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Thursday, June 29

FREE Songs

Well, they got what they might have been aiming for...a little publicity (though it was not stated) and a lot of love for their new worship CD - Valley of Vision - that will be released in August. I am so thankful for the Sovereign Grace Ministry. You can get two free songs here:

The Precious Blood
By Your Wounds (for this one you will need a promotional code of FREEDOWNLOAD)

The promotion ends July 13th.

Conceived Without Sin??

Below are three links to a topic that Scot McKnight treated a while ago that I thought would be good for folks to read. DO NOT COMMENT HERE UNTIL YOU HAVE READ ALL THREE POSTS! I think they are very helpful and should give us good reason to deny the immaculate conception as espoused by the Roman Catholic Church.

Immaculate Conception 1
Immaculate Conception 2
Was Mary Sinless?

An excerpt from McKnight’s 3rd post. He cites Joel Marcus’s Anchor commentary on Mark. And summarizes:

Here’s Marcus’s outline:
1. Jesus’ relatives (3:20-21)

2. Charge of demonic agency (3:22-26)

3. Parable of Strong Man (3:27)

2′. Charge of demonic agency (3:28-30)

1′. Jesus’ relatives (3:31-35).

In Marcus’ sandwiching theory, Jesus’ relatives surround the demonic stuff at the core of this passage. The whole is concerned with the “ineradicable division and fierce enmity between him and the demonic forces that hold the human race in thrall and blind to its true good” (279).
Now what is important here is that 3:20-21 is about Jesus’ relatives, including Mary. The Greek hoi par’ autou means, literally, “those from beside him” and scholars today agree that this means relatives, the relatives who decide to leave Nazareth at 3:20-21 and show up in Capernaum at 3:31. Meaning, mother, brothers and sisters. That expression is found with “relatives” as the meaning also at Prov 31:21; Susanna 33; Josephus, Ant. 1.193. This expression cannot refer to “disciples” (the other possible meaning) since in 3:20 we have the disciples; they are in the house with Jesus; the “family” is outside the house and coming to the house to seize him. Nor is the crowd, for they too are mentioned in 3:20. So, we have relatives, family members.
Here’s the text:
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Now if the family members are the same as those in 3:31, then we have family members — Mary, brothers — who think Jesus is “out of his mind.” This term, also, is not really up for debate for the context is not positive about them. They think Jesus’ behaviors down in Capernaum are rowdy and damaging to reputation. We can explain this in any number of ways, and some of them quite commendable, but when we are done, we have Mary and the “brothers” thinking Jesus is out of his mind. I do not think this is a standpoint of faith, but one of unfaith, of failure within faith, of a challenge on the part of Mary to see just how it is that God will do what she said in the Magnificat, to see how God will actually bring[s] about the shadowy side of Simeon’s sword. Her response to his work here is not positive; she thinks what he is doing is not the way God wants his will to be done.
We can push this further. If we say Mary is sinless and we say Jesus is sinless, and if we say Jesus always does the will of God, then Mary’s desire to get Jesus to come outside and to go home would [be] an act contrary to what Jesus thought God’s will was. That, if we define sin as anything contrary to the will of God now made known in Jesus, would be an act of sin.
There are reasons, then, to conclude that this act by Mary is against the will of God.
Personally, I think she quickly adjusted to Jesus’ words. But I think her first response is not that of faith. (bold added by Wireman)

Wednesday, June 28

Some More Photos of My Trip to the Middle East

For those of you who have enjoyed the fotos I have put up, you can go here to view some more from someone who was in my group. There are definitely some beautiful shots of the scenery...and a few of me mooching some chips off one somebody. Enjoy.

Queen of the Sciences

That is, theology. It used to be that theologians were sought after to answer questions of how’s and why’s and whozit’s and whatzit’s...but our society has bought into the notion that theology is not a real knowledge. Unlike mathematics and the hard sciences, theology is merely a belief system. However, this ‘two-sphere’ approach to life is fallacious. It misses the fact that one’s religious system pervades their view of the hard sciences.

Francis Beckwith writes why theology and politics must convene to have a full-orbed view of the world. It is not imposition of beliefs. Rather, it is exposition of truth. Check this out:

“While campaigning for the US presidency in 2004, Senator Kerry said that he believes that human life begins at conception, though he claimed that this belief should not be reflected in our laws. If the Senator had said something similar about another issue, such as spousal abuse, we would think his comments incoherent. So, let us imagine that Senator Kerry had said he believes that spousal abuse is wrong, but that this belief is his own private, personal one, and for that reason, it would be wrong for him to extend that belief through the law to others who may be members of religious traditions that encourage, or at least permit, spousal abuse. If Senator Kerry had made that claim, we would know immediately that he does not grasp what it means to say that an act is wrong. Why then do many of our fellow citizens not see the same incoherency when political leaders like Senator Kerry apply this reasoning to the question of abortion?” (italics original; Francis Beckwith, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, Vol 20, 462).

