Tuesday, March 27, 2007

User Friendly Tax & Finance Info

Check out this blog on Tax and Financial Information. It is a work in progress so add to you feeds and be on the lookout for new information.

User Friendly Tax & Finance Blog

Friday, January 12, 2007

Book Blog

Anyone interested in buying books please check my new book blog located at Integrity Book Buys.
In addition, you can also visit our Amazon book store here.

Also, my blog has moved, for the time being, to sosipater.wordpress.com

Thanks!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

New Cyber Crib

Friends, Romans, Countrymen,

This is probably premature as I am still tweaking, but my blog will be/has moved to a new home on the internet. Blogger has been good to me, and who knows? Maybe one day I will be back, but for the time being I'm going to hang my hat over at Wordpress.

My blogs new site is:

www.sosipater.wordpress.com
Come on over!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blogger Trades Paper Clip for a House

Say what you want about Kyle MacDonald, but he is an enterprising guy.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Going Out

Friends,

I have been remiss to ask you to pray for a couple of friends of mine who are on short term mission trips. One has been there a couple of weeks, another left yesterday. They are Robb and Colleen. Please visit their blogs and join us in prayer for their trips.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Russ

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Value of Life

The June 28th commentary by Dr. Mohler discusses a chilling article by Anne Lamott. You can read it here. I don't know if you could find a more striking example of the antithesis between a Christian worldview and a non-Christian worldview. This seems to be the cultural issue of our age: human value/dignity and the right of our creator to give and take life by His providential plan. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that Ann Lamott considers herself a Christian. Who's fault is that? I would suggest it is the Church's fault.

After reading this article how would you tackle this issue? Do you want to wage war against cultural elites like Ms. Lamott, or would you like to explain to her why she is not thinking as a Christian, since that is her self description of herself? Can we do both simultaneously?

Lets get introspective. If we confess to believe that all humans are made in the image of God, are we living our lives and treating every single other person we meet with that understanding? Should we be?

Monday, June 26, 2006

QOD

The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"This gave me occasion to observe, that when Men are employ'd
they are best contented. For on the Days they work'd they were
good-natur'd and chearful; and with the consciousness of having
done a good Days work they spent the Evenings jollily; but on the
idle Days they were mutinous and quarrelsome, finding fault with
their Pork, the Bread, and in continual ill-humour."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Autobiography, 1771)

Reference: Franklin: Writings, Lemay, ed., Library of America
(1447)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Toward a Biblical/Kingdom Focused Worldview

I have not blogged in over a week. Couple of reasons for that. Been very busy, and haven't found anything really interesting to blog about. Well, both changed a little today, so here's what I have to offer.

If you are interested in developing a Biblical Worldview, which involves so much more than just having your doctrine right (you need to have it right, there is just more to it than that), then you need to check out these two articles by Anthony Bradley. Here they are, with intro paragraphs to wet your appetite.



Toward A Missional Worldview: Remembering the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God is a central theme in the preaching of Jesus and, by extension, the preaching and teaching of the apostles. Theological liberalism has emphasized the kingdom while leaving behind Jesus' mission and call to obedience and discipleship. Many evangelicals while having great passion for the church and mission often forsake the forest for the trees and loose full implications of the gospel into their local culture. A missional worldview orients all of one's life toward the kingdom (Matt 6:33) and ignites Jesus followers into radical living here and now.




Toward A Missional Worldview: Creation, the Imago Dei, and BMWs

Nature is good. Being human is good. Work is good. Rest is good. Culture is good. Sexuality, making babies, and having a family is really good. In fact, everything that God created is very, very good (1 Tim 4:4-5). A missional worldview implores Jesus followers to engage all of life reflecting what God intends for his world (Col 3:23) and to invite others to do the same (Acts 17, Psalm 34:1-8). Every Jesus follower is to show the world what being united with Jesus looks like. Since all of life is spiritual, a missional Church calls all people to live all of life as they ought.


Let us do both. Let us tell and show the world what it is to be a Christian.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Patterson & Mohler De-scussion over Election


Patterson, Mohler: Calvinism shouldn’t divide SBC

I found the last two paragraphs by Dr. Patterson interesting.



Patterson urged Southern Baptists not to follow the example of the English Baptists who divided over the issue. After the split, those who held to limited atonement (the particular Baptists) became "anti-missionary and anti-evangelistic," while those who held to general atonement (the General Baptists) emphasized doctrine so little that they "became universalists," Patterson said.

“The splitting of the two did them no favors and pushed them in opposite directions that were very unfortunate,” he said. "… If we allow Satan to have his way, we'll divide up over it, as we certainly should not," Patterson said.


What sayeth ye?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Distressing thoughts for a new Dad of a Daughter

Even though my daughter is not even 4 months old yet, my wife and I have already had a conversation about our daughter's college education, if she chooses to go that route. My initial reaction to that thought process is...I have been to college, know what the college culture is like, and don't want my daughter anywhere near a brazenly secular post-secondary instituion.

After reading Hookup Culture, Biblical Patriarchy, and Campus Ministry by Russell Moore, my initial response seemed to be a good one. Rest assured, while I am no fan of anything Duke related, the environment and attitudes of the students there are not drastically different from college students all over this country, at least that is my conclusion. While reading this article my heart sank as I processed the thought that every woman at every college is some daddy's little girl. As Dr. Moore stated, the clarion call here as a Christian man is to be a Christian father and husband, to raise my daughter as a Christian woman, and to promote this attitude and dedication to family calling as of the utmost import to our current generation of moms and dads, for our next generation of Christian men and women.

Friday, June 02, 2006

SBC Politics

Calvinist pastor, Georgia evangelist likely to square off as 1st VP nomination
By Robert Marus

QOD

The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"There are certain social principles in human nature, from
which we may draw the most solid conclusions with respect to the
conduct of individuals and of communities. We love our families
more than our neighbors; we love our neighbors more than our
countrymen in general. The human affections, like solar heat,
lose their intensity as they depart from the centre... On these
principles, the attachment of the individual will be first and
for ever secured by the State governments. They will be a mutual
protection and support."

-- Alexander Hamilton (speech at the New York Ratifying Convention,
June 1788)

Reference: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Cabot Lodge,
ed., II, 70.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Colorado "Christian" Rockies?

Ya'll have really got to check out this article in USA Today. The title is "Team's rebuilding effort focuses on Christianity, character", By Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY.

I'll have to admit, I have not kept up with professional baseball too much in the last few years, but I have never heard this before about the Rockies organization. Sounds like I am not the only one. Here is a teaser from the article.

Music filled with obscenities, wildly popular with youth today and in many other clubhouses, is not played. A player will curse occasionally but usually in hushed tones. Quotes from Scripture are posted in the weight room. Chapel service is packed on Sundays. Prayer and fellowship groups each Tuesday are well-attended. It's not unusual for the front office executives to pray together.


Is this it. Are the postmillenials right and the golden age has started, at Coor's Field? I guess crazier, much crazier, things could happen. Is this a good thing? Bad thing? Little of both? What do you think???

Justin Martyr and How Early Christians Worshipped

Here is a very interesting short article with and exerpt from the Early Church Father (ECF) Justin Martyr's book "First Apology" (155 A.D.). The article is titled "How the Early Christians Worshipped."


You can click here for a brief bio on Justin Martyr.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Govenor Roy Moore???

Here is a link to a very interesting article on former Alabama State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. Here are some snippets I thought were interesting.

"When they don't understand that it wasn't about a monument, or the Ten Commandments, or disobedience of a federal court order, but about obedience to the U.S. Constitution and the acknowledgment of God which cannot be prohibited by any authority, then when you get that message out, you can go to the platform, [and] they start to see that."


"Every function of government is related" to the acknowledgment of God, he says. "For example, an understanding of God leads to an understanding of the fallen nature of man, which leads to the separation of powers, checks and balances. . . . Then you understand why judges can't make law, and legislators can't enforce law, and the executives can't put themselves above the law."


His arguments for limited government portray this political philosophy as the only one for those who believe in God. He quotes Jefferson: " 'Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.' Now that had a meaning back in 1700 which is true today. Tyrants are those who put [themselves] above the law of God and become all-powerful. They control everything--your life, your liberty, your pursuit of happiness. In this country, those things are given by God and government is there to secure them."


