Friday, December 31, 2010

The Old Mission Field - Gene Veith

I came across this article from an old copy of Tabletalk.  Particularly I love how Dr. Veith closes the article, in terms of revising our perspective on international missions:

But we would do well to think of ourselves in the same way we used to think about the lost people of the mission field. We have become the new heathen. We Americans are the ones now in thrall to primitive superstitions, such as believing in the power of positive thinking and having faith in ourselves. We are the ones held back by a materialistic worldview that has little conception of the supernatural. We are the ones with brutal customs, such as aborting our infants, neglecting our children, and abandoning and sometimes euthanizing our elders. We have simple, pounding music, and we are uneducated about the realities outside of our tribe. With our limited mind-set, we have trouble grasping the truths of Scripture.
But the grace of God brings the light of Jesus Christ into heathen darkness — even into our heathen darkness.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Romans 8:38 and Eternal Security

Here's a link to a message by Phil Johnson on eternal security. I will admit that the fifth point of Calvinism - the perseverance of the saints - remains the one of the five that I have the most trouble with. Even election I'm fine with, but the teaching that no genuine believer can ever leave the faith is one I do find myself wrestling with from time to time, especially when you know of people who, once vibrant in the faith, have let it lapse. Maybe the genuine faith wasn't there to begin with (1 John 2:19) but it still remains one of those I toss around in my head. Can one be a 4.5-point Calvinist? :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another fun description for Paedobaptists (from W. R. Downing of Free Grace Baptist Church)

I was listening to an excellent message W. R. Downing on a sermonaudio message from Free Grace Baptist, on the subject of Zacchaeus, but somewhat off-topic, the opening of the sermon (I'm guessing this was some sort of bridge conversation from the previous class) has Pastor Downing describing a term for paedobaptists as "Paedokefalosrhantizo" (forgive the spelling - still learning some of the Greek nuinaces):

paedo - infant
kefalos - the head
rhantizo - sprinkles

I like this. I need to remember this next time I chat with one of my Presbyterian friends... :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dr. Michael Oh and "Why I Didn't Go to Westminster Theological Seminary"

A brief yet convicting message delivered by Dr. Michael Oh at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, PA, in which he challenges WTS to be more globally focused, particularly in light of the "1040 window", a term new to me, that refers to the area across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator, an area of the 55 least evangelized countries, with 97% of their population lives within this area.

Dr. Oh's message addresses the need for theological training and Christian ministry with a focus towards this area, even urging the listeners to consider giving a tithe of years of service to this under-evangelized area.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Kings 18: 36-37

The following is a devotional I wrote years ago for Alpha-Omega:

Prayer is foundational in the life of a believer. It is our means of communicating directly with our creator. Throughout the Bible we read many examples of the power and importance of prayer. A notable example
from the Old Testament is that of the life of Elijah. In I Kings we read about how Elijah was able to perform incredible miracles such as calling down fire from heaven and restoring a widow's child to life again, all accomplished by God's power through prayer. Elijah trusted in God and called on Him during time
of trial, such as when he faced off against the fifty prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Even in a very frightening situation in which he was alone and seriously outnumbered, Elijah's prayer was one of complete and total devotion to God, in which he asked of God for a display of His power before the false prophets, wicked King Ahab and the multitudes of Israel:

“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so there people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (I Kings 18: 36-37)

God responded to Elijah's prayer, displayed His might to the assembly, and brought about change in the heart of Israel (vs. 39). And just as Elijah was consistent in his prayer throughout his ministry, we too should continue to be persistent in our own prayers (I Thes. 5:17), knowing that God hears our
prayers and knows all of our needs and wants.  And while not all prayers are answered, we know that sometimes God does not answer our prayers for a specific reason, the reason not always known to us. This can be difficult to understand sometimes, especially when the unanswered prayer is in regards to needs of a friend or family member. But we understand that as we faithfully bring our petitions to God, we ask that “God's will be done” over that of our own wants and desires, and by doing so we fully put our faith in God to provide for our needs.  So continue to pray fervently, both privately and with one another, and when you bring your petitions to God, rely on Him totally for all of your needs. Remember that God speaks to us through his Word, the Bible, and we respond to that message to God through our prayers. It's an awesome two-way communication that we get to share with the sovereign Creator of the universe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nine Marks Church Search

Mark Dever's Nine Marks site offers a comprehensive church search directory, with the caveat that the churches listed are self-selected through affirming both the 9Marks mission statement and the T4G Affirmations & Denials, having been minimally screened by 9Marks staff.  The directory is fairly comprehensive, and I'm glad to see Oak Ridge Reformed Baptist listed as well.  A handy reference if you need to relocate and are looking for a like-minded church.

Exodus 20:7

Here's a link to a sermon by Phil Johnson on the third commandment, and the usage of God's name with good taste and Biblical propriety.  In the message, Pastor Johnson talks about how using God's name lightly destroys reverence for what is holy and pure, and when you use God's name lightly or make jokes about Christ, what is reflected is a lack of fear for God and a defiance against the third commandment.

When you call yourself a "Christian", you are taking the name of the Lord and using it for yourself, and while there is nothing wrong with this, you need to ACT the way that Christ would have acted in order to be using the name correctly.  In the commandment, don't "take" the name of God talks about don't pick up/lift it up/use it in some form or fashion. To do it in vain means to do it in a purposeless, hollow way.  If you aren't actually speaking to God, or specifically referencing his name, you should not use it.

The commandment also branches out into flippant usage of swearing, not profanity, but expressions like "I swear on a stack of Bibles", etc. Jesus confronted the Pharisee's should avoid flippant oaths, and passages like James 5:12 that speak about "Do not swear" but let your "yes be yes", yet at the same time, there are places for solemn oaths (marriage, or oaths made to God.) All oaths are solumn promises in which we call God to be our witness.
God's name can also be used in vain in our thoughts and deeds.  To pray wrongly (superficial praying, or praying for the wrong thing) can also be seen as a misuse of the third commandment.  If you stand in corporate prayer in the church but instead just flip through the bulletin or think other thoughts, this is a form of taking the Lord's name in vain.  Singing praise songs without meaning the words, or thinking about something else, is misusing God's name. 
Even if praying carelessly or meaninglessly over a meal, the Lord's name is being misused.  Simply reciting Jesus' name at the end of the prayer doesn't make it more effective.  Prayer in Jesus name means praying for that which he approves, that is consistent with his character.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wayne Grudem - Systematic Theology - MP3s

Here's a link to a treasure trove of Dr. Grudem's lessons in the Christian Essentials class, taken from his book, Systematic Theology. Grudem is fantastic and his systematic theology is a wealth of good information. This is another one of those sites where it can be handy to have an install of DownThemAll! to download all of the MP3s and load them into your MP3 player.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2 Cor. 4 and the Crackerhead

Fishhawk Droppings is a fascinating theological odyssey/personal journey posted by my friend Jerry.  I found out about this a long time ago after finding his primary blog, As the Crackerhead Crumbles.  The thing that I've respected about Jerry is his overwhelmingly positive attitude and glowing good-nature to all who visit, to both the friendly visitors and the nay-sayers. 

