pm - Questions and Discussion
9:25pm - Announcements and Closing Prayer (Hugh Whelchel)
9:30pm - End
Saturday, April 1
9:00am - Brief Introduction and Opening Prayer (Hugh Whelchel)
9:05am - Session I: "The Challenge of Islam to Christian Mission" (Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo)
10:15am - Break
10:30am - Session II: "The Challenge of Islam to Society and Culture"
11:25am - Questions and Discussion
11:40am - Announcements and Closing Prayer (Hugh Whelchel)
11:45am - End

[Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo] lectures nationally and internationally on Islamic issues, multicultural issues and race issues. He is the author/editor of ten books and numerous papers on these subject areas.

Wrastlin' in the Pulpit

I sure hope this is a parody. But with all the attempts at reaching our culture, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t. It seems St Andrew’s Episcopal has taken contextualization to a whole new level with this advertisement .

[HT: StifletheFolly ]

A Decision Doesn't Save Anyone

“I accepted Christ when I was twelve.”

“I walked down the aisle at four.”

“I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer last year.”

I know too many people who put their trust in a decision they made at some point in the past. As we saw in Mk 13.13 it is the one who endures until the end that will be saved. But the question hovers over your head...what are you deciding to do now?

You cannot live your life by remembering when you walked don the aisle. There is no peace with God if you are not living in peace with God. What does this mean? Well, if you are not spending time listening to God through the preaching of his Word nor are spending time reading the Scriptures nor are fellowshipping with others you probably are not saved.

It doesn’t matter what decision you made last week! If you don’t rest in Jesus for your salvation then you have no confidence.

Our lives are not lived in a decision we made. They are lived by decisions we constantly make. What did you do yesterday to grow in your faith? What did you do the last hour to grow in your faith? The Christian life is a battle against sin. We don’t retreat when things get tough. We press into them in the strength we receive from being in relationships with other Christians. We press into it as we brandish the weapons of war.

Sound a little fanciful for you? You might not be convinced of 2 Tim 3.12. You might be a little too comfortable in this life. North Americans live in a world totally different than the rest of the world. We live in warm houses and drive nice cars and talk about the weather. The problem is that we don’t think about eternity.

Those who made decisions 20 years ago live as though they had never decided anything. What that does is harden their hearts to anything that God would want to do in their life. They put their confidence in themselves and continue to live in ignorance of God’s truth he offers us in the Word. People speak fancy words about faith, angels, God, Jesus, and all that...but their lives look like hell.

Life is not lived by a decision but by decisions made every moment of everyday...

Wednesday, February 15

Don't Waste Your Cancer

John Piper seems to be recovering well from his prostate surgery yesterday. Here is an article he wrote on the eve of his surgery. It is true that Christ's love is better than life (Psa 63.3) and that he will never leave us so what do we have to fear (Matt 28.20; Heb 13.5-6)? I pray that the church would be able to say what John says in this article. We need to be convinced that an eternity with God is better than a lifetime of prosperity here. Please read his article. It will help you and those you know who are struggling with pain and sickness and death. He writes ten ways that someone can waste something as precious and powerful as cancer.

Yes, there is a huge amount of suffering in the world, but it is meant to draw us closer to Christ. His sufficiency in the face of pain. Our weakness and need...Oh that Christians would embrace Jesus in times of suffering and not cling to this life as though it were everything.

Here is an excerpt:

I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God's power to heal—by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory and that is why cancer exists. So not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain...

5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.

Satan’s and God’s designs in your cancer are not the same. Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ. God designs to deepen your love for Christ. Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ. God’s design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ. It is meant to help you say and feel, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And to know that therefore, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 3:8; 1:21).

©Desiring God

I Am Now a Ukulele Fan

I don’t have any ukulele music in iTunes, but am really reconsidering if there is much like this fellow. There is another link to hear him play some more.

His name is Jake Shimabukuro. I am quickly becoming a fan...Check out his website.