Can more than one deity, I ask, be held in official esteem in America? Not if religious tolerance is to be maintained, Mr. Moore argues: "The Judeo-Christian God is the one that gives religious liberty. The Muslim God, Allah, does not give religious liberty. If you want to prove that, go to Saudi Arabia and lift up your Bible on a street corner, and you'll find out what the Muslim God--they say--dictates.
"They dictate a form of worship through the government, and that's what their God mandates--they say. Our God does not mandate that at all. . . . Our God says that that freedom is between you and me, not you and government. That's the big difference. . . . And that's exactly why Muslims and Buddhists and others are free to worship [here] the way they want, not dictated by government."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Memorial Day this Monday

This is a good article about how to instill a sense of awareness in our children of what Memorial Day is all about. Interesting fact from the article is that the tradition of Memorial Day started as a way to remember those who fought, from both sides, in the so called "Civil War".

Not Just a Day Off: Remembering Our Fallen on Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pat Robertson Leg Presses 2000 lbs ???

You are not going to believe this.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Da Vinci Response Part 2

A Christian Response to "The Da Vinci Code": What's the Attraction? (Part 2) by Dr. Albert Mohler

QOD

The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this
ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to
the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the
boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress,
is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer
susceptible of any definition."

-- Thomas Jefferson (Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National
Bank, 15 February 1791)

Reference: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Boyd, ed., vol. 19 (276)

Friday, May 19, 2006

More Code Breakers

With all the hubbub of the Davinci Code film releasing today I thought these two articles by Dr. Mohler would help some of us be able to discuss the issues confidently with those we come into contact with. I would be interested in any thoughts of how you think Christians should respond to movies such as this and the issues that are raised.

About the book:
Deciphering 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dr. Albert Mohler.

About the movie:
A Christian Response to "The DaVinci Code": What’s the Problem? By Dr. Albert Mohler

Da Vinci via The Journal

I would like to point out a couple of articles on the Da Vinci Code over at OpinionJournal, the online editorial arm of The Wall Street Journal. I think these articles show it really doesn't take much to disarm the "facts" behind this fictional work.

Holy Sepulcre! "The Da Vinci Code" shows that conspiracy theories have no limits. BY DANIEL HENNINGER

Debunking the Debunkers. C.S. Lewis's message to "Da Vinci Code" fans. BY JOSEPH LOCONTE

Friday, May 12, 2006

QOD

The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"The foundation of national morality must be laid in private
families. . . . How is it possible that Children can have any
just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if,
from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in
habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as
constant Infidelity to their Mothers?"

-- John Adams (Diary, 2 June 1778)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, C.F. Adams, ed., vol. 3 (171)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

143rd Anniversary of the death of Stonewall Jackson


Click here for a short blog on this anniversary.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Man in Black

My wife and I recently watched "Walk the Line", the film version of the Life, part of the life at least, of the late singer/songwriter and black wearing Johnny Cash. I remember growing up listening to country music from my parents radios, and vaguely recall the voice of Johnny Cash coming in over the speakers. I have always liked his music, but after seeing this movie and reading a bit more about "the man in black", I have developed quite an affinity for his music, and for the man. To me, it is just real. Cash, and his wife June Carter, lived lives of searching. There seemed to be something always in the way of happiness. Was was that something? Here is a commentary from Russell Moore after he saw the movie.

Walking the Line by Russell Moore

Walking the Line
Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I participated last night in a pre-release screening of Walk the Line, the film based on the autobiographies of singer/songwriter Johnny Cash. I anticipated hating the film, but found myself sitting through the credits with a silent "Amen," not only because the movie was so true to the Cash story, but because it was so true to the parable of the Prodigal Son and the Book of Proverbs.

My prejudice was based partly on my love for Cash and his music, so certain I was that the film would get it wrong. Joaquin Phoenix singing "Cry, Cry, Cry" in his own voice? Legally Blonde's Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash? I also though understood from other reviewers the film was yet another offering of the arc of humble beginnings, rise to fame, fall to the perils of fame, and renewal that we have seen in Ray and other films. At the same time, many Christian reviewers have noted that the faith aspect of Cash's life is muted, if not obliterated, in the film.

I was wrong.

First of all, Reese Witherspoon was completely convincing as June Carter. My dread of seeing June as a mall girl with a fake southern accent proved to be unfounded. Witherspoon portrayed June with a mystique and transparency that should earn her an Academy Award. Phoenix meanwhile seemed to start off the movie with an almost parodic rendering of Cash (think of all the bad Elvis Presley life story movies we've seen), but, as the film went on, seemed to morph into Cash.

Yes, the film is similar to Ray, complete with a loving mother and a dead brother, whose blood-guilt lay on the protagonist for the rest of his life. Yes, like Ray Charles and countless others, Cash falls to the allure of sex and addiction as his celebrity grows. And yet, this is precisely because Cash and Charles and other artists actually did live this kind of life. What makes Cash's story unique is the way his art was fired, not just by a sense of sadness, but by conviction of sin.

It is true that the film does not feature Cash's conversion to Christ. But it does feature Johnny and June walking into the First Baptist Church, a hint of something very biblical that evangelical conversion stories often miss: the prodigal doesn't just come to his senses and leave the pigpen; he returns to his family. It also demonstrates the allure and devastation of sin.

The Carter/Cash interaction is not a gushingly romantic love story. Their adulterous passion is portrayed as having devastating consequences of two families, and on their own souls. So often in our churches we pretend as though the temptation to adultery is found in the wiles of an evil, cunning harlot. And yet, Scripture tells us that the path to infidelity is much more deceptive than that (Prov 7). In the Carter/Cash love story we see less the rapacious womanizing of Ray Charles than we see the tortured affair of David and Bathsheba, an affair that ends in marriage. Like David, the singers are led to sing of the pain and guilt of the "Ring of Fire" (Psalm 51).

The film does not feature explicitly Cash's conversion, and that's a shame. One cannot understand the love into old age of Cash and Carter without understanding how they were able to transcend the "burning flame" of illicit guilt. And yet, the film does show something of redemption and mission. When Cash dons black and begins playing concerts for prisoners, he is told that his constituency on Christians and they don't want him playing music for murderers and rapists. "Then they're not Christians," the Cash character responds. The theater audience around me erupted into applause.

My sons know Johnny Cash quite well because they hear his music around them all the time. My infant son's lullaby each night is a Carter Family song. When they are older, we'll watch Walk the Line. But we'll follow it up with a reminder from Scripture that sums up Johnny and June more than celebrity can ever explain: They loved much for they were forgiven much. There was a Man in Black, not because of a marketing gimmick, but because he understood with lifelong pain what it means to descend into a "Ring of Fire" and to find a Deliverer on the other side.


I wish the movie would have delved deeper into the spiritual conversion that Johnny underwent. I wish it would have been more clear that the affects of adultery and addiction are lost lives and shattered dreams. But it did show that God's grace is always around the bend. That lives can be restored. And only God can rescue selfish sinners from the flames of fire.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Riddleblog

I have added a new blog to my bloglist on the right. Tis The Riddleblog: Devoted to Reformed Theology and Eschatology.

Lots of cool stuff, mostly from an Ammillenial position, which is of course, the Reformed Eschatological position. :)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chrisitianity & Culture

Over at Reformed Baptist Thinker, aka John Devito, he has information on a 2 part lecture given by Gene Edward Veith on Christianity and Culture. This is a topic I am interested in and this lecture series looks pretty good. I look forward to listening to them in the near future.

Friday, April 14, 2006

John Adams: A Life

I just finished reading a great book and wanted to pass along some very brief thoughts on it. The book is John Adams: A Life by John Ferling. I was turned on to John Ferling after listening to another of his books on tape, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800. As a newly admitted history buff, especially 17th-19th century America, I am trying to read a biography of each of the founding fathers. John Adams: A Life is a very detailed look (454 pages) at the entire life of the United States first Vice President (1792-1800) and our second President (1800-1804). This book delves into Adam's early life, his incredible drive to become a man of importance, his family life, especially his relationship with his wife Abigail, his rise to political prominence from a cautious advocate of independence from Great Britain to possibly the most outspoken advocate of independence when the fledgling movement needed leadership the most, especially among the New England States.

The book goes into much detail also on the attitudes of the citizens during the revolutionary era, and does a good job of over viewing the differences between the two main political parties which arose during the revolutionary war and after, namely, the Federalists and the Republicans. Adams was a federalist, though not a high federalist and Jefferson a republican, though Adams became more of a republican near the end of his lifetime. Between this book and Adams vs. Jefferson, you can get a pretty good picture of this man, and also of Jefferson.

