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.

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