[HT: YongDawg ]

Marriage as Idol

Oh! the gift of singleness. Some consider it a curse from God...and in so doing sin against the Lord.

What is interesting about being single, I wanted to remain single, yet I struggled with whether marriage was ‘in the cards’ for me. Did God want me to remain single for the rest of my life or have a family? This relates to previous posts I have regarding biblical decision-making [The Will of God and Counsel and The Will of God and Opportunity].

My understanding of marriage is affected by my understanding of Paul in 1 Cor 7.9 and the last days we are living in. Some people have taken (wrongly, I think) the command in the Garden “to be fruitful and multiply” and made it something that pertains to all people at all times. I think that those who are married (especially as Christians) should heed this command. However, there is a new economy, when it comes to marriage, in the New Covenant. Otherwise, why would Paul give a concession and desire that other people be single as he was?

I plan on working through “gift of singleness” in the future...but for now I want to deal with how marriage can be an idol.

The reason I even mentioned 1 Cor 7.9 has to do with the fact that I think as Christians we have bought into the notion that when God said, “It is not good for man to be alone...” we have assumed that he was referring to marriage. Thus, we have created a culture that is like an elite club - “marrieds“ get enveloped in the fold more readily than singles. The Singles ministries seem to be a little off in their focus - looking more like a 15-minute date party than a congregation of believers.

Because we have set ourselves up for such a world-view, we have made it very hard for someone to not feel left out, so to speak. That is, the goal of life is to get married, have kids, etc. This is not the goal.

The focus in the New Covenant seems to be on radical living in light of eternity. Marriage is not eternal, for neither are the angels married in heaven and we shall be like them in this regard (Matt 22.30). Being single means you are freed up to lay down your life for God’s flock and you don’t have to worry about a sizable life insurance policy to take of your survivors. Balance: Remember my last post...we must not be deceived by sin and become conceited in our hearts regarding marriage.

What does all this mean for a blog post (meaning, short and pithy)?

1) Well, as Christians we need to reconsider the language and paradigm that marriage is a fulfillment and obedience to God’s command and expression that it is good for man not be alone.
2) Our vocabulary needs to shift from speaking of marriage in the same categories pre-Christ and post-resurrection.
3) Singles must shift their focus off marriage as though it were the answer to their loneliness.
4) Instead, as Christians, we should be re-defining what it means to be single and married and live in community. In other, words we need to move our eyes off of relationships between men and women being for sexual fulfillment and more towards a brother and sister mindset.
5) At the same time, we must not negate the fact that God has called men and women to marry and have children. This is a tension, I admit, but one that we must live in and embrace in the last days.
6) Not view marriage as fulfillment of an individual life but as a propeller to more fruitful ministry. Expanding our influence for the Kingdom of God should be the mindset of the Christian. So when we consider marriage to an individual, we should firstly ask, “Will this marriage relationship further the Kingdom of God in the place and time that God has called me to?”

Tuesday, February 14

Eight Years Late...but Not a Penny Short

This is a defense that I should have given eight years ago in my Old Testament class at the University of Louisville. I didn’t have a defense then, but now I have an answer.

Gen 1.26-27 which says:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

The problem arose when the professor said that when God said, “Let us...” he was not referring to himself in the plural. That is, there is no shadow of Trinity in the Old Testament. He said it was just a poetic form of majesty. When kings spoke they used the plural. Nevermind this was an assertion not pointed out in the Bible at all. He also said it could be that God was speaking to the angels. I read a paragraph in Anthony Hoekema’s book, Created in God's Image, that I wish I had read eight years ago:

Some [scholars] call it a ‘plural of majesty,’ an unlikely possibility since such a plural is not found elsewhere in Scripture. Others have suggested that God is here addressing the angels. We must also reject this interpretation, since God is never said to take counsel with angels, who -themselves creatures - cannot create man, and since man is not made in the likeness of angels. Rather, we should interpret the plural as indicating that God does not exist as a solitary being, but as a being in fellowship with ‘others’ (p. 12).

