Contend Earnestly: 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Contend Earnestly Remix Tape 2008

For my younger readers the above picture is what we used to call a "tape." Long gone are the remix tapes and such, and now we have "Playlists" and MP3's. But, for this year I want to throw it back to give a remix of Contend Earnestly this past year. It has definitely been a busy year and also at times controversial. But, what would Contend be without being controversy? It is interesting the people that read my blog. It is definitely a hodgepodge of people. I have pastors, missionaries, atheists, Arminians, Calvinists, tree huggers, democrats, republicans and yes, I even have cult members that check in once in a while. Oh yeah, shout out to my Aussie readers.

This year has been busy and one that I won't forget for a while. At times I love blogging and at times I hate blogging, but in the end I am like a fat kid with cake, I can't get enough. Who cares if I don't like the flavor, I can't stop forcing it down my throat. This post is all about the remix of 2008. The highs and lows of the blog that you probably either hate or love, and you have definitely been made fun at times. You have either laughed or posted a comment anonymously and went off at me. Which just makes me write more about you that makes others laugh.

I had a lady at my church, whom I love to mess with and she loves to mess with me (she reads the blog) and she told me that one of my posts she was really wanting me to make a misstep so she could blast me, but I didn't. I asked her, "what bugs you, cause I will make sure I post on that next time." I just like messing with people to get them to think. That is probably the number one reason that I blog and I hope that is the reason you keep checking in. Just to see, "What will Seth write that will challenge my thinking on the theological implications of my life?"

You might agree, you might disagree, but I hope you never come to this blog without getting pushed to make you think about your convictions. That is my desire. I don't care if we agree, I just hope you can have a defense biblically for why you are convicted about certain things.

So, to give you a reminder of where we have been this year, let's take a look:

Probably the number one thing that this blog has ever contributed and is hopefully going to get published is the 10 Steps to Become a Legalist. Guaranteed you have been offended at some point while reading these. I still have the 10th step to get to and the conclusion so if you haven't been offended, you either need to read them again, or I will try my best to get you with the last two posts on the subject. I have received many emails, comments, etc. on these posts and have enjoyed writing on the subject because I used to be, and continue to be, a legalist in certain areas in my life.

Another thing that completely hit off the charts was the live blogging I did at the Resurgence Conference which then lead to MacArthur making comments against contextualization that were absurd and lead to a world wide blog war against MacArthur, Busenitz and Phil Johnson. Like most things, it was edifying to work through the issues, too strong at points and just plain funny on other points.

I definitely covered a wide variety of subjects this year. From smoking, boring preachers, contemporary Christian "music", divorce, politics, etc. But, the two that definitely brought the most attention was harsh language and calling James White a hypercalvinist.

I still stand by my posts on harsh language and the video that Paul Tripp did for the Desiring God Conference this year. Much was said, much was debated, but I was right and most of what others said against it was crap. We learned further that Steve Camp is headed down the proverbial road to crazyville and taking his clones with him. Sad where he has headed on this road. But, you know what they say, if you believe you are a leader and you turn around and no one is following you are just out on a long walk. So, I hope he has fun trying to continue to bash Tripp, Piper and Driscoll on this matter. But, I hope that he goes at it alone.

The second one was calling James White a hypercalvinist. Strange what happens when you use those words. What is interesting is we saw what kind of guy he is. He challenged me on his radio show, made some pretty crass remarks, asked me to prove my point, which I did, and he never followed up. He seems to like to do this. He calls people out and doesn't follow up, which is disheartening. I know he moved on to deal with others that made similar remarks, but if his challenge wasn't serious I wish he would have just left my blog out of it. Oh well, you know what they say, any publicity is good publicity. I guess this "young man" who hasn't read any of White's books (?) will stay anonymous (I wonder why he has a double standard with Turretinfan?) and just keep blogging about things that are over my head. I am sure that James White will want to debate someone on the subject, as that is the only way to make him happy: to have a debate. We should debate sometime on why debating doesn't really get anywhere but usually ends up just tearing each other up.

It has definitely been a fun year with more to come. I hope you keep reading and challenging my convictions and conclusions. And know that if you comment anonymously I will poke fun at you because you are probably from my church. So what have we learned this year on Contend?

We have learned that God's desire is for us to edify each other with harsh words because we are all in some way legalists, but God desires for us to all love him.

So, my conclusion for 2008?

Shut up and quit being a legalist. Oh yeah, God loves you. Even you, you cult leader, trying to lead my readers astray. You know who you are.

Til next year. Have a good one.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Who is Saint Nicholas?

I jacked this from Driscoll, but liked it so I figured I would repost it here. Have a Merry Christmas.

The larger-than-life myths surrounding Santa Claus actually emanate from the very real person of Saint Nicholas. It is difficult to know the exact details of his life with certainty, as the ancient records are sparse, but the various pieces can be put together as a mosaic of his life.