There are so many quotes from the book that would be interesting, but for lack of time I am going to focus on one quote. I was interested in John Adam's religious views, as I am all the founding fathers. This topic was broached on a very surface level throughout most of the book, noting Adams would occasionlly discuss theological subjects and owned theological books in his large library. It also mentions him as a dedicated attender of the Congregational Church. Adam's led a long life and near the end many of his friends and family have died. This, naturally, has Adams contemplating death more often. Near the end of the book Ferling offers this analysis of Adam's religious beliefs:

"From this point on, Adams dwelt more than ever on the mysteries of life and death. During his early adult years, Adams had turned away from the strict Calvinism of his youth. He thereafter referred to himself as a "church-going animal" and as "a fellow disciple" to all Christians. In his final years, however, he moved toward a Unitarian position. He continued to believe in the existence of a Supreme Creator and in an afterlife, but he rejected the notion of Jesus' divinity and denounced institutional Christianity as a purveyor of fraud and superstition. The Christian church, he declared, was the cause of much pain and suffering on earth. Nevertheless, he continued to believe that Christ's teachings and his "universal Toleration" offered the best guide to human conduct. "My religion", he remarked in 1815, "is found on the love of God and my neighbor; on the hope of pardon for my offenses...I believe, too, in a future state of rewards and punishments, but not eternal." The one notion to which Adams remained committed was his belief that religion was necessary for the general populace; without some such belief system to constrain the masses, he said, "their World would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell." P. 433-435, John Adams: A Life by John Ferling.


Very interesting quote, and Adam's beliefs here seem to be more Jeffersonian than Christian. Although, I look forward to seeing if further reading on these men confirm or confuse the sentiments expressed here. Adams never lost his belief that mankind was not inherently good, but suffered a base nature, of which government must be contoured and shaped around. According to this book, this is the view that formed Adam's thoughts on government.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy history. It is long, but when I was done I felt I had accomplished a great deal! It was well worth it and I look forward to continuing to delve into the hearts and minds of the men who founded our country.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Interview with John Piper

There is a pretty good article over at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association web site which is an interview with John Piper. Here are a couple of quotes.

A: The fight to delight in God is a fight to see God in and through the Word, by the Spirit. Since revealing is a spiritual thing, and because the Lord is not visible, He reveals Himself to the eyes of our heart by the Word of God. This is the beauty of the Word, combined with the Spirit, so that when we read the Word a seeing happens. I'm not thinking of imagining pictures in the brain, I'm thinking of glory in and through the work of God depicted in the Bible. The glory streams forth out of God's character into our heart and we perceive it, we taste it spiritually; we apprehend it with the eyes of our heart. That's the way we fight for joy. In my own fight, I use the acronym IOUS, and I plead with the Lord:

Incline my heart to Your testimonies (Psalm 119:36), because there are days when I don't even want to pick up the Bible. If that feeling survives, I'm dead. So I plead, "Lord, don't let me not want to pick up the Bible. Incline my heart to Your Word."

Open the eyes of my heart to see wondrous things in the Word (Psalm 119:18), not just black marks on a page. Make Your truth glorious and beautiful and attractive and satisfying and delighting.

Unite my heart to fear Your Name (Psalm 86:11). My heart is fragmented and going every which way—I'm worried about the kids, I'm worried about the church, I'm worried about the car I need to fix. So I ask God to get my heart together to have a reverential demeanor toward Him.

Satisfy me with Your lovingkindness (Psalm 90:14). Make my heart so content in You that pornography is not attractive, money is not attractive, fame is not attractive. I want an attraction to You to dominate my life.

I've actually added one more "S" and that's Spread. Evangelism. The mission statement of our church is, "We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ."


Does anyone else connect with that? I do. Also this.

God is angry at sinners. It's not wrong to talk about sinners in the hands of an angry God. We just need to complete the picture by adding that He wants to get us out of His anger into His mercy. He couldn't do that as a just and Holy God by sweeping sins under the rug. They had to be carried by a substitute, and only the Son of God could bear them. So He sends Christ His Son to live a perfect life. His death is the consummation of two things. It's the consummation of His righteousness, so that I could have a righteousness imputed to me that's not my own. And it's the consummation of the sufferings that I should have borne because of my sin. I should have suffered in hell, but He suffered on the cross for me because He was the divine Son of God who came and took all my suffering. He provided all my righteousness so that Paul can say, "[God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).


That, I believe, is the gospel ladies and gentlemen. As Justin Taylor said, the whole article is a good summary of John Piper's theology. Check it out.

(THFP: Justin Taylor)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reporting on ARBCA

Two of my pastors are at the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America general assembly meeting this week at Heritage Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA. For the schedule click here.

I am delighted that they have been able to attend this conference, and excited about the fact that Pastor Robert will be blogging from the conference. You can go ahead and click on it now and read about the first session. Keep checking in for further updates!

Russ

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ascol/White Vs. Caner/Caner

Ok, here is what you all have been waiting for.



Baptists and Calvinism: A Debate at the New Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia
Monday, October 16th, 2006, 7pm, at the New Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. A debate on Calvinism, featuring:
Speaking against "Calvinism" will be the Dean of Liberty Theological Seminary, Dr. Ergun Ehmet Caner. Dr. Caner has been a vocal critic of Reformed theology in Baptist life. He is the author of numerous books and a professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg.
Joining him will be his brother, Dr. Emir Caner of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Dallas. Dr. Caner is likewise an author, and both Caners are converts from Islam. You can visit Dr. Ergun Caner's website here, and Dr. Emir Caner's website here.
Speaking in defense of "Calvinism" will be the President of the Founder's Ministries, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, author and lecturer, Dr. Tom Ascol. In his role with the Founder's movement Dr. Ascol has often addressed the issue of the role of Reformed theology in historic Baptist life. Dr. Ascol has likewise spoken for us in our conferences, and will be part of our conference in November in Orlando as well.
And I have the great privilege of joining Dr. Ascol in defense of "Calvinism." This will be my fifth opportunity in sixty formal debates to specifically address the doctrines of grace and give a biblical defense of my faith.
There will be no cost for admission. The debate will be audio and video recorded and will be made available through the ministries of those involved.


Will you join me in praying for:

1. God's Word to be proclaimed and explained truthfully.
2. Open minds & hearts to be had by all in attendance.
3. A humble spirit to be exhibited by all involved.
4. For God's glory to be the ultimate aim of the evening.

It is doubtful I can make this trip, so I will be anxiously awaiting the recordings of this debate.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Without Excuse

Let me go ahead and set this article up exactly like Justin Taylor did.

You finally have that opportunity to explain the gospel to that co-worker who has been asking a few questions of late. She tells you that one of the things that keeps her from taking religion seriously is that each one claims absolute, final truth. Obviously, they can't all be right, since they contradict each other at key points. Can a Japanese Buddhist really be held accountable for accepting Christianity if Buddhism has been his only frame of reference? How then can we continue to say that Jesus is the only way? How can we say that God cannot be truly known, at least in a saving way, unless one has been exposed to the Christian Scriptures somehow? Religion all seems hopelessly naive and impossible. More than that, it seems to fuel the religious strife that drives intolerance around the world. As a result, your co-worker has simply adopted the cultural dogma of tolerance that assumes a pragmatic view of religion. Buddhism "works" for one person, Islam for another, and Christianity for still others. The belief that religion is therapy more than truth seems pervasive, in evangelicalism as everywhere else.



You'll have to read the article from Modern Reformation Magazine to see how Michael Horton answers these questions.

(Tar Heel Finger Point (hereafter THFP): Justin Taylor)

Final 4 Predicts

Keeping with the basketball theme.

As others have said, I am not a prophet or a son of a prophet, but here are my final 4 pics which I picked before the tournament began...I promise.

Atlanta Region: LSU (Still alive)
Oakland Region: UCLA (Still alive)
Washington D.C. Region: UCONN (Still alive)
Minneapolis Region: BC (Still alive)

Championship game: UCLA vs. UCONN
National Champ: UCONN

Its wait and see time!

Anyone else want to share their picks?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

T4TG Blog

Those of you who have not been keeping up with the Together for The Gospel blog are missing out, especially you basketball fans. What I particulary am enjoying is CJ Mahaney's strong distaste for a particular basketball team located in Durham, NC. I share Pastor Mahaney's strong dislike for this team and also refuse to even type the name. What a wise man he is. Anyway, this combined with the pastoral encouragements, which all of us Christians can use whether we are pastors or not, is making this blog a great read.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

USA Today Article on Franklin Graham

There is an interesting article on Franklin Graham over at USA Today. You can read it here.