Read ‘em and weep, Professor! Read ‘em and weep.

Though we cannot conclude that this is a clear teaching of Trinity in the Old Testament, we have to at least understand the Bible as speaking of God as One yet existing in relationship. God’s revelation in Scripture is historically progressive. We have the seed of the Old Testament coming to fruition in the New Testament (as Geerhardus Vos explains). In other words, Gen 1.26-27 is preparing people for the fact that God exists as One Being in Three Persons. To teach this without giving some kind of shadow and paradigm in which to think of God would shock and propel someone into disbelief.

Singleness as Idol

I’ve been debating whether to post about the topic above for a week or so. I have been brewing over the topic for years - especially pre-marriage.

I was one of those guys in college ministry that was gung-ho about almost everything - from playing bongos on the worship team to PowerPoint debate over overhead projector to whether I should be a celibate for the rest of my life.

I had equated true spirituality with privacy. God was most glorified in me when I was most alone with him. No distractions meant focus. I had adviced a lot of friends as to whether I should be single for the rest of my life or pursue marriage. Jim Elliot was influential in my life and I wanted to finish what he had started among the unreached peoples of the Amazon and Andes areas of South America.

To my post: I suffered from the idol of singleness. I exulted in the fact that I was not tied down physically nor emotionally to someone else. I thought it would be a hindrance to service and worship of God.

And so our culture today worships this idol - but for different reasons. Affluency, self-aggrandizement, freedom, autonomy, etc are the motives for such living. But I had to come to terms with the fact that I, too, suffered from the same motivations. Oh! That others would see my high-spirituality to forsake the status quo and live radically for the sake of the Gospel. It’s great to be able to say, “Lord, I will go anywhere and do anything for you” - and know that I can without consultation.

My fear is not that there will be single people in the world. My fear is that Christians - those who follow Jesus - have the same motivations I did to stay single.

Tomorrow: Marriage as Idol

Monday, February 13

Valentine's Day Confessions

Here’s an interesting web site where people anonymously confess their sin. Interesting take on James 5.16 for a non-Christian world-view.

Any thoughts out there on what confession is and what it isn’t?

Words That Have Changed My Life...#2

And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. [Jesus as quoted in the book of Mark 13.13]

When I first read these words about nine years ago, my life was revolutionized. Two reasons:

We live in a culture of easy-believism. People who grew up in church tout the phrase, “Once saved always saved.” The problem is they don’t know what it means to be saved. That is, the people I am thinking of that go on the defense when you ask them why they don’t attend church or continue to live a life of sin...these do not know what it means to be saved. Merely getting baptized as a baby or a pre-pubescent teen does nothing for your soul. Baptism is the confession of a greater reality.

I knew there was something wicked about someone saying, “I am saved” when their life did not prove any different. In fact, this is what led me to dabble in the New Age movement, Buddhism, atheism, agnosticism, et al. I was convinced that the people who claimed to be saved yet lived no differently had nothing to offer me.

Maybe you’re that person...

Secondly, Jesus said these words to his disciples as he was on the road to being crucified. He was getting ready to be scourged and nailed like a placard to a splintered piece of wood. He assured his followers that they too would suffer. He assures us that any who desire to live a godly life will suffer (2 Tim 3.12). You can put all your money on it.

While this isn’t the most uplifting thing, the promise that “the one who endures to the end will be saved” is strength to my bones. The one who rests in Christ’s hands can have all Hell hurled at him, but he will endure to the end because none can snatch him out of his hand (Jn 10.28). My desire is to live a godly life and so I can expect to suffer persecution - whether at work, or the grocery, a job interview, or my own family and friends. I will suffer because my world-view is so very different than the world’s. But I take comfort from the fact that although the world forsake me, I will not be forsaken.