Who was Saint Nick?
Nicholas was born in the third century in Patara, a village in what is now Turkey. He was born into an affluent family, but his parents died tragically when he was quite young. His parents had raised him to be a devout Christian, which led him to spend his great inheritance on helping the poor, especially children. He was known to frequently give gifts to children, sometimes even hanging socks filled with treats and gifts.

Perhaps his most famous act of kindness was helping three sisters. Because their family was too poor to pay for their wedding dowry, three young Christian women were facing a life of prostitution until Nicholas paid their dowry, thereby saving them from a horrible life of sexual slavery.

Nicholas grew to be a well-loved Christian leader and was eventually voted the Bishop of Myra, a port city that the apostle Paul had previously visited (Acts 27:5-6). Nicholas reportedly also traveled to the legendary Council of Nicea, where he helped defend the deity of Jesus Christ in AD 325.

Following his death on December 6, 343, he was canonized as a Saint. The anniversary of his death became the St. Nicholas holiday when gifts were given in his memory. He remained a very popular saint among Catholic and Orthodox Christians, with some 2,000 churches named after him. The holiday in his honor eventually merged with Christmas as they were celebrated within weeks of one another.

Reformation Controversy

During the Reformation, however, Nicholas fell out of favor with Protestants, who did not approve of canonizing certain people as saints and venerating them with holidays. His holiday was not celebrated in any Protestant country except Holland, where his legend as Sinterklass lived on. In Germany, Martin Luther replaced him with the Christ child as the object of holiday celebration, or, in German, Christkindl. Over time, the celebration of the Christ child was simply pronounced Kriss Kingle and oddly became just another name for Santa Claus.

Santa Myths
The legends about Santa Claus are most likely a compilation of other folklore. For example, there was a myth in Nicholas’ day that a demon was entering people's homes to terrorize children and that Nicholas cast it out of a home. This myth may explain why it was eventually believed that he came down people's chimneys.

Also, there was a Siberian myth (near the North Pole) that a holy man, or shaman, entered people's homes through their chimneys to leave them mushrooms as gifts. According to the legend, he would hang them in front of the fire to dry. Reindeer would reportedly eat them and become intoxicated. This may have started the myth that the reindeer could fly, as it was believed that the shaman could also fly. This myth may have merged with the Santa Claus myth and if so, explains him traveling from the North Pole to come down the chimney and leave presents on the mantle over the fireplace before flying away with reindeer.

These stories of Santa Claus were first brought to America by Dutch immigrants. In the early 20th century, stores began having Santa Claus present for children during the Christmas season. Children also began sending letters to the North Pole as the legends surrounding an otherwise simple Christian man grew.

At the Resurgence, we keep the center of Christmas focused on Jesus; it’s probably what Nicholas would have wanted.

Original Post can be found here.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Joyous Faith of the Magi

This is a re-post from last Christmas that I thought I would put out there once more because I believe it gives us some good questions to ask. Have a great X-Mas, Christmas or Holiday.

One of the things that I appreciate a lot about holidays in general is that they put a stamp in time for us. We can remember back on exact dates and remember who we were and what we were up to. What I usually do around this time is think back to this time last year and simply ask myself, “Do I love Jesus more than I did this time last year?”

The incorrect question would be, “What works have I done?” so that the question becomes, “Does Jesus love me more than last year?”

Jesus loves you the same if you are one of His own. This doesn’t change. The problem is that we have so many religious people and their list of rules to follow that it becomes more about the list than loving Jesus who saved you.

As we come to this Christmas season, ask yourself, “Do I love Jesus more?” “Do I commune with Jesus more?” “Do I fellowship with Jesus more?”

Maybe a better question: Do I even know Jesus?

Let's take a look at the Magi, or wise men. I want you to ask these questions: Do I know Jesus? Am I saved from my sin? If I can say yes, “Am I closer to Jesus this year?” and “Where do I need to grow?”

Look to Matthew 2:1-12

We will look to two things:

The Prophecies of Christ
Reacting to Christ

Prophecies of Christ

As we come to this text, we have something occurring that is causing an uproar and that is found in the Magi, or wise men, coming and asking where the King of the Jews was because of prophecy.

Remember where we are here in the context of history. What just happened for 400 years between the prophet Malachi and John the Baptist? Nothing. God was silent.

And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day, that there was no prophet seen in Israel.
1 Maccabees 9:27

Israel went through a time of silence and this was really just like any other day. Then, all of the sudden, Magi come in and start inquiring, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”

They come based on prophecy. So, what was this prophecy that they spoke of?