And another:

“Precisely because these jurists are theologically serious, they are unlikely to use the power of their office to engage in the sort of judicial usurpation of legislative, state, and executive powers that has marked the record of their liberal counterparts.” (Ibid., 467)

In other words, the legislation that is being passed down by more liberal “interpreters“ of the law are actually religious/philosophical beliefs about the world. What is ironic is that religion is supposed to be absent from a judge’s ruling - ”religious” being that which answers “What is man?” - but the philosophical presuppositions seek to answer that very question in the name of “fact.” After all, doesn’t the person who approves abortion have an answer handy when asked, “What is man?” Sure they do. Part of their answer is: “It isn’t an embryo.”

Of particular interest is page 469-470. This is a thought-demanding article and I am thankful to my friend, Weyland, who passed it along to me. Get the full article here. May the queen be re-throned; as God’s revelation is our only hope for understanding the twisted world in which we live.

Tuesday, June 27

Quick Sanctification?

Is. 41:16 And you shall rejoice in the Lord;
                in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

Deut. 13:1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil* from your midst.

YHWH had redeemed the slaves of Egypt and called them to be separate people, his own possession. They were about the enter a land that was not in their possession and were called to take it as their inheritance from God. The Lord wanted Isaiah 41:16 to be true of this people. He wanted to display the power of his hand and the glory of his countenance to his creation that had rebelled against him.

Not only was there pressure from the outside to conform to the world around them, but also within their camp would arise wolves who would tempt them to serve other gods. Why? Surely these false prophets wanted the people to go after false gods, but what was God doing in allowing for these evil men to open their mouths and entice his chosen ones? He was testing them, to know whether they loved the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (the first great commandment).

Quick Sanctification
What was the prescription? Quick sanctification. They were not supposed to squabble with these false prophets. They weren’t supposed to go through a troubleshooting map to see what they were supposed to do in relation to divine justice. They were supposed to stone this person immediately. This was someone’s son or daughter. Someone’s husband or wife. Someone’s Daddy or Mommy. Why such cruelty?

The better question lies in what you are attributing as cruel. Are you calling the stoning cruel? Be careful. The Lord’s justice is swift and pure and unsearchable. Yet this justice should be easily seen by a lover of God. God is the most precious thing in our lives. He has redeemed us from the curse of death and given us his Spirit abundantly. He has promised us eternal life and joy for the rest of our days (eternity) in his presence. Now the real cruelty lies in the fact that a false prophet is trying to draw people away from everlasting joy for the folly of bowing knees to metal and wood. These were meant for our our good but can be our demise. Our own foolishness that casts the image will be the very reason we forsake the cake for the sake of dung. We go to bite into our forkful of joy and found out it is excrement.

We must be killing sin or sin will be killing us - Romans 8:13 (per John Owen). We do not dally with the very thing that will kill us. Who would let their daughter play with a convicted child molester? It is folly! Put to death...purge the evil from your presence. Or the Lord will vomit you into the fires of eternal torture.

Monday, June 19

The Bane of Open-Mindedness

        The law of the Lord is perfect,
        reviving the soul;
        the testimony of the Lord is sure,
        making wise the simple (Psa 19.7)

The Hebrew word translated “simple” in this verse comes from a root that describes an open door. The Old Testament saints viewed a simple-minded person as having an open door in the intellect. Did you ever hear somebody say, “I’m open-minded”? An Old Testament Jew would say, “Close it.” In their way of thinking, a simpleton was someone who was literally open-minded - unable to keep anything in or out. The same Hebrew term is used often in the Proverbs to identify the naive person, the undiscerning, nondiscriminating, inexperienced, and uninformed fool. According to the psalmist, then, Scripture - the sure, reliable, trustworthy, unwavering testimony from God about Himself - comes to the one who is simple and makes that one wise. (John MacArthur, Counseling, 207).

Friday, June 16

Does Poverty in the USA Eliminate Action Elsewhere?

One more thing to add:

Someone may protest that we dare not go somewhere to stop a tyrannical ruler when thousands of people are starving here in the USA. I’m not so sure I buy this logic. Should we only take part in universal campaigns against wrong when the house is in order? When would that be? We better lock up our ports and hold off on international travel, then, so that we can focus our attention to our problems here.

Thoughts? Rebuttals? Rebukes?

Thursday, June 15

A Political Rant

Okay, more of a question. I like to throw out some political stuff every now and then because I figure by doing so I can:
1) Learn more humility by revealing my inability to discuss such matters
2) Get some feedback from others to see where my thinking is off
3) Hopefully get at some essential issue to theology and its place in this matter
4) Learn more humility

I was listening to Anderson Cooper tonight as he interviewed a Republican from Georgia (not very articulate, but passionate) and Kucinich from Ohio. Kucinich made a pretty good point in the fact that Iraq made no attack on the United States. Therefore, according to international law, the USA should not have initiated war with Iraq.