Friday, February 10

We Better Talk

Thinking about proposing this Valentine’s Day...thinking about proposing anytime? Here are a list of things that you might want to cover before you get married...

Topics for Conversation When A Man & A Woman Are Considering Marriage to Each Other

Irrelevent Christianity

In an effort to reach the masses, Christians lose touch...with reality. The web site Teenage Jesus is a prime example of how far off the boat North American Christianity has jumped.

I appreciate the sentiment of trying to reach your children with the Gospel. HOWEVER, what ever happened to getting involved in your kids’ lives? The Gospel is not only relevant if you dress it up...

The web site explains that the Bible doesn’t say anything about Jesus’ teen years. So is the answer to fill it in with non-sense? If we take the admonition from 2 Tim 3.16-17 correctly we would not denigrate the Bible to irrelevancy. Instead, we would seek to apply it to life...This is an attempt. A failed one, though.

Who really cares about Jesus’ teenage years? Satan has used areas where the Bible is silent to open up the door to speculation that leads people away from the solid food of the Word.

I am not angry...I am disappointed. Let’s not speculate. Let’s seek to rightly understand what God has already given us. Let’s not waste time with endless genealogies and tales that only hurt the hearers.

[HT: Purgatorio ]

Exposing the Truth on Abortion

One of the main reasons I was for abortion was the fact that I only thought about it abstractly. That is, I thought it was a wonderful thing for women to be in control of their bodies. I didn’t like the idea of women being forced to servitude and ignominy. The way that people explained the issue to me was that if the government makes abortion illegal women will be slaves to the state and will have to do whatever Uncle Sam tells her.

Who would want such militaristic governance? So, I said, “It’s great that people have control over their bodies.” However, not until my time at an academic summer camp that my Biology professor showed us a video of abortions. Then it became real. The ideology was still there, but now I knew what an abortion was. The ideology for personal autonomy is still here, but it is informed with truth.

What is sad about the abortion issue is that so many people only know what abortion is in the abstract, they do not know what it is with their eyes. It is an indictment against humans to affirm something they do not know about, and desire to remain ignorant.

Abort 73 is an amazing site. If you do not want to be ignorant any more and feel a sense of responsibility of knowing what you affirm, then go to the website and see the videos and read. The second video is graphic, but the truth of abortion must be trumpeted.

Thursday, February 9

February 14th: National Singles' Awareness Day

SoloFeminity has posted interesting ways for singles to celebrate...

Revival at Asbury??

There has been continuous chapel at Asbury since Monday, February 6th. Full article here.

[HT: Reformissionary ]


How do the PowerTeam, bashing babies’ heads on the rocks, and Jesus relate to each other?

I just finished listening to a 25-minute podcast that I thought was very well done [if you don’t have iTunes, you can still download the audio]. It's a program called Nuclearity and it’s done by a fellow named Hugh Duncan [I've already syndicated it].

In it he interviews Tremper Longman, Dan Allender, Don Miller, Brian Loritts and their understanding of the relationship. It was very helpful for me and the last 8 minutes are worth the entire listening.

The issues it deals with:
- The Imprecatory Psalms
- Politics and Evangelicalism
- Old Covenant/New Covenant

Music Excerpts: Carmen, Queen, Derek Webb (ecelectic, huh?)

I thought it had much to say in how Christianity relates to government. Of particular interest is how the Christian view of the world, salvation, and neighbor is dialectically opposed to the teachings of Islam. I will dialogue more on this later, but I want you to listen to the program first.

|| link to full program ||
The Grossest Verse in the Bible

Wednesday, February 8

Thomas Sowell on Scoring Points in the Media

Sowell has a good article on how the media crunches numbers in their own way to get the numbers they want in readership. The American public has been deceived by media and politicians doomsaying that the economy is the worst its ever been. Is this true? Think about these stats Sowell gives from the book, Myths of Rich and Poor:

As of 1970, for example, only about a third of American homes had both central heating and air conditioning, while more than four-fifths had both in the 1990s. Moreover, the homes themselves were more than one-third larger.