Overall it seems good that Franklin stands firm for the Gospel, and my personal experience hearing him on the radio would back that up. I just hope his organization's Gospel presentations are the true Gospel and not the watered down imposter that is so rampant today. For more on that check out the Way of the Master link over on my list of sites.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Vocational Calling

On a discussion board I lurk at, one of the posters there brought to my attention an excellent article from the Westminister Theological Seminary Bulletin. I think it is dead on in how the American Church today divides vocational calling. I know I agree with the article and still have to fight my own tendancy to elevate "full-time Christian ministry" as the peak of Christian piety, maturity, and service before God. Here is the article. It is well worth the short read. I have put in bold the central paragraph. Comments are vociferously welcome.

Calling in Every Area of Life by William Edgar

Calling in Every Area of Life
by William Edgar
Professor of Apologetics, Moderator of the Faculty

Arguably the most significant book for late Medieval piety is Thomas à Kempis’ De Imitatione Christi. Still popular today, it contains many valuable teachings about sanctification. But it has a fundamental flaw. One can sense the problem by looking at the full title: On the Imitation of Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth. An even more brutal translation says: and Contempt for the World. According to this kind of piety, the world is altogether a distraction from our proper calling, which is to draw close to Christ.

At first, monasteries were crucial parts of the preserving and nurturing of civilization. But gradually monks and nuns became isolated from the world, unable to relate to the religious aspirations of the laity, nor to some of the innovations of the day, such as the printing press and nascent science. Calling, or vocation, was defined as “devotion,” meaning a narrow and intense dedication to the sacred.

The Protestant Reformation blasted through this split universe. Because of their robust understanding of creation and of the so-called cultural mandate (Genesis 1:24-31; Psalm 8:5-9), Luther, Calvin, then the Puritans, and other post-Reformation orthodox, proclaimed the vocation of every Christian. The idea of the priesthood of all believers issues in the conviction that we are all called to work in the everyday world. Thus, farming, artistry, parenting, citizenship—all are a part of our vocation before the Lord. Luther, who was given to extravagant statements, once declared that the work of the least householder was worth more than that of all the priests, monks, and nuns put together! He did not disparage the ordained ministry; quite the contrary. Yet he found much of the monastic life of no use in the Kingdom of God. He urged all clergy to marry and work with their hands.

This radical, biblical idea led to many results. When Calvin came to Geneva, some 400 people were in the employ of the church, yet the city was known for its corruption and degenerate life. After his arrival, church employees were reduced to a handful as other jobs were found for former clerics, and public morality improved. Work, according to Calvin, is not socially demeaning, but honorable, though toilsome. William Perkins wrote extensively on how to find one’s calling in life. He carefully compared the gifts of each person to the surrounding needs and opportunities. In countries where the Reformation took root, a higher standard of living could generally be found, since everyone was accountable to God for his or her livelihood.

Today we are in danger of returning to a Medieval model, not so much through the attraction of the monastic order, but in making evangelism or “soul-saving” such a priority that areas such as social justice, business, politics, science, or the arts, are neglected. Many evangelicals believe missions is the highest calling, followed by the pastorate, or other kinds of “full-time Christian service.”

To which we must say, No! Every kind of Christian service is full-time. The gospel applies to every sphere of life, as Abraham Kuyper would remind us. Of course, evangelism is important. But if we engage in it without at the same time recognizing the legitimacy of calling into every realm of life, we are becoming “so heavenly minded we are no earthly good.” Heaven, though, is the earth remade. The New Jerusalem comes down from heaven. But Jesus opens the door, now. Heaven is not a far away place, but the place where God reigns, and he reigns right here! The seventh angel of the Revelation blows the trumpet, and loud voices proclaim, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (11:15).

Sam Logan’s full time Christian service for over twenty years has been as dean of students, academic dean, and then president of Westminster. His calling today is to the chancellorship. In his administration we moved from being pre-technological to being “smart.” He inaugurated the Contemporary Issues Conferences, which exhibited the Kuyperian principle that says every sphere belongs to Christ. He stressed our impact around the world, not only by multiplying our campuses, but also by bringing world Christian leaders to them to be trained in the Reformed worldview and then return to strengthen the kingdom in their respective countries. In all of these areas, and many more, he refused the Medieval sacred-secular dichotomy, but instead led Westminster to equip leaders who could equip others in every walk of life. We wish Sam and Susan well in this new vocation. May they not only bring glory to God, but enjoy him thoroughly, and forever.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Shepherd's Conference

For those of us who could not attend the Shepherd's Conference out at John MacArthur's church, Grace Community, here is a link to Tim Challies' site where he is live blogging. Enjoy.

Russ

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Theological Diversity in the SBC (and everywhere)

Disclaimer: I am no longer a Southern Baptist, but grew up in that denomination and still follow its current condition with interest.

In Dr. Ascol's latest blog over at The Founders Blog he discusses what he sees as the different visions that are represented today in the Southern Baptist Convention. Among them he mentions the Theonomic and the Theonomic light visions. Aspects of these visions include ""taking back America for Christ"", "recovering our great Christian nation for Jesus", and getting "prayers back in our public schools and the Ten Commandments posted in our courtrooms and classrooms again." Finally about the latter vision he says, "By issuing boycotts and economic threats these folks believe that they are heavily involved in cultural engagement and combatting worldliness on major fronts. Neither Disney nor Hollywood should expect to be ignored if this vision carries the future in the SBC."

Now, let me say I highly respect Dr. Ascol and his views, and agree with him 99% of the time. But my comments will reveal, I believe, a disagreement over his implied disparagement of those who participate in the above activities. In the comments section of this blog post by Dr. Ascol, number 23 I believe, a commenter named "Rod" asks this: "What's wrong with a "theonomic" and a "Tom's View" blend? Can a serious Calvinist who cares about church reform, also care about America's reform?"

This is my question exactly. What is inherently wrong with fighting for the right for prayer in public schools or to display the 10 commandments in public venues around America? Now, if Dr. Ascol is speaking of Christians who ONLY boycott, and whose only Christian duty is to get the 10 commandments placed in public places, then I have to agree that these activities in and of themselves are not enough for the Christian. But I have to continually ask myself and others, why do we think people who do this do not also love the church and seek Biblical fidelity for the church? Why can't we fight for the right to have the 10 commandments displayed, and at the same time proclaim to the lost that they are under God's wrath because they continue to defy these 10 commandments? For some, this may be their only introduction to God's law. Why can't we be upset when corporations want to deny us the right the call Christmas Christmas, and at the same time explain to these same people that they are currently under the condemnation of the God they want to try and supress. What is inherently wrong with trying to work within our culture to make it a better place for all people, and at the same time being faithful to our churches and communities and living out our lives as servants of Christ? Isn't that what part of loving our neighbor is all about? Do we just share the gospel with our culture and if they reject it tell them fine, go ahead and continue killing your babies, that is of no eternal significance to me? I am continually amazed and the false dichotomy that is forced on this issue. Either you are a cultural warrior, or you are a cultural wimp.

Rather, lets let the gospel saturate our entire lives, from family decisions, to church decisions, to work decisions, to political decisions, to every decision we make. That is about $.03 worth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Emma Catherine

For anyone that did not know, my wife gave birth on Feb 15, 2006 @ 12:20 PM to a beautiful baby girl, Emma Catherine, weighing in at 7 lbs 5 oz and 19 inches long. And when I say beautiful, I mean beautiful. I think The Lord is revealing much to my wife and I about unconditional love. Stay tuned for possible further updates on the life of a new father.

12 May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
cut for the structure of a palace;
13 may our granaries be full,
providing all kinds of produce;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
and ten thousands in our fields;
14 may our cattle be heavy with young,
suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; [2]
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord! - David, King of Israel

Friday, February 10, 2006

Beth Moore discusses the 5 points?

Update/Disclaimer: My intent with this post is to discuss and gather opinions, not condemn, Beth Moore's teaching material and whether Ms. Moore's material are consistent with a reformed/conservative understanding of scripture. I do not deny at all that The Lord has used Ms. Moore's materials to bless many people, or that her heart is to sincerely serve the Lord. If you read this and have an opinion, please let me know. Thanks!