“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth.
Numbers 24:17

There are all kinds of speculation what this star was, but I believe that it was more of a supernatural star, like the Shekinah glory seen in Exodus 13:21,22 because of the movement of the star and because it didn’t have a central location:

The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Exodus 13:21,22

The next prophecy we see is when Herod is getting nervous and asked where the Messiah was to be born, and they stated: in Bethlehem of Judah.

This comes from Micah 5:2 and John 7:42 also shows that this was all of Israel’s expectation:

2 “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Micah 5:2

This ruler to come is told even more specifically in Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:6 where it states:

14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Think of this: The ruler that was to come was going to be coming from eternity, from Bethlehem, born from a virgin, called Immanuel, or God with us, and will be called Mighty God, Eternal Father.

All this was going to be coming when the star rises from Jacob. This is the one who will be king, ruler, and who will save His people from their sins.

So, what’s the reaction? Maybe better put: what is our reaction to this?

Reacting to Christ

We have two types of people here: The powerful and religious and the pagan. Let’s look at the two:

First, the powerful and religious: This would include Herod, the scribes and the chief priests.

When the Magi come, what happens with Herod and the religious people? They are troubled.
This word is also translated in other places in the New Testament as meaning to be “terrified, to be stirred up, to be anxious”

So, we know that the first thing that these people do is become troubled instead of exceedingly joyous that the Messiah might be here. For Herod it was a power trip not wanting to give up his place of power. For the religious, I think it was something a lot more deep. They were anxious because they knew their deeds and knew that they were dark:

Look to 1 Thess 5:1-11

Notice that Paul is telling us here to be ready for the day of the Lord, for we do not know when it will come. Be alert, be sober, and with these in Thessolonica, keep doing as you are doing as you are encouraging and building up one another.

How did the Magi, who were pagan’s with no right to heaven, or God, if you asked the Jews, how did they react to the star, the prophecy that was coming true?

Look at Matthew 2:1 again:

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Notice that it does not say that they went straight to Herod or even the priests, but they arrived and were "saying" in Jerusalem. This word “saying” means to "continually inquire". They were going from place to place, asking the people, “Where is the Messiah?” They couldn’t wait to see him, they couldn’t wait to see God, they couldn’t wait to see the babe born of a virgin who was from eternity.

Why did they want to see the baby? They desired to worship Him. They were here, they were pagans, but they believed that the God, who created the universe, was here to be their king of all the earth, so they wanted to worship God.

The Magi are the godly ones here. They are the ones who were waiting for the star to appear for hundreds of years, yet notice what the Scribes and Priests say:

Oh, yeah…the Messiah…here is what the prophecy says

It is almost carelessness. There is this great commotion and it would seem that the religious could care less that the One that they have been reading about in the Scriptures could actually be amongst them. Notice what Herod does: he gathers all the religious people and it says that he “inquires” where he is to be born: This word inquire can denote “demanding”

Then look what happens. The scribes and priests give their report and Herod sends for the Magi. These Magi search diligently in Jerusalem for the child, so they can worship Him. They search so much that Herod gets wind of it, sends for them and still the Magi don’t back down. They come to the courts of the ruler of Jerusalem and tell him that they want to go and worship another ruler, another king, another who will be king of the earth. These Magi have so much tenacity to worship Jesus they don’t care what they have to do to find Him.

So, who would you think would be the most excited about the coming of the Messiah? Those who have devoted themselves to God’s Scriptures or those who are pagan and devoted themselves to the devil’s magic?

Who ends up doing the Lord’s work of worshiping the Messiah? The religious or pagan?

This is the difference of religious people and those who truly follow Jesus: Religious people are really there for themselves trying to please God without Jesus, but with their own works and views of who God is and wants, where those for Christ just want to worship, be with Jesus, and ask Him what He desires!

Notice here:

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”
9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:8-11

We find out in verse 13 that Herod is a liar and self motivated to find the child so that he might kill the Christ, the promised One.

So, Herod’s response to the child is not only terror and ignorance, but now we find his response is to try and kill the baby. What he didn’t realize is that his wishes would come true, but it would not happen for another 33 years.

So, do we have the religious going to see Jesus, to see the Christ? No…we see the Magi.

When the Magi again see the star and it is over where the Child is, look what happened. They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. This was what they were searching for, this is what they couldn’t wait to see. Their mission was almost over. Their lives almost complete. This joy is the same joy that is of a believer when he realizes that he has been sealed with the Spirit of Christ. This is the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 of love, joy, peace, patience. This is the joy that John the Baptist said he had in just hearing Jesus’ voice. This is the joy that Christ prayed in the high priestly prayer in John 17 that all his people would have.