Well, he has another blog, FishHawk Droppings, that is worth checking out.  The blog is actually a long, detailed personal narrative that starts from Jerry's childhood and throughout a fascinating and tumultuous series of life events, and the account reads like a very dramatic novel.  But the blog narrative eventually segues into a different direction, and transitions into an imaginary dialog between the "Crackerhead" and a "minister", with the Crackerhead as Jerry and the "minster" being a fictitious character, but the dialog based on real situations.  The conversation is an interesting one, and its fascinating to follow the back and fourth of the characters.  The Minister definitely seems to have more of a skeptical edge, and the Crackerhead responds to a number of questions posed in a lively discussion, well-documented with Scriptural texts.  Now I don't always agree with everything that Jerry poses in the discussion, and I've left a few comments along the way expressing this, but nevertheless I think its a great dialog and I'd recommend that you check it out.

As the Crackerhead Crumbles (miscellaneous topics: religion, music reviews, blog recommendations, etc.)
FishHawk Droppings (personal odyssey/theological dialog with the Crackerhead and the Minister)

I asked Jerry about a verse/passage that summaries what his site is primarily about, and he mentioned 2 Cor. 4, which I think serves as an excellent passage about looking beyond present situations to the eternal glories that await us,

2 Cor 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Proverbs 8:36 and the Long War Againsts Babies

Proverbs 8:36 "But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”

Another link

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Daniel Akin - Resources for Pastors and Teachers of the Bible

Link to Daniel Akin's website, the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The site includes a lot of information, including a number of audio sermons for downloading.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hope Presybterian Church in Grayslake, IL

I was recently at the OPC church directory and was interested to see a link for Hope Presbyterian in Grayslake, IL. Although I'm no longer Presbyterian (largely over baptism, but other issues as well), I remember this Orthodox Presbyterian Church well and it was a blessing to be a part of this fellowship years ago. Pastor Dennis Disselkoen was one of the first pastors I'm familiar with who taught in a very straight-forward exegetical teaching style - even on holidays, if he was working through a particular book, he'd keep going through that book in lieu of a Christmas-themed sermon.  I liked that.

We attended Hope back in the early 00's, as it was the first church we attended when we moved to the north Chicago suburbs. My Dad was formerly with the OPC, so it was a denomination I was very familiar with, including it's fondness for the Trinity hymnal and the Westminster standards. The church was small at that time, and meeting in a high school (shortly after that in a store front location, if I recall.) The attendance was small but the teaching was solid, and I'm glad to see that Pastor Disselkoen has some MP3 audio sermons linked on the church site.  A note, though, is that the page is currently setup so that if you go to the audio page, it starts to load up each message into the cache, so if you have a brutally old computer like I do, this slows things down.  So I suggest going to the page, use DownThemAll! and download the MP3s, then route back to a different page of the site while it runs.

Anyhow, Hope OPC was a very good mission work and the teaching was solid.  Of course, they subscribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith, of which I have a few issues here and there (baptism and other things.)  I've actually been working through G. I. Williamson's study guide to the Confession recently, and while I think he does a good job elaborating on what the Confessions talk about, just like with the Presbyterian views I just have a hard time making some of the doctrine jive with scripture.  Probably more on that in a later post.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Kings 17: 1-7

Phil Johnson has an excellent message posted online about the topic of Biblical manliness, using I Kings 17 specifically and the account of Elijah in the wilderness as a prime example of a manly Biblical figure. Living in the wilderness and surviving on the water of a drying creek and whatever the ravens delivered definitely counts as roughing it as far as I'm concerned.  In discussing the topic of "defeminizing the church", Pastor Phil points out the obvious fact that there are no "soft, effeminate" heroes of the faith. Even Jesus, often portrayed as the blue-eyed, meek-and-mild peace-lover, would in fact often provoke arguments and challenges to others, and wasn't afraid to bundle together a whip to drive out the money changers.  So we read how Elijah really stands out as one of the "tough-guys" of the Bible, wearing fur and leather and living in the woods under a juniper plant (which Pastor Phil describes as a scratchy, avoidable plant you wouldn't normally want to be under.)

With Elijah we see him initially appear on the scene, confront Ahab and pronounce no rain for three years. But then, instead of going into any other sort of action, he is then sent out to live three years in the wilderness, completely cut off from culture and society (in a situation similar to that of others in the Bible who also spent a measure of time in wilderness isolation, such as Moses and Jesus.) To us, this may look like wasted opportunity and wasted time to our carnal eyes, but this time in the wilderness was a time of trust, and a time of private instruction. Often the outworking of God's providence can seem to work to detriment in our eyes, but as was the case of Elijah, God used this time to develop and prepare Elijah for his ministry work. From this time of isolation, Elijah emerged with faith stronger than ever.

We can often question why God would work through situations and scenarios that we don't understand, such as trial and persecution, but God's providence often works in situations we do not understand to help develop and unfold our character, and to further strengthen us for His service.

Other Phil Johnson sermons

The Village Church - Audio Sermons

There are a ton of MP3 audio sermons for Dallas-based Village Church available free online. I found out about this church through one of Mark Dever's podcasts (I think it was an interview with Matt Chandler) and I was impressed with the direction of this ministry (and, who knows, the way my job searching is going, with contact from recruiters in Ft. Worth, I might very well be in Dallas someday and visiting this church at some point.)

Anyhow, for sites like this with plentiful MP3s on one page, I recommend an excellent Firefox plug-in called "DownThemAll!", that with one click basically kicks off a massive, queued download process to grab all of the MP3s on a page and save them to one location on your computer. Now, on my dusty old Sony Vaio that does tend to make the PC drag, so I usually kick it off and go to get a snack (yeah, I really need a new computer...)

Fire Of Molech And America

Here's a link to a message by Pastor Charles Garrison on the topic of Molech, particularly in light of the abortion issue in America. I think this message is a good overview but could have gone a little bit further in addressing the larger issue of self-vs-children in our nuclear 2-kid-only church society today.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hebrews 2:14 and the Hypostatic Union

Hebrews 2:14
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil

Some notes from a message by Douglas F. Kelly of RTS on the topic of the hypostatic union.  I don't always agree with everything Dr. Kelly speaks about (particularly on infant baptising) but these notes were particularly good.

The manhood, or humanity, of Christ, was and is necessary for salvation.  Hebrews speaks about how it behooved him to become flesh.  If a view of docetism is held, then he is still far away from us.