Ha...got ya didn't I. No, Ms. Moore is not discussing Calvinism, but instead in the latest edition of Modern Reformation Magazine, Susan Disston from the PCA reviews Moore's book Believing God and also her teaching system. About Moore's 5 points, Ms. Disston writes,
"Moore offers her readers the ticket to the Promised Land that will turn passive faith into “action verb” faith. It is five-point pledge of faith that is memorized and spoken out loud daily: God is who he says he is; God can do what he says he can do; I am who God says I am; I can do all things through Christ; God’s Word is alive and active in me. The pledge is designed to overcome doubts about God’s power and goodness, to bolster faith in miracles, to claim one’s adoption into God’s family through Christ, and to open the Christian to receiving personalized messages from God both through the Bible and through daily interventions."


Ms. Disston also makes these observations about Beth Moore's teaching characteristics,

"Moore is a pragmatist. When she reads the Bible she expects it to speak to her about her life in practical ways. She uses the people and stories in the Bible as allegories of the Christian life to explain how Christians can be defeated or victorious. Their destiny depends on how they respond to God. The equation is simple, according to Moore; the more faith they exercise, the better their reward in this life. Her books, Bible studies, videos, and speaking ministry follow a similar pattern of self-disclosure, plucky faith that is determined to overcome, and confirmation from the Bible that Christians can and do experience victory over sin, deliverance from bondage, and successful Christianity."


Is anyone else somewhat uneasy about this description. On first read it doesn't sound so bad, but then I became more uncomfortable with the phrase "the more faith they exercise".

More from the article,

Although she wants to be theological and Christ-centered, too much of Moore’s material is about her take on her experience with God. Her writing tends to be undisciplined and shallow. She is far too willing to gloss over uncomfortable theological implications in favor of feel-good stories and quick explanations. Knowing God comes through experience; most sin is the result of failing to believe and be delivered; repentance is rarely mentioned. Her bent toward mysticism permits her to circumvent traditional theological interpretations and indulge in explanations of her own design that are more reasonable and satisfying to her sensibilities... Basically she says, don’t let theology and doctrine confuse you when you can figure it out with God for yourself in a way that works for you. Unfortunately, people who use her materials can’t help but absorb some of that reasoning. Even more troubling is that they think they’re doing Bible study when they are really getting a heavy dose of mysticism, storytelling, psychology, and prosperity gospel. In the introduction to Believing God, Moore shows her true, but mistaken, agenda when she says, “I know I’m going to make it to heaven because I’ve trusted Christ as my Savior, but I want to make it to my Canaan on the way. I want to finish my race in the Promised Land, not in the wilderness. You too? Then we have to cash in our fear and complacency and spend all we have on the only ticket out: BELIEF.”


In conclusion Ms. Disston comes to the following opinion,

There are many worthy goals of Bible study, but securing heaven on earth is not one of them, at least for Reformed Christians. And the surest way to get off track is to add human effort to what God has already done in the cross of Christ, even when it’s called believing God or faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation. Everything else is of grace in the Christian experience, too, thanks be to God.


Well, I can unreservedly give that a hearty AMEN. My question is, what do you think of this review? Should Beth Moore be avoided by Reformed Christians, or can we pick and choose with a discerning eye from her studies? Enquiring minds want to know.

Russ

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

The God of "my" Understanding

I wanted to talk about last Tuesday's Larry King Live with Dr. Albert Mohler, Janet Parshal, Chad Allen, and Guy Padgett, but I just did not have the time. Thankfully, I just read Denny Burke's post and it is a great short summary. Check out his post and read the transcript.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

General Thomas Johnathan "Stonewall" Jackson


I would be most bereft of my duties as a grateful son of a Confederate Veteran and a son of the South if I did not at least mention that today is the birthday of General Thomas J. Jackson, forever remembered as Stonewall Jackson.

I have come to consider General Jackson as a personal hero, a man who exibited a most zealous Christian faith, who trusted completely the God who he knew governed all of existence, who loved his wife and family dearly, who modeled Christian piety and manhood, a man who loved to pray, and a man who took his duties seriously and left the consequences to God. This is the man for whom I celebrate this day, his birthday, and honor all that which he stood for.

Quotes from Gen Jackson


Once you get them running, you stay right on top of them, and that way a small force can defeat a large one every time... Only thus can a weaker country cope with a stronger; it must make up in activity what it lacks in strength.

Who could not conquer with such troops as these?

My troops may fail to take a position, but are never driven from one!

Stonewall Jackson as a Young Man (from VMI Military Institute)

Then, Sir, we will give them the bayonet! (Stonewall Jackson's reply to Colonel B.E. Bee when he reported that the enemy were beating them back. At the first battle of Bull Run, July 1861)

"Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me." He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: "That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave"

You may be whatever you resolve to be (From Jackson's Personal Journal)

In my tent last night, after a fatiguing day's service, I remembered that I failed to send a contribution for our colored Sunday school. Enclosed you will find a check for that object, which please acknowledge at your earliest convenience and oblige yours faithfully. (Lt. General Thomas Jackson, in a letter to his Pastor)

Our God was my shield. His protecting care is an additional cause for gratitude

I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go. (General Jackson on his Death Bed)

Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees . . .
(The General's Last Words)


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

New Website

I wanted to alert everyone to a new website that I am excited about. The new site is www.samwaldron.us. It looks like this site will be distilling the output of Pastor/Teacher/Author Sam Waldron. I have benefitted from Dr. Waldron's work and recommend highly The End Times Made Simple and A Modern Exposition of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

This site is brand new so keep checking back as new information will probably be added.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Who answers to whom?

I love this article. Profound. Short. To the point.

The faulty levee of human virtue vs. the high ground of Calvary | by John Piper

By the way, please pray for Dr. Piper as he has been diagnosed with cancer. Here is his letter about his cancer. You can read a good post by Dr. Mohler about what Dr. Piper himself has said about cancer and prayer here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What, in hell, has God done for you?

A belated Happy New Year for those of you keeping count of the days on the calendar. And for those who want to know, my Christmas and New Year was rich with fellowship, with both my family, and my Christological family, the church. Let me take this opportunity to again thank the elders of my church, Ephesus Baptist Church, for being Gospel focused and allowing our church family to worship Christ on the holiday that bears his name. What a joy it was!

This brings to mind some things I would like to do on this blog in the upcoming year. First of all, things will probably be quiet around here soon. I begin working my seasonal second job soon and my wife and I are expecting our first child next month. So through April things may be slow. Here are some things I am interested in talking about right now, but this may definitely change by April. My family geneology (I found out some cool facts over the holdiday, cool especially for you civil war buffs), the emergent church, worship, and cultural engagment, among others.

What has God done for you? Do you really know and comprehend the richness and depth of his love? Do you know those who are grieving or who have no hope. The recent tragedy in West Virginia provides a context for this question. Phillip Ryken recently blogged on this question briefly here. I think it is a good one for us to ponder.

Monday, December 26, 2005

QOD

The Federalist Patriot
Founders' Quote Daily

"[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general
government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore...never to see
all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn
from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought
and sold at market."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Judge William Johnson, 12 June 1823)

Reference: Original Intent, Barton (261); original Memoir,
Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas
Jefferson, Thomas Je

Monday, December 19, 2005

Colossians 2:8-9

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits [1] of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily


I have been wanting to point out these two blog posts, here and here, by Dr. White for several days now. Dr. White is urging his readers to commit scripture to memory, starting with the verses quoted above. But, not only is he encouraging memorization and meditation, but giving us some great exegesis so we can understand fully what exactly we are memorizing.

These two verses are great because they warn against being fooled and letting yourself be taken captive by philosophy and deceitful ideas that are contrary to Christ and his wisdom. Secondly, verse 9 is a powerful declaration of Jesus' deity and humanity. You can find MUCH more on these verses at the links I provided above. So, let me invite you to commit these verses to memory along with me.

Memorizingly,
Russ

Friday, December 16, 2005

Interesting info on the origins of Christmas

For the last couple of years Christmas has brought about many mixed feelings for me. On the one hand I have many fond memories of Christmas, not just getting presents, but of spending time with family and celebrating Christ's birth through the typical Christmas activities. But then I heard that some Christians think celebrating Christmas is wrong, even sinful, because it was originally a pagan religious festival and therefore should be avoided and basically ignored. Now, this was troubling information for me, rightly so, but I have learned, thankfully, to take my time with information such as this and try to find a biblically balanced view of things.

So, I have now been reading that Christmas was in fact not a response to a pagan ritual but the other way around. Justin Taylor has put together the post I wanted to here. Please review the articles he has posted and there are some informative links in the comment section also.