Who has this joy? The religious that should have been joyous, or the pagan Magi, who have nothing to do with Jesus? It is the Magi. For the religious, instead of joy, are troubled, not joyous. Know for certain, the Magi’s joy is not a reaction to the star, this isn’t simply happiness, this is an overwhelming joy of completeness. To discern a full description of the Magi and us is found in John 1:10-13:

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:10-13

So, because of this joy, what do the Magi do? The fell down and worshiped. This is not just a ceremonial worship reserved for worldly kings, but we see with the determination, the seeking, the rejoicing and joy, they could finally do the one thing that they said they wanted to do: worship the King.

This term “fell” connotates the fact that they literally fell prostrate like a dead man. They saw the Child and they were overwhelmed with the fact that after 1400 years (that was the approx. year Numbers was written) that God should choose these specific Magi to be the ones to find the Christ child, to be able to see Him face to face, to stare into his eyes, to see God face to face, to see the Word that became flesh, the One who was to bring salvation, the One who would be their King. These Magi had probably been handed down this prophecy of the Christ child from generations to generations and they were the ones whom God chose to finally take part.

So, we have the Magi, who probably numbered in the hundreds, standing outside this small house, they see the Child who was promised long ago and they couldn’t bear it, they couldn’t control themselves, so they fall like dead men, like a wave in the ocean, probably close to 200 men, fall in unison, to worship Jesus.

Have you heard the song by Mercy Me, “I Can Only Imagine” when they sing:

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

To these questions from this Christian band, I believe we find the answer in Matthew 2. I think we will find ourselves a lot like the Magi. For if you are a Christian, you must take after these Magi. You have journeyed for days and years, you have wanted to just be with Jesus and see His face. You want to see the One who saved you from your sin, you want to see the One who was sacrificed like an animal on a stake so that you can be in God’s presence, you want to see the one who saved you out of the bondage of paganism into the loving arms of your God. You want to be with the one who will wipe away all your tears, who loves you because you are His own.

And when that time comes. When you see the Lamb, we will do what we have only dreamed of doing: worshiping Him at His feet as we fall like dead men.

After the Magi get done worshiping, which I can’t imagine how long they were on their faces. After all, what compels a man to finally get up and stop worshiping at the feet of Jesus, the Promised Christ? Whatever it was they got up and presented Jesus with gifts. Some make more out of these gifts than is appropriate, for they are simply gifts that were custom to give to a king. The Magi show that they believe that this King deserves full kingship and following. They believe He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, so what better way than to lay dead at his feet and worship him and give this small baby, the gifts only deserving for a king.

Notice that these Magi don’t ask anything from the Christ, yet they offer gifts to Him. They realize that just by Christ coming is enough, Jesus needs not to give them anything more, His life is enough.


What is Christmas to you? What are the things that we dwell on? When you think of the Christ, the Messiah, are you more troubled because you are not ready for Christ to come or are you diligently seeking Christ so that your joy may be made full, so that you can worship him with exceeding praise?

Are you more like the religious of the days that only do religious things but never have turned your life over to Jesus. Or, are you like the pagan Magi who only cared to see the Christ so that they could worship Him?

See what Revelation 22:20,21, the last verses in the Bible say:

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Revelation 22:20-21

Is this us? Is this you? Do you say, Come Lord Jesus, so I can worship you, so my joy may be made full at the seeing of your face. Or does this simply trouble you, does this terrify you? Does it terrify you that Christ could come today and ask you “Why should you enter into my holy place?”

If you don’t know Jesus, let this Christmas be the Christmas that Jesus gives you a gift. Let this Christmas be the Christmas that you can confidently say, “Come Lord Jesus.”

Be like the Magi, look for Jesus so that you can worship Him at his feet. So that you can hail Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. Listen to the last words spoken of in the Gospel of Luke:

and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. “You are witnesses of these things. “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.
Luke 24:46-53

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Putting "Christ" Back Into Christmas?

Tell some Christians "Merry X-Mas" or "Happy Holidays" and they will react as bad as they would if you preach with jeans on or try and contextualize the gospel to their children. They simply lose it. I have seen some, when told "Happy Holidays" in the supermarket, snapping back, "Merry CHRISTmas!" Wow. They'll tell you that if you use these terms that you are not being a witness for Christ during this special part of the year. Don't you know that if you rearrange the letters of Santa you can make the name of Satan! Or, I will put the name of Christ back into Christmas, while you put the "ho, ho" back into the term ho-liday.

I find it odd that people hold so dear the term Christmas while not really thinking of the other terms or who is using them. They also parade the term like it is as biblical as the Trinity. While Christmas is definitely a special time of year and one that I do enjoy because Christ is definitely on display in many places, the fact is that never in the Bible are we told to remember the birth of Christ.

While the consumerism does bother me quite a bit during Christmas, so does the Christian who marches around with a chip on their shoulder like they are taking on the world that hates Jesus during the Christmas time. They find it funny when people spray paint red on fur coats and yell, "murderer" but what they don't understand is they look just as ridiculous with their "Merry CHRISTmas" as they try and be a witness when yelling at the clerk that is just trying to keep his job by following the boss' orders to say "Happy Holidays."