When we die, what will we offer God?  The answer:  Jesus' obedience.  Jesus is who God most essentially is.  He is the character of God.  If the diety of Christ is denied, then the foundation of the Christian faith is undermined.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Corinthians 11 and Why I am not a Methodist

I was recently at a Methodist church in town (not for worship, but rather for coffee at their poshly-decorated coffee nook/gift shop), and while there I took a look at some of their documents and doctrine, and more or less confirmed what I already knew about Methodism, and affirmed why I am NOT a Methodist.  It has less to do with their ordination of women (which, of course I have some I Tim. 2 issues with) or their Armenian traditions (which I have some Romans 8 issues with) but more over the Weslean tradition and Wesley's 25 articles. Per this one:

Article XVII—Of Baptism

Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.

I've yet to see from Scripture where baptism of children or infants is illustrated or instructed.  From the churches site, "Those that are baptized as children must make the choice to confirm their belief in Christ to continue as members of the church."  To continue as members?  I do not understand the strange idea of a half-sacrament.  Scripture seems to give a solid example of baptism of professing adults, not children.  How can baptism be done with the idea that a confirmation needs to follow separately?

The other article that caught my attention was sixteen, on the "sacraments":

Article XVI—Of the Sacraments

Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God’s good will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him.

I've come to question recently the usage of the word "sacrament", since, by definition, it's held to be a means of divine grace, and when individuals partake of the Lord's Supper, or baptism, they may, or may not, be partaking in these ordinances with the right heart attitude (a non-believer could ask to be baptized - likewise a non-believer could take the elements of the Supper).  So in these situations, is grace ALWAYS understood to be imparted?  I can think of individuals who have walked from the faith but yet were baptized as infants.  Was grace still imparted in that infant baptism?  I would argue not - not just because I do not recognize infant baptism as a valid administation of the baptism ordinance, but because the implication becomes that grace was poured out and essentially WASTED.  I don't think that's right, and this also seems to clash with the reformed doctrine of limited atonement. 

Another thought:  per MW, the English word sacrament is from the Latin sacramentum, which means to make holy, or to consecrate.  Yet are the elements made holy?  Or is the meal, as an ordinance, one of remembrance?  It feels a little like treading into glorifying the meal and the components of the meal, more than the message of the meal, and understanding, per I Cor. 11, the propriety of worship and the proper observation of the meal and preparation of the heart.  This reminds me of another fault with this particular UM church, as on it's site, regarding the Lord's Supper, the warning was merely, "God offers this relationship to everyone, so all who desire to receive are welcome to participate."  All who desire to receive, regardless of genuine faith and repentance?  I was at a UM church long ago, and I recall how, as the elements were about to be distributed, the pastor gave the feeble warning of, "Only partake of these elements if you are a Christian, or thinking of becoming one..."  I'm sure that was right out of I Cor. 11.

There are other things, but those are some of the principle reasons I'm not a Methodist.  Another note from the site was about "If You Have Children", followed by instructions on where to put them for church (because, why would you want them with you during the worship service?  That's just silly to worship together as a family.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mark 12: 13-17

Here's an excellent message by Mark Devers of Capital Hill Baptist on the subject of "Jesus Paid Taxes", from Mark 12:13-17:

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk.  And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”  And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him.

The rule was that it was one denarius for each man, and the Jew's hated this, because each coin was basically proclaiming Caesar as lord.  The goal here, then, was a trap for Jesus: an either-or scenario of popularity (favoring the tax) versus potential death (opposing the tax as a revolutionary.)  Jesus here gives a brilliant answer in which He gives a directive to both be obedient to government, as well as giving to God what is Gods.  At the same time, Christ is also unhitching his followers from any particular nation.  There is no "Christian country", for Christ's kingdom is not of this earth.  By unhitching His followers from any nation, the ethnic phase is now done, meaning that there is no more need for circumcision (and likewise infant baptism, since there is no longer a national connection.)  Being a follower of Christ is part of a national identity that we share with brothers and sisters globally.

I-45 and Hope

45 & Hope from Woodlands Point Community Church on Vimeo.
I-45 is a ministry that reaches our to the men and women living under the overpasses of I-45 north of Houston. I've had a chance to meet Dave once, who is the vice-chairman of the group, and they are doing a great thing here by God's grace.  I follow and pray for the email updates I receive from this group, and likewise they can be followed Facebook as well. Their site is here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Romans 8:15

Romans 8:15 (New International Version)
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"

In our adoption , we are chosen by God and brought in, given full access to the Father.  The forgiveness though Christ is the doorway to adoption, and forgiveness marks our authenticity as children of God.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I John 2:19 and the Osteens

I picked up a copy of the freebie magazine 'Health and Fitness Sports Magazine' at HEB the other day, because I was curious to read what theological insights Victoria Osteen would offer.  As it turns out, in the center of this magazine (which is little more than a massive ad for cosmetic surgery, with freakish adverts featuring faces that look like they are straight out of the Bruce Willis "Surrogates" movie) was a one-page article with Victoria, in which she makes no mention whatsoever of her faith, her walk with Christ, or anything remotely theological.  Not that I was expecting her to give a lucid definition of justification or antinomianism or anything like that, but something remotely spiritual would have been ideal, considering that she is, I believe, a "pastor" along with Joel.

Thinking of the Osteens reminds me of something I heard once, and that was the idea that, if legitimate persecution ever tragically came to our land, would churches like the Osteen's even have one person in them on a Sunday? (and that's including Joel and Victoria).  Is the entertaining music and motivational "You can do anything!" message really worth potential persecution?  In a situation like that, that I pray never comes upon our country, I could see people leaving in droves from Joel's "teaching", abandoning shallow, fragile faith based on Joel and Victoria's teaching, along the lines of I John 2:19 (KJV) "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us."  I pray for the Osteens, that there could be a genuine revival in the hearts of this couple, and that they can turn to actually teaching the Bible instead of hollow, deceitful self-help pabulum.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Corinthians 15:22

Our trip to the children's doctor last week brought to mind some ideas for this post.  We had a long discussion with the doctor about the vaccine/autism controversy, and our doctor, while very cautious in the administration of vaccines to small kids, mentioned that in her own research, the rapid rise of autism shouldn't be blamed entirely on vaccines, but instead that there are a number of environmental factors that play a part: toxins in food, water, the air, our clothing, etc.
As we discussed this, it really brought home to me the reminder that we do live in a fallen world, and as, part of the punishment and curse of sin is the effects we experience from the fallen world.