Just over one-fourth of American households had a dishwasher in 1970 but more than half did by the 1990s. Only 34 percent of households had color television in 1970 but 98 percent did in the 1990s.

How could this be, with lower real wages? Were we just going deeper and deeper into debt? Actually the net worth of Americans more than doubled during those same years.

Was there some kind of economic Houdini who could perform such magic?

No. Actually a lot of the point-scoring rhetoric involves misleading statistics.

Food for thought...and time to get informed.

Are All Christians Jerks?

Certainly some of us are. But to say “all” is to make a generalization not warranted by experience. I know people who have been turned away from the church because of a snide comment by a Christian they met on the street or know personally. There are others who look at all the rallies Christians do and the abusive language spewed from their lips and they wonder what makes us different than a non-Christian.

I oftentimes think the same thing!

1) People are jerks. That is, people want to get their own way regardless of the cost. Yes, there are some times that people shine brightly when they help an elderly lady across the street...but she better not take too long to do it ‘cause I’ve gotta be some place!

2) What makes a Christian a Christian is that he believes in the claims and life of Jesus. That is, knowing that he needs a major make-over he asks for help from someone who was perfectly good, who hung out with jerks, yet did not become one.

3) The abusive words have no place in the Christian’s mouth. Instead, truth should be trumpeted. Name calling and backbiting have no place in the life of a follower of Jesus. (HOWEVER, we are still in the process of being freed from our jerkdom...give us time).

4) I will say things on this blog that will irritate people because they go against the mainstream thoughts of the culture around us. Specifically, the last post on abortion might have caused some people to grit their teeth and click on another link. My hope is that someone will hear me out. I am not in the business of trying to marginalize people or in angering people. Rather, I want to explain what the Christian believes and persuade people to a) see the rationality of the religion and b) repent and believe in Jesus for his finished work on the cross.
        In order to do this I will have to step on some people’s toes, but I pray they will pardon me for the sake of getting to where we need to go. When I say something that doesn’t cohere with the way you see things, let me know. Let’s see where we differ and let’s not call names.

No, not all Christians are jerks...merely. We are in a process of being changed into the likeness of the one who is our lord. We say stupid things and do even stupider things. Realize that every person in a group is not exactly the same. There are some Christians I don’t like to talk to...much like a brother. However, I will talk to them in an effort to help them see that what they said wasn’t the best and that they need to tone it down a little. That’s the beauty of being in Christ. When I am a jerk, my church body comes around me and hugs me and whispers in my ear, “Maybe you try to say this this way instead.”

There will be times you think I have forgotten this post and succumb to jerkdom. Help me. I want to be clear and true...

Tuesday, February 7

S.L.E.D.ding Up the Hill of Good Argumentation in the Abortion Debate

Below is one of the most helpful acronyms in thinking through the issue of abortion. It was formulate by Scott Klusendorf and you can read more on his LTI website and blog.

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant?  Do we really want to say that large people are more valuable than small ones?  Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights.  Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than you and I.  But again, why is this relevant?  Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones.  Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings?  Some people say that self-awareness makes one valuable.  But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings.  Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are.  Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed?  If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-valuable tissue mass to valuable human being?  If the unborn are not already human and valuable, merely changing their location can’t make them so.

Degree of Dependency: If viability bestows human value, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them.  Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.
In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal (and valuable) because they share a common human nature.  Humans have value simply because of the kind of thing they are, not because of some acquired property they may gain or lose during their lifetimes.

.pdf of the article
Article Summarizing the Abortion Debate

A Comment on Commenting

With the advent of the Internet, words fly like missiles. They aim for targets and they explode on contact with the assailant never having to deal with the aftermath. In fact, the assailant never has to be known. It is a form of transcendent terrorism.