Here are a couple of reasons that the terms "Merry X-Mas" and "Happy Holidays" don't bother me at all and could care less who uses the terms or why.

1. Merry X-Mas is Merry CHRIST-mas

This is actually pretty funny. Most people get angry when they see the "X" in place of "Christ" in Christmas. They say that people are taking Christ out of Christmas or that people are crossing out Christ for Christmas. These same people crack me up because they also have 5 different kinds of "Jesus Fish" on the back of their car and every one of the i's on their t-shirts are dotted with the Ichthus as well.

If they just did some looking around they would notice that in the Ichthus that the second letter in the Ichthus is the Greek letter "x" that stands for...yeah...Christ. This shortened term for Christ seems to go all the way back to the 4th century and one of the most endeared symbols in our Christian history uses it in the Chi Rho by Constantine.

I actually laugh every time I hear someone get upset about someone using "X" in place of Christ. If they stopped making T-Shirts saying "Put Christ Back Into Christmas", take off their earphones blasting "Christian" music and step out of their bubble they would realize that when someone uses "X" in Christmas it gives us a great opportunity to speak about what the "X" stands for. I would ask that people do research on how the "X" was used and then be ready to speak to others about its importance. I think we would all be surprised at the usage and also the reaction of knowing the importance of the term and the realization that they haven't taken Christ out of Christmas, but kept Him there and given us a great way to contextualize the gospel to others.

2. Happy Holidays!

The second thing that really irks people are stores or people that say, "Happy Holidays!" What is the big deal? We have always said that this is a great "holiday season" and the term means "Holy Day." And by the way, whether we like to admit it or not, there is more going on during the solstice than just Christmas. We also have Kwanzaa, Hanukka and don't forget the best of all the holidays, Festivus for the rest of us. Now, I am not saying that these holidays are to be revered in any way or are they correct in any way. But, we must realize that since we are not a Christian nation but we are a nation of many religions and many diverse people, that stores who pigeonhole people to the term "Christmas" are not very smart in the way that they market.

Let me ask you dear Christian: Would you shop at a place where Kwanzaa was the only thing celebrated there or would you boycott it? Don't answer that question.

What I would say that instead of getting crazy about people saying Happy Holidays, why not simply say, "Happy Holidays" back? I have to say that you are not doing any good, and actually pretty shameful by making "Merry CHRISTmas" very pronounced when you snap back.

Start thinking before you snap back and ask how you can use these two terms, Merry X-Mas and Happy Holidays for the cause of Christ instead of making yourself sound very odd. By the way, if you do snap back and hear someone laughing loudly, turn around because it's me and I might just spray paint your "CHRIST-mas" sweater red for fun to make a point.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Blogging, Openness and Accountability

My last post was a little too personal from what I found out from some other regular readers of my blog. One of the things with blogging is that one that writes really puts themselves out there for anyone to read and write a comment. Most people make fun of bloggers that we are "anonymous" and "hide behind our keyboards." While I agree with that to some point, I have done everything personally to allow anyone to find out anything that they would like to know about me so that I am in no way an impersonal or anonymous writer.

This is what makes my blogging experience a little different than some other bloggers who refuse to allow people to know who they are. They will say that they remain anonymous and that one should still listen to their arguments because what they say is more important than who they are. I would have to disagree with that as a whole.

When I write a blog, my good friend and associate pastor and his wife both get emailed each blog post to read if they desire. My pastor checks in on my blog from time to time and a lot of people from my church also check into my blog to see what I am writing about and also to learn more on the wide variety of subjects that I write on.

Because of this, I have to be careful what I write and how I write because I have some accountability with what I write and the tone that I use while responding to people. It has been funny in the past when I blast an "anonymous" comment to find out later that it was someone from my church. They laugh at it and it has been no big deal, but it also makes me think twice before calling someone a whackjob in need of a straight jacket. Although this might be true for some in my church, I still need to be careful in telling them that truth. :)

Without this accountability I could run my mouth and treat people however I decided without a care because no one could call me out on it if I decided to be less than truthful or a little too harsh.

Quite the opposite I have found many friends who read my articles in many place across the globe and will call me out if I sound a little too harsh or haughty in my actions. This, frankly, is what I need.

I want to stop and thank the three commenters who wrote to tell me that my last post was a little too close to home and one that I need to deal with away from the blogosphere. These three are people who are not from my church, but are those who read my blog on a regular basis and said that my post was more of an emotional rant from an angry person than a gentle reproof or discussion topic. After reading my post again and again...I agreed.

I will be trying to deal with the subject matter that I posted on personally, apart from the blogosphere and ask for your prayers on this subject. But, I wanted to thank you guys/gal for putting your statements bluntly as you know that is how I work and exactly what I needed.