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

There can be a temptation in our lives to think that, if we feel good, we have things and stuff and have no problems, that we are in a way indestructible. But the reality is that we are under the taint and curse of Adam, and as such, the world that we live in is equally fallen, leaving us prone to sickness and illness from our environment and other factors. No matter how clean we scrub the earth and sky, and how well we take care of our bodies, all of us are under sin's curse, of which the outcome for all of us is death.

But praise God for the gift of Jesus Christ, and his free gift of grace, shared for us on the cross of Calvary! While our mortal bodies are still prone to the ravages of sin and death, we have hope in the resurrection of our Savior!

Now while we live by faith and know that there is life everlasting beyond our mortal bodies, at the same time, this assurance of grace and salvation should not make us cynical to the responsibility to be good stewards of our health and the planet. The body...

“ a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God” (I Cor. 1:19)

and the earth...

“ the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1)

We have a responsibility to care for both, not under legalistic obligation, but rather doing so to give God the glory and honor. We should be mindful of caring for the bodies he's given to us, and also do what we can to take care of the earth, while being cautious not to fall into the trap of worshiping self or the earth.

We have remarkable designed bodies, and the world around us is beautiful and wonderfully made. We should continuously give praise and glory to the God who gives us our lives and a world to love Him in, all the while looking forward to the return of our Savior and the new life to come.

Various False Gods that continue to influence Christians

Some of my notes about various false gods that continue to have influences in the lives of Christians. Although primarily identified in the Old Testament, these false dieties still tend to have a strong influence in the lives of believers today:

Asherah - was a leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon, a wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility.  Commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or at places marked by wooden pole.  The theme here would be the god of sexuality which, judging from television, printed media and the internet, is a very powerful false god in the world today, distracting attention and time from the lives of believers.  Adult media and pornography can have devastating influences in the lives of believers.

Molech - The name of the idol god of the Ammonites, to which human victims, particularly young children were offered in sacrifice.  Its image was a hollow brazen figure, with the head of an ox, and outstretched human arms. It was heated red hot by a fire from within, and the little ones placed in its arms to be slowly burned, while to prevent the parents from hearing the dying cries, the sacrificing priests beat drums.  Although the idea of child sacrifice may initially seem unlikely today, the fact is that the abortion culture, even in the church (primarily seen through influences such as abortifacents like the birth control pill).  Additionally, the idea of child-sacrifice isn't that alien of a concept when you consider how many Christian families will sacrifice children, or having children, for the sake of careers or material pursuits.  It seems as if the common thinking in the church today is that 1-2 children are the acceptable norm, and I question sometimes if many Christians have just accepted societies standards while ignoring God's original command to Adam, one never revoked, to "go fourth, be fruitful and multiply."

Mammon - A common Aramaic word (mamon) for riches, found in Mt 6:24 and in Lk 16:9,11,13. In these passages, mammon merely means wealth, and is called "unrighteous," because of the abuse of riches.  The love of money and material possessions also has a strong influence in the church today, and for many believers, self included, there needs to be a continual seeking of ways to flee from the entices of this false god.  I struggle with this one the most, personally - not necessarily a love of money, but the sense of seeing a false sense of security offered in money, employment, savings, etc.  As the Word says, we should not store up treasures on earth, but rather treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Matt. 5: 21-26

Some quick notes on Matthew 5 and the topic of murder. In these verses, Jesus isn't telling the Pharisees that they had the wrong view towards murder, but rather that they were misinterpreting these rules and laws. The law is built upon the word of God and has moral implications. In Hebrew, there are seven words for "kill", and Jesus reminds them here that this applies to all.

The jurisdictional explanation of v. 22 shows Jesus claiming the jurisdiction as the extreme authority. V. 23-26 speaks about how, if you're at the altar and remember a wrongdoing, then leave and go. The expectation is that you will return after reconciling with your brother. Make peace quickly.

Isaiah 57:3-9 and false gods

"But you—come here, you sons of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
Whom are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars? You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags.
The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion; they, they are your lot.
Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings and offered grain offerings. In the light of these things, should I relent?
You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill; there you went up to offer your sacrifices.
Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked on their nakedness.
You went to Molech with olive oil and increased your perfumes. You sent your ambassadors far away; you descended to the grave itself!
(From NIV)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Romans 6:1

Some notes on Romans 6:1, and the concept of continuing to sin for grace.  Not sure where these notes came from (I think it was a message from a Dallas Reformed Seminary mp3.)

Perfectionism is not taught in the Bible, and yet on the flip side is the attitude that sin is not all that serious.  The writer of Hebrews instructed to "pursue holiness".  Its important to understand the idea being that sanctification is just as important as justification.  Hebrews speaks especially about being set apart for God.

Sanctification of God, taken from Ezekiel, speaks about God being set apart from false gods.
Sanctification of man, in the Old Testament, was illustrated in separating from what was unclean.
Sanctification of the redeemer we see in the example of how Jesus sanctified self (John 17).

Sanctification is ultimately about the believer being set apart more and more for God.  This is a continuing process solely through the indwelling and working of the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 22: 1-19

Some older sermon notes from Pastor Paul from last year, from his teaching on Genesis 22, on the sacrifice of Isaac:

The test put before Abraham is to sacrifice his only son, the ultimate test.  God never had a plan to have Isaac sacrificed:  rather, this was a testing of faith.  In this situation there is no mention of Sarah being told - likely she was not.  What happens here is that Abraham sets out resolutely to obey.

In Hebrews, the writer states that Abraham didn't have it all figured out, but he know God could raise Isaac from the dead.  The father is resolute to obey, and the son is submissive to the father.  The sacrifice took place on Mt. Moriah, the same place where David sacrificed for his people.  Moriah is later the site of Israel's temple in Jerusalem.

God's test here is about substitution.  "the angel of the Lord" (v. 15) is considered by some to be the pre-incarnate Christ.  In John 8:56, "Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day", a reference here to Genesis 22.  This chapter paints a picture of the sacrifice that God makes for use.  Christ's death is the pinnacle of our faith.  Trials in life are reminders of what Christ endured.  Abraham understood this, and we all deserve to be Isaacs on the altar because of our sin.

After the sacrifice is stopped, God reaffirms the covenant (v. 17).  The provisions are for blessing, increased descendants, and to possess the land of his enemies.  Abraham was willing to give up family for his walk with God.  Sometimes our relationships are separated by God's will, and obedience to Christ may lead us and our family ultimately to persecution and death.  Abraham knew of this, and his example is one of faithfulness to God in the most extreme situation of testing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ruth 2

Some sermon notes from when Justin spoke on the second chapter of Ruth. In Ruth, an amazing tapestry of redemptive history unfolds.

Justin touched on the Hebrew word "Hesed", meaning God's covenant love and complete obligation to provide. And in Ruth, we see how God over-abundantly meets the needs for Ruth and Boaz.