I am still trying to understand how the argument against Christmas does not commit the genetic fallacy, a logical fallacy. This probably needs more study and thought, but you've got to start somewhere right? I am more concerned with the commercialism and superficiality of the holiday than any pagan rituals or Roman Catholic Masses that occured over a century ago. In the meantime, I'll continue to celebrate Christmas, somewhat reservedly, but encouraged that I get to celebrate Christ birth, death, and resurrection every single Sunday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Obsessing over Calvinism?

This post over at Purgatorio was just too good not to link to. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Apocalyptic Christmas?

Shouldn't I take a break from the Apocalypse to highlight the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay? Isn't there something kind of, well, unseasonable about teaching, at this time of year, about a Christ who bears a sword and a cosmic entourage, who prepares his people a messianic banquet and then prepares for the birds a banquet of the flesh and blood of his enemies (Rev 19:17-19)? It is hard to imagine Tiny Tim exclaiming "God bless us every one" after hearing my lesson on southern-fried Gog and Magog.


Read the whole thing here.

Man, I have so many mixed feelings about Christmas that I am not ready to dive into that subject fully, but wouldn't it dampen a lot of people's exuberence for "the holidays" if we more boldly proclaimed that the little baby you have in your manger scene or the one down the street will one day come back to judge their every thought and action and the only way to escape impending eternal punishment is to bow the knee and place their faith in his bloody sacrifice on the cross?

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mercer University...Baptist No More?

Dr. Bob Rogers has a sadly interesting post about what is going on over at Mercer University and their future as a Southern Baptist supported college. Apparently Mercer is "Baptist" in name only. A college that started by Christians as a Christian institution and over time completely removed itself from any semblence of Christianity, well that is just part of the American landscape. What college today over 150 years old does not fit that statement? Well, when we see this happening elsewhere we are not surprised, but in Macon, GA? And to a Southern Baptist school? The same convention that has done a yoemans job of purging itself of "moderates" apparently has some purging left to do...or does it?

According to Dr. Rogers the Georgia Baptists have voted to stop funding and cut all ties to the school. Now I can't argue with this decision one bit. Would I want my money going to support a "Christian" instituion that condones and encourages blatantly sinful activities? Of course not, and I agree with this decision. But a part of me says, should they give up that easily? I don't know all the details but I wonder what could be done to try and bring Mercer back to a institution that reflected Southern Baptists beliefs, not rejected them. Perhaps that is indeed an impossibility. I hate seeing Christians continue to seemingly back away from society and culture and instead confront it, or redeem it if you prefer that terminology. Instead of giving up on (fill in blank) lets get to work on redeeming (fill in blank).

Now let me reiterate, I am thinking out loud here and have no clue what the plans are for Mercer and I am not disagreeing with the decision to remove funding. I would just love to have a conservative, Baptist, missional college a couple of hundred miles away where my daughter could attend one day. I wonder if that is a realistic goal or am I just dreaming?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

QOD

The Federalist Patriot
Founders' Quote Daily

"The house of representatives...can make no law which will not
have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well
as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one
of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the
rulers and the people together. It creates between them that
communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few
governments have furnished examples; but without which every
government degenerates into tyranny."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 57, 19 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 57

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The series continues...Birth Control

Dr. Moore has a link to a very thought provoking article over at Christianity Today. My favorite line from Dr. Moore's post is this one:

Still, there's something refreshing about Tennant pondering aloud what it means to apply a biblical worldview to her bedroom, and her medicine cabinet.


Man, I want to apply a biblical worldview to *EVERY SPHERE OF MY LIFE*. How about you? If so, you'll want to read his post, then the article.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Frightening Display

Over at Dr. White's blog he has a pretty frightening report of a conference gone bad, at least the protesting has gone bad. See here. These kind of things are becoming more and more normal it seems. We as Christians need to stand up against this kind of behavior and do our best to hold our elected officials and and law enforcement personnel to some kind of modicom of common sense. Yes, this starts with prayer. I am challenged to always remember our civil leaders in prayer. But in addition, we need to let our voices be heard, in a civil, humble, and truthful manner. Our challenge in the here and now is a two pronged attack. To redeem individuals through the proclamation of the gospel of Christ, and to encourage our Christian brothers & sisters to redeem our culture through intellectually and morally honest cultural engagement.

Russ

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

JOC: Redemption Songs

My awesome wife gave me Jars of Clay's latest CD "Redemption Songs". I am really enjoying this CD tremendously. Some of the tunes might throw you off if you are really used to these old hymns, but the words are incredibly God exalting and encouraging. If your interested in what this CD is all about, check out this interview with Jars of Clay bandmember Charlie Lowell entitled "Old Words, Vibrant Faith."

I give it two thumbs up.

Calvinism Debate

Well, it looks like Dr. Mohler and Dr. Patterson are going to debate Calvinism next year.

Can't wait to see how this plays out. I'll try to let you know when I hear more about it.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

More on Worship

Worship in truth requires a right conception of who we worship, but also of how we worship him. It requires right methods that are taught by God’s Word. All through the Bible, we find people worshiping God sincerely but according to their own ideas of worship – and they are rejected by God. The first was Cain, who failed to bring a blood sacrifice for his sins and thus was turned away. Nadab and Abihu brought “unauthorized fire” into the Lord’s house and they “died before the Lord” (Num. 3:4). Perhaps the most significant example of false worship is the golden calf made by Aaron at the peoples’ request, while Moses was away on the mountain with God. It is important to know that the name “Yahweh” was inscribed on the golden calf: this idolatrous feast was offered to “the Lord” (Ex. 32:5). They sought to worship the true God in a false way, according to their own designs, and God was angered with great fury.


Get your fill here.

New Book on Dating from 5 Christian Perspectives

The issues of dating, courtship, and marriage have become hot-button concerns among American evangelicals--and especially among young people, their parents, and those who would minister among them. This much is clear: The model of dating, "hooking up," and romantic involvement that prevails in the larger culture is incompatible with the Christian understanding of marriage, love, sex, and romance.


Dr. Mohler must have read my blog on dating and decided it was a worthy topic. :)

Those of you who are interested in forming a Christian understanding of dating/courtship might want to check out this new book profiled here by Dr. Mohler. Spread the word.

Russ

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Next: MacArthur's Take on Halloween

From the Bible Bulletin Board.


Question:
I have a little boy who is going to Christian School--he's in Kindergarten. It has come to my attention that they are going to be making "Jack 'O Lanterns," for Halloween and "Black Cats." I talked to his teacher and she said that "at Christmas they make Santa Clauses, and Easter Bunnies on Easter." I told her, I said that, "This is why my son is in Christian School--I want him to be separated from this. I teach him at home that we are not supposed to be a part of Halloween or this and that, but yet you are compromising, or contrary to me, to what I am saying and it is confusing him." "Mommy, why can't I do this; they are doing it?" And he understands he is in a Christian School. I have an appointment to talk with the principle of the school tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock--can you give me some advice?

Answer from MacArthur:

I think that's good. Well, I think you're right. Why create the unnecessary confusion? "Jack 'O Lanterns," and "Cats," and "Witches," and "Devils," and "Demons," and people dressed up in funny costumes and all of that. That is all out of paganism. In fact, I wrote a whole thing on that one time--I don't know if we have any of those around any more. The terrible mixture of Old Church festivals with pagan festivals, you know, like the Saturnalia feast of the pagans that got all mixed up with Christmas and that kind of thing. I think that it is good to keep those things distinct, and I think you're right to go talk to the Principle. I think it is a simple an issue as basically saying, "Look, this is a Christian School so let's celebrate the things that speak of Christ and the Word of God, and set a different pattern."

What we have always done with our kids in reference to Halloween, is to give them some kind of alternative when they were little (now they don't care). But when they were little we wanted to do something as a family that would be even more special than what everybody else did; and if you can create that for your own child he's not going to have any problem with what the others are doing if you do something with him that is even better. But I would definitely speak to the people and let them know how you feel about that; I think that is very important.

Question:

Is there anything wrong with children going out ?Trick or Treating?, like Halloween, and if so, what specifically is bad in it, and what do the MacArthur kids do? And, should Grace get involved in any alternatives?

Answer from MacArthur:

I think, it?s not a wise thing to have children go out trick or treating. I mean, I think it?s kind of dumb for Christian kids to dress up like ghosts and witches and weird things, and devil suits, and trouble-makers, and all that. I think, for example, you know, the whole thing of All Saints Day or All Hallows Eve has connotations, first of all of Roman Catholic tradition.