I work a little different than most others. If I am wrong, I will admit it. If I am right...I will let you know. I don't beat around the bush and I don't expect my friends too either. Some have had to get used to this, others have just known me for so long that they are the same as I am.

In the end, I am glad that I am kept accountable on my blog from more than just my friends. I am glad that I kept accountable from my church and also from my other readers who are able to "get to know me" in other ways because they know my identity and I am not just some anonymous writer getting away with anything that I please. If you stay anonymous, you can write whatever you like and rarely will close friends admonish you to say something differently or more humbly. On the other side, the more people know you, the more likely they are to know that you are open and honest about criticism and aren't afraid of being admonished by others.

I hope that I will continue blogging, but I am just not sure at this point if I will continue. I put on my facebook status that I might hang it up, but many of my friends called me a quitter and told me to get over it...which made me laugh, so I probably won't quit.

As far as my readership goes, I am glad to have people come on here and tell me that I am crazy, or that I need to take posts down, etc. It does help me be more careful and humble in the topics and the way that I write.

I hope that you have a blessed weekend and I pray that I will continue to find a good medium in writing, exhortation, honesty and admonition.

Praise God that he is more patient than me.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Death By Love

I have read much of what Driscoll has written and also listened to many of his sermons, including the ones that are associated with this book. But, it seems as though Driscoll shows thoroughly his love for his people in this book entitled, Death By Love: Letters from the Cross. Many people have had issues with Driscoll's past books, either with his choice of terms, descriptions of theological dialogues, and even some ways that he has "counseled" people in the past. But, it will be very difficult for pastors and congregants to have much to quibble about in this book.

In Death by Love, Driscoll lays out the theological implications of the cross in letter form. What he has done is chosen different counseling situations that he has encountered in the past and then writes a "formal" letter to that person so that they can see what Christ has done for them to get through the situation that they find themselves in.

What one will find is that this is classic Driscoll. He is kind when he is needed to be kind and he is very straight forward when that is needed as well. This is why many have enjoyed Driscoll throughout the years is because he doesn't pussy foot around tough issues but hits them head on. There is no difference in this book. This book deals with real people, in real situations, with very real problems. Driscoll handles this very well without demeaning the person or the glory of Christ. I would tell each and every person, pastor or layman that deals in counseling to pick up this book to see how a true man of God counsels in the most difficult situations imaginable. To give you a glimpse of what I mean, here are the chapter headings:

I. Demons are Tormenting Me: Jesus is Katie's Christus Victor

II. Lust is My God: Jesus is Thomas' Redemption

III. My Wife Slept with My Friend: Jesus is Luke's New Covenant Sacrifice

IV. I am a "Good" Christian: Jesus is David's Gift Righteousness

V. I Molested a Child: Jesus is John's Justification

VI. My Dad Used to Beat Me: Jesus is Bill's Propitiation

VII. He Raped Me: Jesus is Mary's Expiation

VIII. My Daddy is a Pastor: Jesus is Gideon's Unlimited Limited Atonement

IX. I am Going to Hell: Jesus is Hank's Ransom

X. My Wife Has a Brain Tumor: Jesus is Caleb's Christus Exemplar

XI. I Hate My Brother: Jesus is Kurt's Reconciliation

XII. I Want to Know God: Jesus is Susan's Revelation

Driscoll handles each one of these with a Reformed perspective with much grace. One chapter above is especially personal when Driscoll handles "My Daddy is a Pastor." This chapter is written to his one and a half year old son, Gideon. This is a great chapter to read where Driscoll lets the reader into his personal life and what goes on behind closed doors.

After each chapter above Dr. Gerry Breshears handles the common questions to each. He does this succinctly so that the answers are not over burdensome, but get straight to the point with much detail and precision.

Again, I highly recommend this to anyone who is handling counseling situations or has dealt with, or dealing with, any of the situations mentioned in the above chapters. For further information about this book, you can check out the homepage here. Link to Buy

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some Links...

Here are some links for you to enjoy...I hope you enjoy anyways.

Al Mohler is bringing it against Newsweek: Turning the Bible on its Head - Newsweek Goes for Gay Marriage

Ted Kluck is still funny and offers a gift idea for Christmas: Holiday Blowout

Turretinfan and James White continue to distance themselves as shown by Kevin at Puritan Fellowship: Calvin Disagrees with James White on John 3:16

Oh, and if you want to buy me something for Christmas, which I know you all do, you can check out my wishlist from Seth's Wish List

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Apologetics to the Glory of God

This is the first book of John Frame's that I have read and I will have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very well done and covers a lot of ground in a mere 250 pages. Although you can tell that Frame and Schaeffer have a lot in common, the way that they write is thoroughly different. Schaeffer focuses in on showing the historical understanding of thought and then showing the holes and practice of those in the past, while Frame skips all that and goes more general in thought and shows the holes in the thoughts of the atheist, the agnostic and the practical atheist. The former is one who says there is a god but lives like there is none.