In the Old Testament Jewish cannon, Ruth is located between Proverbs and Psalms, which is significant, as Proverbs ends with chapter 31 (the "Godly woman" chapter) then goes into Ruth, then continues into Psalms, with Psalm 1 speaking about the characteristics of the "Godly man". The book of Ruth also caps off with genealogy of David, and then leads into Psalms, which is basically all about David.

Hesed is seen in Ruth characterized first by Ruth's hope in God. We see her meekness and submissiveness to God's providence. Ruth asks God, "
Why have I found favor?", reflecting an attitude of gratefulness (especially relevant in our age of greed, want and selfishness.) We don't deserve anything good, and any good thing we have is solely as a gift of God.

Hesed is also seen in the life of Boaz, as the life of Boaz is one centered on God (described in Jewish writings as "A mighty man strong in the Torah".) His chief concern for his workers is that they know God and his blessing falls upon them. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" and Boaz follows this: not just through legalistic faithfulness but through heaping blessings on Ruth and Naomi. A real test of a person is how they reply to the marginalized, the needy and the poor.

We see hesed in Boaz in his respect for Ruth and for a desire to protect her. Boaz had a willingness to provide, and gave without expecting anything in return.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Genesis Chapter Summary

High level summary of every chapter of Genesis, from some recent notes I took. These are all in my own words, and not just lifted from the chapter titles in the Bible (although some are likely very similar)

Ch. 1 - Song of Creation
Ch. 2 - Adam and Eve and Marriage
Ch. 3 - The Fall and the Promise of Redemption
Ch. 4 - Cain kills Abel
Ch. 5 - Geneology of Adam to Noah
Ch. 6 - The Baptism of the earth
Ch. 7 - Flood
Ch. 8 - God's Covenant
Ch. 9 - God blessed Noah and his sons. Ham's sin
Ch.10 - Nations Descendant from Noah
Ch. 11 - Tower of Babel
Ch. 12 - Callof Abram. Abrahamic covenant (land, seed, blessing)
Ch. 13 - Abraham leaves Egypt with wealth and riches. Abram and Lot separate.
Ch. 14 - Abram rescues Lot. Melkizedek blessed Abram.
Ch. 15 - Covenant Restated. God passes between pieces of animals.
Ch. 16 - Sarah and Hagar. Hagar flees with Ishmael and encounters angel of the Lord
Ch. 17 - Covenant renewed. Isaac birth promised.
Ch. 18 - Three visitors. Abraham pleads for Sodom.
Ch. 19 - Destruction of Sodom. Lot's wife dies. Lots daughters beget Moabites and Ammonites.
Ch. 20 - Abimelech. Abraham lies about Sarah.
Ch. 21 - Birth of Isaac
Ch. 22 - Abraham tested
Ch. 23 - Sarah dies
Ch. 24 - Isaac and Rebecca.
Ch. 25 - Birth of Esau and Jacob.
Ch. 26 - Isaac and Abimilech
Ch. 27 - Jacob is blessed
Ch. 28 - Jacob works for Laban
Ch. 29 - Jacob marries Leah and Rachael
Ch. 30 - Jacob has children
Ch. 31 - Jacob flees Laban
Ch. 32 - Jacob's repentance
Ch. 33 - Jacob meets Esau again
Ch. 34 - Detour with Dinah and Shechemites
Ch. 35 - Jacob renamed
Ch. 36 - Esau's descendants
Ch. 37 - Joseph's dreams
Ch. 38 - Strange Judah/Tamar/Onan detour
Ch. 39 - Potiphar's wife causes problems for Joseph
Ch. 40 - Joseph interprets dreams of prisoners
Ch. 41 - Joseph interprets the Pharaoh's dream
Ch. 42 - Joseph's brothers head to Egypt
Ch. 43 - Joseph's brothers return home
Ch. 44 - Joseph tests his brothers
Ch. 45 - Joseph reveals his identity
Ch. 46 - Joseph's family goes to Egypt/Jacob and Joseph reunited
Ch. 47 - Jacob and family move to Egypt/famine
Ch. 48 - Jacob blesses Joseph's sons Ephriam and Manasseh
Ch. 49 - Jacob blesses his twelve sons/Jacob's death and burial
Ch. 50 - Joseph's death/Embalmed in Egypt/Buried in Shechem

Monday, October 4, 2010

Joshua 7

The sin of Achan from Joshua 7 shows all of Israel punished as the result of one man's sins. And while all of Israel was punished because of Achan's crime, it could very well be that many people were aware of the crime and did nothing about it, but simply kept silent. Or its also possible that they saw the plunder that Achan kept and, secretly approving, did nothing about it. The main message here is that there are no private, victimless crimes. All of Israel was held accountable to Achan's sinful act.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Darth Vader Exegesis

After recently reading this post at the Blessed Quietness website, it turns out that I'll be going to Hell unless I read the KJV version of the Bible, so I decided that following my last read of the Bible (the "heretical" NASB) I'd better give the KJV another go, if for no other reason than to sharpen up on my Shakespearean English (if not to avoid hellfire!)

Anyhow, I found that the library has an MP3 format of the AV that I could download and listen to while washing dishes at night. And this edition is actually pretty fascinating: the Old Testament is read by Alexander Scourby, who has a rich English accent (he sounds like a Beatrix Potter character) and the New Testament is read by none othen than Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones. His reading is actually fascinating, because as you listen you sort of visualize Darth Vader reading this aloud, sitting in that pod-thing in "Empire Strikes Back" (the thing he'd open up, tell off an Imperial admiral, then close again). In a strange way, its like you can visualize Vader reading a book like Romans out loud, maybe in a time-frame just prior to the end of "Return of the Jedi", and possibly pondering the words of Chapter 12 and contemplating turning from evil?

Romans 12:9 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

Luke, turn to the AV side of the force!
In any case, the narration is fascinating and James Earl Jones has a deep, engrossing voice that really makes the AV fascinating to listen to.  And of course, every time he introduces a chapter of "Luke", you can't help but think - oh, you know how the rest of it goes...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Luke 7:11-17

Some more Oak Ridge sermon notes from Luke 7:

The preface to the message was reinforcing that Jesus Christ has eternally existed with God the Father. We understand that creation is a trinitarian work, just as redemption is, and that God speaks things into existence and they exist.

In Luke 7 we read about Jesus raising to life the widows son. In this we see providentially timed "crowd of death" meeting the "crowd of life". To the reader, Christ's instruction to the widow to "stop crying" seems like a strange one, unless it was said by someone with the authority to restore life. From the passage, there is no indication that this woman knew Christ or that she had asked anything of him, but rather He has arrived with a mission to heal.

Luke 7 also touches on the principle of touching the dead/the "unclean", and the idea that touching unclean things makes the clean unclean, but Christ is clean, and when he touches the unclean things (us) we become clean again. In vs. 14, Jesus "went up and touched the coffin", restoring the child to life.