It has connotations of demons and spirits. Plus the fact that little kids are exposed to screwballs as well as to cars, and all kinds of other things. What we do in our family is we have an alternative. Like you said, we do an alternative thing. We do something fun for the whole family. It varies from year to year, and our church has always done that, too, for the kids. Have parties and socials and things. Because other little kids, you know, may get involved in things that are that way and they get something to talk about, anyway. And, they can say that they had a good time, too, and what they did. But, I think we have to be aware of the fact that we have to deal with alternatives in those things.

We do the same thing with Christmas. Our Christmas is a Christmas without Santa Claus. You know, I saw an ad in a Christian magazine the other day advertising some deal coming up for Christmas with Santa Claus kneeling at the manger. You know, that is so repulsive to me, you know. Santa Claus, what is he? Santa Claus wasn't kneeling at the manger. I mean, that's absurd! That is the typical marriage of the pagan with the Christian. There's no Santa Claus in our Christmas, either. But, we have Christmas because that's a good time to remember Christ's birth and focus on him. So, I would be for an alternative. We would not have our children involved in that.

QOD

The Federalist Patriot
Founders' Quote Daily

"Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather
than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through
so many new hands."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to James Madison, 1784)

Reference: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd,
ed., 7:557.


Can anyone say...fair tax!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Followup to the Birth Control Post

I just wanted to make one thing clear concerning my birth control post. I am all for Christian couples who want to have as many children as possible and am decidedly pro-limited use of BC. I can think of nothing better than large Christian families who are dedicated to bringing up Children in a godly family in the nurture of Christ. Expansion of the Kingdom of God brings joy to my heart! But, I think this position is one to be reached from the mindset of Christian liberty, and do not see an absolute law set forth in The Bible for this to apply to all situations at all times. I am open to correction on this, but at this point I still echo the sentiments of Doug Wilson's article.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Some interesting articles

There are a few interesting articles that I wanted to point you to.

First, Can one be saved without knowing about Jesus by J.I. Packer in Chritianity Today.

Next, two articles in the Boston Globe. The first is "Dobson's spiritual empire wields political clout" and the second is "Baptist lobbyist walks a fine line" about Richard Land. I learned a few things in both of these articles that I did not know.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Birth Control

"So What About Birth Control . . . ?"

By Douglas Wilson

In one sense, the fact that birth control is an issue in the church again is a
good sign. No longer are Christians automatically assuming that a practice which is widespread in the world must be okay.

At the same time, just because multitudes of non-Christians are doing something does not automatically make it unlawful either. So how are we to approach the question?

The first step is to see if the Bible teaches directly on the subject. And at
this level it is clear that certain forms of birth control are expressly
prohibited in Scripture. Beginning with the most obvious, we may exclude
infanticide and abortion. The Bible excludes all such practices in the most
direct way possible -- "Thou shalt not kill." What many may not realize is that
this commandment also excludes certain birth control devices, such as "morning after pills," or the IUD. These are devices which prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, and which consequently are unlawfully interfering with a human life after it has begun.

But what about other birth control devices? Does the Bible say anything about
the lawfulness of a husband and wife limiting the number of children they have, or spacing them? The answer is both yes and no. There is nothing in Scripture that says the act of using birth control is unlawful in itself. At the same time, most birth control as practiced today is sinful in its motivation and application. To understand this we have to look at a related subject first.

While the Bible says nothing about birth control, it teaches much about children and family. So before we can ask whether the practice of birth control is lawful, we have to ask whether or not it springs from an understanding of, and submission to, the Bible's teaching on the blessings of family. And because situations vary, sometimes it does and much of the time it does not.

Let us start with an example of a situation where the use of birth control would
not be godly. Suppose a couple is thinking this way: "You know, kids are a hassle, both our careers are going well right now, the world is really overpopulated, and besides, we can always go off the pill later." Nothing is more apparent than the fact that this couple has been drinking in worldly assumptions from a fire hose.

Now a counter-example: "The Lord has graciously given us six children, and they are all a delight to us. But we have recently been thinking about using birth control because it is getting harder and harder to feed them all -- and the tuition costs for a biblical private education (or the time costs for a biblical home education) really add up."

Now the second couple may be mistaken in their assumptions (about their ability to care for seven children, for example). But this mistaken assumption is not the same kind of thing as the sinful and rebellious attitude exhibited by the first couple. In contrast, we see a family which believes that children are a blessing, and they have been acting accordingly.


Because the Bible says nothing about birth control itself, we must evaluate the
action based upon whether the action is motivated by a biblical attitude toward children and family.

Some have argued that the case of Onan spilling his seed on the ground in
Genesis is an example of God's judgment on an act of birth control. And so it
was -- but here our point (about the primacy of motivation) is strengthened. The thing that was objectionable in Onan's action was his deliberate attempt to rob his deceased brother of his posterity (Gen. 38:9). In other words, judgment fell on him because his motives were evil. Consequently, those who practice birth control with ungodly motives are following in the footsteps of Onan. But it takes a good deal of ingenuity to make a connection between this evil motive of Onan's and the motive of a godly couple who practice birth control to space their children in order to maximize the number of children they can have (e.g., because she has to deliver by Caesarean section). So when there is no clear teaching in the Scripture on a subject of moral and ethical behavior, it is necessary for us to be silent. We may not condemn something as sin in itself simply on the grounds that most people who do it are sinful in their motivations.

But this does not mean that a Christian husband and wife practicing birth control are free to assume they are doing right. It is true, as was argued above, that this entire issue must be understood in the light of our motivations. It is also true that in the area of motivations, we are answerable to God and Him alone. The issue of birth control is not an area where the civil magistrate or the elders of the church have any business. If an ungodly attitude toward children and family is visible and apparent, then that should be addressed by the elders of a church. But they should deal with it the same way they would deal with an analogous situation(e.g., someone who has an ungodly attitude toward alcohol -- which is not sinful in itself but which can be abused).

Parents are stewards before God, and it is children which are entrusted to them. Some parents receive the resources which God gives and bring up many children to serve Him. They are greatly blessed. Other parents may limit the children they have but believe the children they have to be a great blessing, and they also bring them up to serve the Lord. These parents are also blessed by God. When Jesus told the parable of the talents, He did not refer to any quarrel between the man who had ten talents and the man who had five.

The one who got into trouble (with his master, and not with his fellow-servants)was the one who feared to be entrusted with any responsibility. He buried what he had in the ground and was condemned by his master. And this is what many Christian couples have done and are doing. They don't want the responsibility of parenthood, but God has said that He made them one for the purpose of godly offspring (Mal. 2:15).

So our modern debate about birth control has unfortunately gravitated to the methods used -- as if the lazy servant could have justified himself by pointing out that the action of burying money in the ground is not inherently sinful. True enough, but beside the point.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the use of birth control is sinful. So it is wrong to say that it is. The Bible does consistently say that children are a blessing from the Lord. And it is a sin to say or act as though they are not.

[End of Article]

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Apologetics in a Postmodern Age

I have enjoyed reading Dr. Mohler's three part series on apologetics over at his website. He has gone through Paul's visit to Athens as recorded in Acts 17 and given us what he thinks represents Paul's method. I enjoyed this because I have over the last several months been thinking about which apologetic method is the best. I mean presuppositional, evidential, classical, or none of the above? I would say I lean presuppositional but haven't really studied out the classical method. It seems at this point that a combination of methods that are tailor made to the situation is the best tactic. Dr. Mohler has given us an outline to follow while leaving the specifics up to us to figure out. Just like a professor. Just like the real world.

Here they are...enjoy.

You are bringing strange things to our ears - Part 1
You are bringing strange things to our ears - Part 2
You are bringing strange things to our ears - Part 3

With no apologies,
Russ

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Halloween

The Way of the Heathen: A Brief Summary of Halloween

I don't know how accurate this article is, but it raises some interesting points, and I have no real reason to doubt it. What is your view of Halloween?