I haven't read much of Van Til, but what I have read, I figured that Frame would be a lot like him and give him much praise. While I didn't find the direct opposite in Frame, Frame was very honest when he found Van Til to be lacking and where he found him to be strong. Van Til was known to stay mainly on the defensive and poking holes in the atheist's arguments, but rarely, if ever, went offensive with the atheist. Frame showed both, like Schaeffer did.

Frame's book is technical in parts but also very readable and very enjoyable. He opens up with showing the basics of apologetics and then he goes into showing what the apologist must show while writing or speaking to others. He, like Schaeffer and many others, points to the metaphysical (the study of being), epistimology (the study of knowledge) and ethics.

After giving this lengthy defense, he then shows the gospel as proof and then gives a lengthy answer to the problem of evil. Through this answer he shows that the previous answers to evil, although sometimes helpful, don't really give the final or most thorough answers in of themselves. What he does show is that they almost all have some of the answer, but not the complete answer to the problem of evil. I do like his honest answer in the end to evil though. He simply says that we can give some explanation to evil, but we really don't know the entirety of the answer of why there is evil.

After this section, the final section is devoted to showing why the gospel is true and he does so in a way that I have yet to see. He biblically walks one through the entirety of the Bible to show the problem of man and sin and the redemption of man through Christ. Through this he also dismantles other religions in a few sentences as though they were a mere sidebar to the discussion.

The final chapter is a mock conversation to guide the reader. Admittedly, Frame says this conversation is a bit simplistic and "perfect" in responses from both the defender of the gospel and the opposer. What I found to be helpful in this discussion is that it really served as a conclusion and recap to the entirety of the book.

I truly enjoyed this book and will be one that I continually go to, to aid in my discussions with others that oppose the faith. I will be now picking up some more Frame books to add to my collection and will put him in the top scholars of our era in regards to presuppositional apologetics. I highy recommend this book to any who are looking to answer the tough questions posed by the atheist or seekers of our Saviour. Link to Buy

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"Jesus" Isn't Enough

One of the things that you have to learn early on in apologetics and evangelism is that you need to have people define their terms. You will notice this most notably with Mormons and even moreso with those who merely label themselves as Christians. I have shown some of this in previous posts which you can read by clicking here.

People love to be included with everyone, especially politicians. Most people that I know believe that because President Bush said he was a Christian and used the name of Jesus, then he must be one. What I find interesting is that now that he has no votes or people to care about, we find out what he means by the term Jesus, salvation and the inerrancy of Scripture. What we actually find is that he actually sounds a lot like McCain and Obama. We must continually ask people to define their terms so that we can understand more fully if they need to be evangelized, exhorted or admonished. This should be our first goal when speaking to people that we don't know, or want to know more about. Defining terms helps immensely. What we found with President Bush is he loved to throw around the term Jesus, but now in the below article find that he really knows very little about him or the written word of God. From my perspective and this is completely arbitrary and just a guess...he used those terms to get votes. And it worked! Who knew that Jesus was that popular?

Jesus is more than a term, He is God incarnate, the eternal One, Whose word stands forever. Not one jot or tittle will be abolished, but fulfilled by the Holy Saviour of the world. Below, in this article you will see that, not only does Bush deny creation, but he denies that Christ is the only way, that God is completely sovereign and that the Bible is literally true. How much are we to allow someone to err before we call them an unbeliever? I wonder if anything will come of this or if the conservative pundit will stand by their man so that mud will not be on their face.

Take a look below at the article and tell me your thoughts.

Bush Says Creation 'Not Incompatible' With Evolution
President says in televised interview the Bible is "probably not" literally true and that a belief God created the world is compatible with the theory of evolution.

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush said his belief that God created the world is not incompatible with the scientific theory of evolution.

In an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Monday, the president also said he probably is not a literalist when reading the Bible although an individual can learn a great deal from it, including the New Testament teaching that God sent his only son.

Asked about creation and evolution, Bush said: "I think you can have both. I think evolution can -- you're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president. But it's, I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution."

He added, "I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life."

Interviewer Cynthia McFadden asked Bush if the Bible was literally true.

"You know. Probably not. ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is 'God sent a son,"' Bush said.

"It is hard for me to justify or prove the mystery of the Almighty in my life," he said. "All I can just tell you is that I got back into religion and I quit drinking shortly thereafter and I asked for help. ... I was a one-step program guy."

The president also said that he prays to the same God as those with different religious beliefs.

"I do believe there is an almighty that is broad and big enough and loving enough that can encompass a lot of people," Bush said.