The people here recognized that Christ was similar to the prophets of the Old Testament, and there was excitement that, 400 years following the Old Testament, God was revealing his power again. This passage in Luke is the first account of Christ raising the dead to life again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Psalm 139

Some quick sermon notes from a few months ago:

In Psalm 139 David is praising God for the omni-aspects of his nature:
  • Omnipresent
  • Omnipotent
  • Omniscient
David acknowledges that he is unable to hide (in a negative sense), yet at the same time the positive aspect remains that he is never away from God's presence.

All of human life, even that of the unborn, is a miracle. In Psalm 139 David, contemplating the fetus in the womb, responds by giving thanks to God.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Basic Greek in 30 Minutes a Day

I've been (slowly) working through "Basic Greek in 30 Minutes a Day" by James Found. I picked this up at Lifeway, and I've been enjoying the fairly user-friendly introdcution to the Greek language presented in this workbook. Basically, the text is printed in a pulpy, worktext-style format where you fill in answers on most every page. The text starts out great, with very simplistic example of reading english words in greek (such as English words like "bat" written in greek characters) and slowly starts through exercises that introduce greek characters and words. The pace is nice and smooth for a linguistic dummy for me.

However, the book tends to take a deeper direction into Greek grammar around page 120+, and once you start getting into the nominative, genative stuff, my eyes start to glaze over. You know, it's not for lack of effort, but this stuff gets pretty hard! (good observation Captain Obvious!) But I'm going to keep on with this. What's remarkable is how, as you learn these words, you start to slowly (if in subtle ways) see the richness in the word usage within certain passages of scripture, as well as gaining an appreciation for semi-regular words you hear from time to time, in terms of tracing back to the Greek (scoliosis, anathema, etc, in addition to so many Biblical words).

Might be slow progress finishing this but I've enjoyed the experience so far.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Micah 6:8

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gen. 25:19-26

Some notes that I found recently on a Voddie sermon about Genesis 25:19-26. Voddie presenting a doctrinal overview of predestination in terms of the lives of Isaac, Esau and Jacob. The overview included a detailed look at Romans 9, as well a look at the London Baptist Confession.

Voddie mentioned how Genesis so far spoke tremendously about Abraham and his life, but we don't see much about Isaac. V. 20 gives a sneak peek of Laban, who will resurface later in the life of Jacob.
In terms of Isaac and Abraham, there are a number of parallels: Both dealt with issues of barrenness, in light of God's promise that they will be fathers of a prosperous nation. The distinction, however, is that Abraham, when told he would have a child at his old age, laughed at the promise. Abraham also turned to the sinful human option and had a child with Hagar, which was not God's plan. Isaac, on the other hand, when presented with a situation of a barren wife, fell on his face and prayed. Voddie specualted that, in light of his father's sin with Hagar, he directly witnessed the friction between his mother and Hagar and did not want to repeat this. Sounds completely logical to me.

Rebecca had two children, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was described in Hebrew as "akave" (going with the phonetic here) that means "heel-grabber", a reference to his character. The contention between the brothers is also reflective of contention between mother and father: Isaac was fond of Esau, particularly of the wild game that he caught, while Rebecca was fond of Jacob. Favoritism is never a good thing.

Romans 9 presents a doctrinal exposition of the life of Jacob and Esau. The issue of predestination can be a tricky, and difficult, one for me, but it is one that I find to be consistent with scripture. Voddie shared a series of passages from the London Baptist convention on the topic: those saved are chosen out of the good please of the will of God, while others are "left to act in their sin" and get what their sins deserve. It's not God's injustice that sends men to Hell, but man's want/bent to sin.

One of many challenges that arise is the question of, "If God has already predestined certain individuals, why share the gospel then?" The answer is because God told us to in His word, and because this is the means and process that God uses to call the elect. Voddie pointed out that an "arrogant Calvinist" should be a contradiction: "I'm saved and there's nothing in me God would have wanted to save." It's humbling.

Another question is, is this just? The answer is that it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy. Can what is made question the maker? God predestined us to adoption according to the council of His will:
John 5:21 - "The Son gives life to whom He will"
John 6:65 - "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

Otherwise, the alternative is that there are people who are smart enough, or holy enough, to "figure it out" moreso than other people. This emphasises human effort and initiative, moreso than the grace of God, and it's God's grace alone that makes us alive in Christ.

Romans 8 - "those whom he foreknew he also predestined" - you can't separate predestination from salvation. According to Lorraine Boetner, foreordination is the work of a wise and merciful heavenful father, as opposed to the working of blind, physicial fate.

Voddie also spoke about the "prescient" view and the fallacy of this viewpoint, that God's predestination of individuals is based on seeing into the future, and knowing from future actions that someone will be good or bad. The fallacy here is that God is basically little more than a time-traveler, and this takes away from His sovereignty. The prescient view can't explain Roman's 9 and how God could love one and hate another.

As far as applications presented, we as believers should adore God for His grace and NOT for our own ability. The wrong view is one of, "God saw that I would someday choose him", and commend me for being "smarter" than others to find the path to salvation.

Another point is that success in sharing the gospel does not depend on us. God has guaranteed the salvation of His elect. We should avoid over-introspection of whether or not we are of the elect, but rather our focus should be on repentance and believing the gospel. The same situation with our children: we should not fuss over worrying if our children are "elect" or not, but rather focus on sharing the gospel with them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Great Debate over Baptism and the Covenant (11 CDs)

The Great Debate over Baptism and the Covenant (11 CDs)

Linking this CD series by William Einwechter here as I felt this was a very convincing (and influential) series on the Scriptural foundation for believers baptism. This is an issue that, as a former Presbyterian, I've become strongly convinced is what Scripture defines Baptism is to be.

I was baptized as an unrepentant 3-month old in a liberal Presbyterian church in Philadelphia roungly 37 years ago, and in thinking back, I have to wonder where was the blessing of observing/experiencing this ordinance directly? I knew nothing of the joy of sharing a testimony and experiencing the waters of baptism, or of experiencing the symbolic death of the old self ("having been buried with him in baptism" Col. 2:12) and being raised up by the pastor out of the water, the pastor symbolizing Christ's redemptive role lifting me out of sin and into a newness of life. I loved my adult baptism, and the richness and symbolism of that ordinance has such importance in my love for God.

I just don't see infant baptism in scripture. I don't see how a man on a desert island could find a Bible, read it, learn it, and then somehow find the principle of sprinkling babies in this text (well, unless an R.C. Sproul Study Bible washed up on the shore...)