Harsh words? Think about it. At the end of this post you can remain anonymous and blast me for what I have said that did not cohere with your worldview. You could call me a bigot, a hate mongerer, lude, an irreverent, evil man. You don’t have to have rationale for saying such things, you just clickety-click on the keyboard and there it is forever recorded in the annals of this blog.

Does this upset me? On several levels. I love the fact that we have freedom of speech. I love the fact that what I type is free from indictment. I love the fact that you, my readers, can respond and help sharpen me. Freedom of speech is a gift...but respect owed to persons is not diminished by the fact that you have that freedom. Our freedom extends only as far as one is not hurt. In a different sphere, our freedom as persons does not extend to our physically hurting someone. If this is the case for physical, should this not also include verbs and nouns that denigrate and marginalize?

1) Imagine you get a letter in the mail saying, “You’re an idiot! Signed, Anonymous.” I would like to know a) Who wrote it and b) Why I am an idiot.

Reason is one of the things that separate us from animals. We can communicate nuanced arguments and understand them. We can be changed via these arguments.

2) What the anonymous note communicates is the fact that someone does not have the integrity to stand behind what they say. We live in a culture where people will use emotionally charged language with no foundation on which to stand. Why? Well, we are emotional beings. Whether we like it or not, we do not operate our lives from sound reason all the time. We make decisions based on experience/feelings and whether something or someone hurt those feelings.

3) When this happens we instinctively react, though we know in the back of our minds there is no rationale for what we are saying (other than we are wounded). So like a cornered cat, we lash out and don’t care who we hurt.

4) As humans we have the ability and gift to think. Take this as an admonition to think before you type. Communication is something we should not take too lightly, for we will be judged for every word that comes out of our mouth. The choice is whether your words will be bring healing to others - and so justification to you - or wound others - and so condemn you. We can help each other understand through our words. Don’t waste them.

I am taking off the screening feature whereby you had to get a Blogger account as a catalyst for discussion and to open the door to more people.
Thus, thus, thus the policy is:
1) Comment as much as you’d like
2) Put your name, or some way to contact you (if even just through your blog)
3) Think before you type...seek to understand and explain

A Couple of Helpful Posts Re: Blogging, Commenting, and Integrity
The Bane of Anonymity
Blogging [and Commenting] to Worship God

Monday, February 6


Sometimes I get asked why I haven’t posted in a while...I am flattered that people are actually reading the verbiage I’m putting out.

Here’s my typical answers (depending on the day and the mood):

1) I am overworked in school and work and hadn’t time to write
2) I don’t have anything percolating in my brain that would be noteworthy to write about (equivalent to dry bed syndrome in the stream of consciousness...possibly related to #1)
3) There is way too much stuff to write about. Sometimes it is like eating a basketball. I want to write things that are helpful and I want to write clearly. Sometimes this clarity and topic are not readily available in the sorting process.
4) I am responding to “Comments“. I started a blog to share my thoughts, but also to have my thoughts sharpened and begin and sustain dialogue with those who agree and disagree with my positions. So I try to spend a considerable amount of thought with Comments that ask questions and seek clarity in my positions.

Thus, I want to encourage my readers to scroll through my last posts and read some of the Comments [particularly this one, and this one , and this one

I have loved the interaction I have received and would like to encourage people to comment at will. I am contemplating taking the function off that requires you to get a Blogger account (although you don’t have to have a blog). I put that function on there because I was getting acne and impotence advertisements. In any case, I might be willing to take that risk if my readers know they will be on there as well as if it fosters more dialogue...

Friday, February 3

The Decrees and God's Lordship

John Frame writes:

Our wrrld is a world that is exhaustively meaningful, because it is the expression of God’s wisdom. Among human beings, interpretation is not the work of trying to assess for the first time the significance of uninterpreted facts. Rather, ours is a work of secondary interpretation, interpreting God’s interpretation.

[The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2002) 316-317.
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