Russ

Holiness

First then, let me try to show what true practical holiness is—what sort of persons are those whom God calls holy.

a) Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment—hating what He hates, loving what He loves—and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.

b) A holy man will endeavour to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have a decided bent of mind toward God, a hearty desire to do His will, a greater fear of displeasing Him than of displeasing the world, and a love to all His ways.

c) A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ.…Much time would be saved, and much sin prevented, if men would oftener ask themselves the question, “What would Christ have said or done, if He were in my place?”

d) A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue. He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much, and be slow to talk of standing on his rights.

e) A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labour to mortify the desires of his body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrains carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose.…(Luke 21:34) (1 Cor. 9:27)

f) A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness. He will endeavour to observe the golden rule of doing as he would have men do to him, and speaking as he would have men speak to him.

g) A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others. He will not stand all the day idle. He will not be content with doing no harm—he will try to do good.

h) A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation.

i) A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment, and would be idle if he did not dread discovery. I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him.

j) A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself.

k) A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life.…Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can help it.

l) Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand.

J. C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindernaces, Difficulties, and Roots, 1879 (Moscow, ID: Charles Nolan Publishers, 2001).— p.p. 42-46

Friday, October 07, 2005

QOD

Dax has inspired today's quote (along with my listening of "Adams vs. Jefferson" by John Ferling.)

"It is a very dangerous doctrine to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions. It is one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy." —Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Around the blogs

I have read some great posts today. Two of them are over at Tom Ascol's Blog.

The first is on Word regulated worship and starts like this:

Does God have an opinion about how His creatures should worship Him? Yes He does. He has expressed Himself repeatedly on the subject. The first commandment tells us who to worship ("You shall have no other gods before Me," Exodus 20:3) and the second tells us how to worship ("You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:4-6).


Read the rest here. What Pastor Ascol is talking about here is the Regulative Principle of Worship, which simply means we worship God in the way he has regulated for us to worship, namely, how the Bible tells us to. This is understood as a consistant way to view worship. God has regulated everything pertaining to godliness, including worship. I agree with his post wholeheartedly.

I'll just give you the title of his next post. Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames and baptisms called due to rain. Read through the comments here. Good stuff.

A third blog I liked today is over at Tim Challies' blog. Here is a snippet from it.

The Bible continually affirms that women are extraordinary. Women have value and worth that is in every way equal to men. Women are no mere afterthought, but are an integral and equal part of God's design for human beings. The Bible is unique in that it honors women as women, exalting them for their femininity, and encouraging them to seek honor in a uniquely feminine and God-glorifying way.


I guess since I have found out that I am going to be a father to a future woman, my heart has suddenly softened to the beauty and purpose of the highly favored status that the Bible gives to women. I look forward to being taught about this more in the future.

Grace,
Russ

Effingham C.A.R.E.S. for Gulfport

Please check our Pastor Robert's report on his trip to Gulfport.

Q.O.D. (Quote of the Day)

The Federalist Patriot
Founders' Quote Daily

"Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin
sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences
run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and
the moral sense, forms an essential part of both."

-- James Wilson ()

Reference: The Works of James Wilson, McCloskey, ed., 125.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Overpopulation???

I think about this article by Mark Coppenger occasionally and it makes me laugh every time I think about it. Not because I disagree, but because, well...its funny. I have friends that think the be fruitful mandate is still in total, full throttle force, and others who don't think it is applicable at all. I fall in between, but closer to the it is in full force side. This article is funny but factual at the same time. Nothing funny though about Christians completely disregarding God's intended purposes for their lives and living a life in willful disobedience to his commands to raise Godly children to the Glory of God. Just as sad to me though is those who do not bow the knee to God, but are repulsed by even the idea of children who bear the image of God. The feminist mind set is alive and well everybody, inside and outside the church. I don't know if I am a quiver full guy or not, but I know I don't want to be guilty of disobeying the orders of my master. Give it a read and decide for yourself.

Quivering in His presence,
Russ

Monday, October 03, 2005

Keeping the Commandments

1 John 2:3 - And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
So then, the certainty of faith depends on the grace of Christ alone; but piety and holiness of life distinguish true faith from that knowledge of God that is fictitious and dead, for the truth is that those who are in Christ, as Paul says, have taken off the old self (Colossians 3:9). - John Calvin, Commentary on 1 John


I have been studying 1 John tonight for Sunday School next weekend. Man, I really like reading what Calvin has to say about the Bible.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Homers?

Over at Justin Taylor's blog, he has a link to an article by Doug Wilson entitle "Homers". While I definitely am leaning toward homeschooling my child one day(my wife willing), I understand that this is an issue that each set of parents must determine for themselves. I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the my way or the highway attitude of some when it comes to educating *other people's* children, regardless of which side of the fence you are on. So check out Mr. Wilson's article, and lets be free to disagree over an issue that is potentially becoming devisive to the church of Christ. As always, I rejoice in your comments.

Agreeably,
Russ

Quote of the Day

From the Federalist Patriot Founder's daily quote:

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can
any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is
preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant,
and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own
weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."

-- Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (261)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Roberts Confirmed

John Roberts has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next Chief Justice of the United States. Check out how your senator voted. Here is the good news.

"If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, then the little guy's going to win in the court before me," Roberts told senators. "But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well then the big guy's going to win because my obligation is to the Constitution."


This is exactly what we need, a Judge who knows what a judge is supposed to do. Now the not so good news.

Over and over, he has assured lawmakers his rulings would be guided by his understanding of the facts of cases, the law and the Constitution, not by his personal views. "My faith and my religious beliefs do not play a role," said Roberts, who is Catholic.


Now I am not concerned that he is Catholic, this is a governmental post, not a religious one. Now I can take this two ways. One, he realizes that objectivity is needed in his job. I don't think this is bad. The other way I could take this is he believes in some faith/value, sacred/secular split in his belief system. This is surely possible. Overall I am happy about this selection and feel Judge Roberts will do a great job.

Concerning Roe vs. Wade, it should not matter the judge's personal or religious views about this decision. They should realize the U.S. Constitution does not provide the right to abortion and understand that murdering innocent unborn Americans is a brutal, barbaric "right" that must be stopped. Lets hope and pray our court starts heading that way.

Was expulsion necessary?

Earlier this week I chimed in a couple of times on a post over at World Magazine Blog. Check it out and let me know what you think should have been done.

Russ

In or out?

Dr. White has a great post today responding to some writings by Paul Owen. What interests me is Dr. White's use of Fred Malone's commentary on Romans 11 and how does one enter the new covenant. This is good stuff for those of you who want to better understand the Baptist position on baptism. Also the snippet from O. Palmer Roberton on Romans 11:26 about who is the Israel of God is good stuff.

Dunkeningly yours,
Russ

Monday, September 19, 2005

"Troubling Stats"

An article over at BPNews Highlights some statistics concerning Teen sexual promiscuity, specifically oral sex.

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)--“At 50 percent, we’re talking about a major social norm,” Claire Brindis said. “It’s part of kids’ lives.”

The professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco was not talking about braces or cell phones; she was speaking about oral sex.

According to a report released Sept. 15 by the National Center for Health Statistics, slightly more than half of American teenagers ages 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex. That number jumps to 70 percent for 18 and 19 year olds.

A report issued earlier this year, based on the same research gathered in 2002 and 2003, surprisingly showed that slightly more girls than boys have had intercourse before they turn 20. Also, the number of high school girls who have engaged in casual sexual encounters now equals boys.


Now, I'm not really sounding the alarms about something that is not new news. After all, I think there are those in our society who have been ringing these bells since I was a teen. (Yes, that amount of time is growing larger and larger). What this article made me think about was teenage dating. Where do we think all of this promiscuous activity is happening? Do we think it is happening while teens are hanging out with friends under parental or responsible adult supervision? Our youth group at my church has been discussing dating for the last few weeks. My view I think can be summed up pretty well in this summary of the book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris. Here is a snippet.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye is not just about sexual purity; it scrutinizes the whole course of friendship, courtship, romance, engagement, and marriage. In a chapter on what's wrong with the current approach, Harris argues that dating (1) leads to intimacy but not necessarily to commitment; (2) tends to skip the "friendship" stage of a relationship; (3) often mistakes a physical relationship for love; (4) often isolates a couple from other vital relationships; (5) in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future; (6) can cause discontentment with God's gift of singleness; and (7) creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person's character.


First a brief description of dating. This would be spending major amounts of time alone for the sole purpose of pepetuating an emotional/romantic involvement. Now,I think at the very least Christians should be coninually looking at ways to protect our children from the influences of sin in the world, and in their own hearts. My question is, do you think dating at a young age (13-17) is teaching our children the Biblical principles of self-control, patience, and purity, or even fostering an enviroment condusive to these qualities? Just asking what you think.

Curious,
Russ

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