But most foundational, I can't see how infant baptism isn't a gross violation of the regulative principle. How can a practice that isn't explicitly defined in Scirpture be taken and instituted - and then even further, be called a sacrament? How can paedobaptists even know that God's grace will be imparted to a sinful, unrepentant infant? Isn't that somewhat akin to a Landmark church saying that they will host a "revival" on a certain day of the week - in other Words, just like paedobaptists, how can they know when and where the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit will take place? And I for one have known quite a number of people who, baptized as infants, have had no issues with walking away completely from their faith, with only a "half-sacrament" in place.

Anyhow, The Great Debate over Baptism series by William Einwechter is exceptional and informative and I would urge anyone who is divided on the issue to look into this series.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

9 Marks of a Healthy Church

Just finished reading "9 Marks of a Healthy Church" by Mark Dever, which was one of the lending books offered at our church's last family camp that I had a chance to check out. I was curious to read this from some various things I've heard about the book, in addition to my familiarity with the 9Marks website and some of Mark Dever's MP3 resources that I've downloaded from that site. I've appreciated his teaching and interview series, so it was great to actually read this book (which I worked into various lunchbreak reading times at work...)

9 Marks presents an excellent systematic breakdown of nine core principles that ideally should be foundational to a genuine church of Jesus Christ. Right off the bat the first mark is expositional preaching, and to me that's so refreshing to see this addressed foremost. During my time church-hopping it was such a drain to find church after church presenting topical teaching with very little Scripture actually used. Dever's emphasis on the exposition of scripture is so refreshing, and how I'd personally love to see this book fall into the hands of so many churches throughout the Woodlands area...

Further marks include sections devoted to the Gospel, evangelism, church discipline - all sections an excellent reference manual of key elements that the church should not be without. Even from my own lazyman lay perspective I was really convicted that not only are these fundamental elements that must be a Biblical church, but the emphasis becomes to examine the church that we are a part of to see if the church work is adhering to these principles (which, praise the Lord, the church I'm currently a member of is... in fact, I wouldn't have had this book to read (see Mark 8... erm, the ninth mark of 'Nine Marks', not Mark chapter 8.... :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Biblical Overview

Very high-level overview of the Bible from some recent sermon notes from Pastor Justin:

Genesis 1-2
- Creation
Genesis 3 - The Fall and the beginning of redemption
Exodus - Leaving Egyptian captivity/into the wilderness/God gives the Law on Mt. Sinai
Leviticus - Handbook of holiness
Numbers - a book beginning and ending with counting. Joshua and Caleb spy out the land. 40 years in the wilderness.
Deuteronomy - Moses, nearing death, redelivers the law.
Joshua - Entering the promised land. Israel used as God's instrument of justice.
Judges - "Everyone did what was right in their own eyes"
Ruth - introduction to the chronology of David
I-II Samuel - Introduces David
I-II Kings - Rise and fall of the Israelite kings. Emphasis on sin.
I-II Chronicles - Record the same history. Emphasis on good kings and good actions. Written a generation later.
Ezra/Nehemiah - The time after Babylon captivity. The Temple walls rebuilt during a time of the reign of the Persian empire.
Esther - the brave queen
Job - Faithfulness when suffering
Psalms - songs of David and others
Proverbs - Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiastes - Exceptions to Proverbs. "Everything equals nothing aside from God."
Song of Solomon - a love poem
Books of prophets - Israel wasn't keeping their covenants
Gospels - God's King is here!
Acts - Acts of the Holy Spirit
Rest of NT - explaining what just happened.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Adopted for Life - Dr. Russell Moore

The other weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Russell Moore speak at the 2010 Spring Conference, 'Adopted for Life', hosted by Grace Family Baptist church. We found out about this, providentially, through one of my wife's home school chat boards and, adoption being a topic we've both discussed many times over the years, we considered checking it out. But what really appealed to me was finding out that the sessions were being led by Dr. Moore, who's teachings I had (again providentially) just recently started listening to thanks to Monergism and some of his MP3 sermons listed there (the first message that I heard from Dr. Moore was a fascinating message on the life of T. T. Eaton. I enjoy opportunities to learn more about church history, so the Eaton message was a fascinating one.)

My wife and I took Friday as a date night, and after dinner we attended the first part of the Adopted for Life seminar. Meeting at Trinity Lutheran church on Spring-Cypress, the event was well-attended, largely with folks from Grace Family Baptist but also with a number of visitors (as an aside, Trinity Lutheran has a gorgeous, massive sanctuary with a beautiful pipe organ in the upper loft portion of the church. I'm sure that the worship music must sound fantastic - plus I was impressed to see ESV Bibles supplied in the pews. If only I didn't have problems with the Lutheran views of absolution and consubstantiation it would be worth visiting sometime... :)

Anyhow, notes about the conference: as we arrived, I had the chance to meet Dr. Moore at the door, and I told them that it was great to meet him and that I had enjoyed a number of his messages via Monergism's site. He was a very cordial individual, and his teaching throughout the duration of the weekend was immensely beneficial.

The first two sessions opened with an introduction by Voddie Baucham, followed by hymns, then Dr. Moore spoke two sessions (two more sessions followed on Saturday.)

The first Friday session addressed adoption as gospel and mission, with the second section covering adoption as spiritual warfare. In the first message, Dr. Moore presented the large picture of adoption as something God has put into the world as a depiction of the gospel. Specific to scripture he cited Romans 8 and Paul speaking of the "brotherhood" of the church in Rome of Jews and Gentiles together, and how monumental this was. In the church today, the term "brother" is frequently overused and simplified, but at the time of Paul, writing this about jews and gentiles together was a huge thing, comparing them as being part of the same family. Back then, "gentile" was a much more shocking thing to be, along the lines of individuals like Goliath and Jezebels. But here was the message of adoption into the church, beyond DNA, bloodlines, and genetics - now all part of the same family.

I find it noteworthy how through these lectures Dr. Moore challenged many views that I myself have always just been en grained to think, or taken for granted, such as notions of "I'd like to adopt someday, but first I'd like to have children of my own" - views like that (I'm sure I've thought this myself at some point) betray a false view and definition of a "normal" life, as if for those who cannot have their own biological children, that God is "cheating them out of something." But the fact of the matter is, this type of thinking stems from a darwinistic understanding of protecting your genetic material, and does not reflect a true brotherhood of the spirit, but rather just of the flesh.

Dr. Moore then went on to talk about individuals like Abraham who, even though he's the father of the nation of Israel, was in fact grafted in from the land of Ur, adopted by God. Abraham didn't possess a natural born right to be the father of many nations, but it was purely by the grace of God adopting him into this role.