With that said, my question has to do with the fact that don’t we (as an able-bodied people) have some obligation to right wrongs in other countries. That is, it is a known fact that Saddam Hussein was tyrannical and torturous to his own people. A horrible dictator. It reminds me of Nazi Germany in many ways. They were exterminating people within their own political boundaries. World governments were criticized for not doing something earlier than they had.

Does this not fit the same mold? Some may say: Why not go after North Korea? Why not a number of other countries? The United States just wants oil?

First, the third question delves into the area of motives. Who are you to judge a man’s motives. You have to deal with what is actually done and said. It is thin rationale, indeed, to say that you “know” that the reason for x is based on someone’s motive (when that has not been stated...ever). Second, who is to say that other countries will not be held accountable by the other world governments. Third, granted, I do not like the fact that the troops in the Middle East are predominantly from the USA. But does the fact that a few countries are pushing this ahead preclude the necessity of those with the means to do something about it?

Some More Fotos From Damascus

Here are a couple of my favorite places I visited in Damascus...

PS - I think I am becoming a flickr fan. Please feel free to leave comments!

Wednesday, June 14

Fotos from Damascus

I just uploaded some fotos from my trip to the Middle East. I will try to post updates in chronological order. For now visit my Damascus Album and I will be posting more when I get time. Feel free to make comments on my flickr site.

Why Mormonism Fails

Here is a document from a friend of mine that you can download that asks 50 questions for the next Mormon that knocks on your door.

Mormonism is dangerous not only because it is wrong, but because it is deceptive. Claiming the name of Jesus in your title and passing yourself off as a “Christian” group is wicked.

New Jonathan Edwards Center Blog

Check it out

Also check out their website.

Thursday, June 8

Ungrateful Expatriates

For the record, these reflections aren’t necessarily reflections on individuals in the group I went with; but they are reflections from the empty spaces in my head. Observations I made and further thoughts regarding life experience in general will contribute to some of these reflections. Others will be directly related to the trip (these I believe will be obvious).

When you first travel overseas and fall in love with a culture you begin to degrade the culture and place that formed you as a person. That is, one of the things I loved in Syria and Lebanon was the amazing hospitality of the folks we met. Knowing us for a few minutes, the locals offered us into their homes and offered tea. Not many people in the States would do this.

However when we travel overseas we shouldn’t quickly buy into our romanticized vision of the way things are. For instance, while the people are hospitable there are plenty of other walls to relationship that are present. Don’t speak wrongly of the government. While my time on an interpersonal level was limited, I know that if I had spent a couple of weeks in the countries I enjoyed I would soon find issues that I would change.

The United States has definitely got its issues, but I will take them over any other country at this point. The freedom of speech and ability to move up a socio-economic ladder make it more palatable than others I have known in my short existence.

Tuesday, June 6

Interpersonal Communication

A word from Joe Thorn:

Here’s a piece of advice for Christian bloggers. Please stop trying to be the theological version of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et al. Regardless of the merits of their arguments, the attitude of such political pundits kills any real ability to communicate with people who may think differently. Persuasion generally does not result. I understand it in the political world. It’s the world for crying out loud. Pride and arrogance are values. But in the church, I find the approach nauseating, and all together unlike our Savior.

I found this the case while dialoguing with those who think substantially different than myself. As some of you know, I can get worked up about certain things - and have to apologize sometimes when my zeal becomes sin.

When I spoke with those from other seminaries I thought about the purpose of my trip. I wanted to learn from the locations and from the people. Listening was difficult as some arguments seemed to be weak. But I listened nonetheless. As I have experienced in the blogosphere, it is too easy to blast someone who says something you think is totally unfounded on the Scriptures. But blasting someone for the sake of truth does not justify the wicked use of words. Truth without humility fails to be truth. Instead, it becomes a justification for pride. It becomes the wedge in the door of our minds to defecating speech.

He's Back!!

“The best part about traveling is coming home.“ Someone said this on the trip the night before leaving Greece and I have to agree. It is good to be home. Seeing my wife has been the highlight of being home. A good cup of coffee this morning with blueberry breakfast cake and good conversation, what more could you ask for?

I got in last night a little after 10pm. Slept like a baby, as I didn’t do so on the flight from Athens to Paris to Atlanta.

Cut my hair (although I am thin up top, there is plenty of wild growth around the edges), took a second shower to get the traveling film off my body, a second load of laundry is washing, papers are sorted and books are calling me to be read. (I start classes in a couple of weeks.)

Thank you to the faithful who have checked in while I was gone. Blogging was not as easy as I had thought while overseas. Internet wasn’t always available and when it was I was beat up by all the traveling we were doing. We stayed in a new place almost every night. Needless to say, I have plenty to reflect on. Three weeks in the Middle East, visiting archaeological digs and dialoguing with folks of many different persuasions makes for good thoughts. I will be posting thoughts and fotos as I get the time. (The trick will be to label all this stuff.)

Again, it is good to be home!
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