There were more notes, but this is the majority of what I took. The emphasis of the seminar was adoption and foster care, and Dr. Moore's message was very inspiring. I've researched into adoption, both the steps required and the financial aspects, and its something we haven't eliminated as a possibility. At this point, its about getting our financial situation in order first (plus, with a very young one in the house who keeps us awake at night, it might be nice to let a little time pass for her to grow a little more first.) But it believe that caring for the orphans is Biblically a responsibility and an obligation that I think is important for believers to all give consideration to.

That's about the summary of notes. It was great to actually meet Dr. Moore and hear him speak, and I'd love to catch the opportunity to hear him again sometime.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Voddie Baucham sermons on Monergism

Voddie Baucham is a remarkable teacher and I've been greatly blessed to learn from him both directly here in Houston and also from his MP3 teaching online. His teaching is spot on and very relevant to the world today.

Here's a link to a number of his messages online.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Luke 15:11-32

Some notes on the parable of the prodigal son, or "sons", as Tim Keller referred to this passage in some of his messages. Most of these are notes taken some some of his Redeemer sermons (many of which are free from here.)

In Luke 15 Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son, but the story is actually built around two sons. The younger one wants to leave and requests an early inheritance, basically the same as wishing his father dead. the analogy being built here is of one being ungrateful to God's goodness.

The younger son leaves, spends all of the money, and ends up feeding pigs, and even envying their food (and eating with pigs would have been highly taboo and shocking to the Jewish audiences.) Realizing his fallen state, the younger son decides to go home and, as he's returning he prepares what he will say in terms of an apology. Yet on the way home the father rushes to him, interrupting the son's apology message (here speaking about the fact that there is no stipulation on his return.

The younger son is welcomed back, but the story doesn't end here. The older brother refuses to celebrate with the father and younger son. Again here is an example of a son shaming his father, by refusing to be part of the banquet. The father appeals to the older son to come in, and the curious thing about the parable is that we don't know what happens. Does the older brother come in? We never find out, as the parable ends, a new chapter begins and Jesus starts telling a different parable.

One message about the younger son is that it can speak to the mentality of those who merely stay at church until they get what they want, and then they leave. This parable isn't just about "bad" people out there, but can speak to virtually anyone in the church who sees it with a mentality of "what will I get out of this?"

The older brother speaks of legalism and being faithful to the law, yet at the same time being lost by blind, rigid obedience to works-based righteousness. In this story, both brothers were lost and, at the close of the story, we only know that one of the brothers was saved.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Contending for Christ: The Love and Loyalty of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Phil Johnson has some very insightful and moving messages about the life of Charles Spurgeon. As far as church history goes, these lectures are fascinating and offer an excellent overview of Spurgeons life. There are six MP3's available here which are definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Got Questions?

When I've got theology questions about the Bible, I'll usually run them past my Dad, or the pastor, etc, but every now and then I'll pass an obscure question to, where in a day or two I'll get an informative reply via email. I've been impressed by the depth of some of the responses that I've received.

Also, simply googling for answers to theology questions is just a little too hit-or-miss for me. In my own experience, sometimes this works, and sometimes it just shoots you off into strange and unhelpful directions. Navigating all of the information on the web to me is akin to drowning.

Anyhow, if you have some Bible questions you'd like answered, GotQuestions? worth checking out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Perspectives on Family Ministry"

I just finished "Perspectives on Family Ministry" by Paul Renfro, Brandon Shields and Jay Strother (foreword by Randy Stinson) and thought that this was a fascinating overview of various family ministry models in the church today. I posted a review here on Amazon, but I'm posting it here as well. It's a good book.


Having just finished reading this book, I was satisfied to find that all three writers in the discussion, Paul Renfro, Brandon Shields and Jay Strother, all presented fair and comprehensive arguments for differing models of what family ministry should be. Yet at the same time, I felt that so much more could have been said and discussed about the issue. There's still plenty of good discussions, responses, and rebuttals, though, to make this a fascinating read.

I thought that Paul Renfro opened up with an excellent presentation and defense of the Family-Integrated model, and indeed there is much good that can be said of this structure of worship. Yet at the same time, as the counter-discussions dig into this model (namely Brandon Shield's counter) the arguments strike that this model doesn't address the community at large, or fractured families. There might be something to this, in the fact that there can be a niche quality some family-integrated churches. Don't get me wrong: as someone personally with a large family, it can be wonderful to be a part of a congregation that is largely family focused and oriented. But at the same time, in this day and culture of fragmented families, the counter-arguments seem to challenge if the family-integrated model does the most to reach those alienated demographics (such as fractured families, singles, etc).

Brandon Shields presents the Family-Based Ministry model, one seemingly more culturally emersed (and at the same time, criticized by some for being too much of the culture.) I did find it commendable that Shield's took time to dig in with a critical view of some of the earlier research as to why children are leaving the church (p. 104) and also, in light of things such as the regulative principle, how Scripture does present non-traditional methods of ministry (p.116). Absent from this model, though, as Renfro points out, is mention of father leadership and the importance thereof - a strong feature of the family integrated model.

Jay Strother followed with a convincing overview of the family-equipping ministry model, which in a nutshell is built around restructuring church roles to work more with parents. One thing noteworthy about Strother's section (as well as with the other writers) was the inclusion of practical examples of the particular ministry model in practice. I think this helped a lot, as sometimes the writers try to describe each individual system, but often what is the most helpful is reading about a realistic example described.

Ultimately the take-away for me was that there are pros and cons to each model of family ministry. I thing that each writer presented a fair case for the different models, as well as a decent challenge to the other viewpoints. While the models of family worship did all have notable differences, it was equally noteworthy to read about the similarities as well (particularly family-based and family-equipping.) The discussions and responses were all cordial and focused on being informative discussions moreso than heavily confrontational, which was greatly appreciated.

One of the things missing, though, that I would have liked to see Paul Renfro take on a little more deeply, was the FIC focus on large families (e.g. families with more than a two kids), and the need to change the child perception paradigm to reflect Biblical principles of children as blessing, instead of the church just mirroring culture's viewpoint that children are a hindrance to material pleasure. To me, large families seem to go hand in hand with the family integrated model, and I would have at least liked to see this addressed (if for no other reason than to verify this conception) and to see how the other models (family-based and family-equipping) approach this view as well. If anything, this seemed to be a sorely missing topic and would have added a richer dimension to the text for me. Renfro would likely have trumped the other two models on this topic, and I can't help but think that addressing the topic of large families, as a key component to the family-integrated model, would have been a fascinating aspect of the debate.

Now slightly off the beaten track, but still noteworthy: what does the cover image of a subway track have to do with this topic? I'm thinking instead that maybe the book should have featured the image of a Sunday School classroom, or a group of school kids, or even a church congregation. So where does the subway come in? Family-based churches that meet on trains? :)

Also, what good does the Latin footnote on pg. 21 do to those who can't read Latin? It looks classy, sure, but means nothing to the monolingual reader.