When asked whether he thought he would have become president had it not been for his faith, Bush said: "I don't know; it's hard to tell. I do know that I would have been -- I'm pretty confident I would have been a pretty selfish person."

Bush said he is often asked whether he thinks he was chosen by God to be president.

"I just, I can't go there," he said. "I'm not that confident in knowing, you know, the Almighty, to be able to say, Yeah, God wanted me of all the other people."

He also said the decision to go to war in Iraq was not connected to his religious believes.
"I did it based upon the need to protect the American people from harm," Bush said.

"You can't look at the decision to go into Iraq apart from, you know, what happened on Sept. 11. It was not a religious decision," he said. "I don't view this as a war of religion. I view this as a war of good, decent people of all faiths against people who murder innocent people to achieve a political objective."

He said he felt like God was with him as he made big decisions, but that the decisions were his.
"George W. Bush has to make these decisions."

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Friday, December 05, 2008

A Grandson's Eulogy

I have wanted to do this ever since seeing my grandfather's temporal body lie in a casket in Main Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS. It was strange to see him lying there with all that make up and such. What also caught me off guard was the emotionless face with no smile on my grandfather. That is when Stacy (my wife) and I understood that the only thing making my grandfather smile was his soul as he thought about the glorious hope in seeing Christ face to face. Why would a face smile without its soul? The scowl found on this temporal body was profound, because I am sure that temporal body was feeling a little left out since my grandfather's new body was allowed into the presence of Christ, while the temporal was left to go into the ground.

This eulogy is what I found to be my grandfather. Nothing more, nothing less. Before allowing you, the reader, to understand more of my grandfather I want to be honest. My grandfather, Theodore Willis Lott, was just like you and me. Nothing special, a mere sinner used by God. But, what I found remarkable is that it seemed that my grandfather truly understood what it meant to know that this is not our home, but that we are pilgrims awaiting our permanent home in the presence of Christ. He understood that all on this earth is God's, whether it be possessions or intangible items like time.

What I remember most about my grandfather was his love of Jesus. I am being serious. I know that a lot of people have some weird thoughts on their relatives after they die, but my grandfather never allowed anything to get between him and Jesus. This past summer he came to visit us, as they tried to do every year, and nothing had changed. He would wake up early to be in the word of God and he showed me his notes that he had written out from the book of Romans as he was trying to memorize the entire book of Romans. My grandfather was 83 years old. If you found him alone he usually had an earpiece on that was constantly playing the Bible being read in his ear and he read and listened to the Bible twice a year, all the way through. He was a man of the word. He always wanted to read more, memorize more and and teach more. More, more, more...all about the word of God.

What is great about my grandfather's witness is that it wasn't only about knowledge. He memorized and read so that he could not only live by the word but also so that he could tell others about the word of God and the power of Jesus Christ. He wasn't only a man of orthodoxy, but a devout man of orthopraxy. At the age of 17, he bought 40 acres of forest land in Mississippi and told God that every penny that came of that land would go back to God. He would end up allowing people to use the trees and resources of that land for years, and every penny went back to God. 2 months ago, my aunt urged my grandfather to sell the land so he could see the fruit of his labors before he went home to see the Lord. So, after holding the land for 67 years, he sold the land and gave all the money to the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. I am not sure how much it ended up being, and don't want to, but it was substantial. All because a 17 year old was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he wanted God's glory to be shown in the actions of a mere youth.

Time went on and my grandfather became a man for the glory of God. He planted and pastored many churches over the years in South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Washington and Florida. Anything for Jesus. While church planting and pastoring were important to my grandfather, world missions was his true calling and desire. He and my grandmother ended up making over 40 trips across the globe, including Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, Kenya, Tanzania, Paraguay, Venezuela, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, Ukraine, Korea and most important to his heart, India. Oh how my grandfather loved the people of India. He would go to the same places each year and aid the pastors and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He especially despised the caste system in India and went to those who were considered the untouchables, and he touched them with the message that God loved them so much that he gave his only begotten Son, that if they would only believe in Him that they would not perish, but have everlasting life. He gave them the message that, although their country doesn't love them, that they were made in the image of the Eternal God, and He loved them. I used to get bored with his slide shows of India, being I was selfish, but the love in the face of my grandfather and grandmother for those in India was unquestionable. The organization finally had to force my grandfather to stay home because of his health. You could tell that this was very difficult for him as it seemed as this was his heart and mission while here: to preach the gospel to the Indians. I believe his last trip happened in his late 70's. I don't like sleeping in an uncomfortable bed, and yet my grandfather wanted to risk his own life to preach the gospel. I can learn from him.

Above I stated that his temporal body had a scorned look. My grandfather always seemed to have a smile on his face. All of us cousins were discussing that we never saw my grandfather angry. My uncle (married to my grandfather's daughter) said that he has known him for 40 years and never saw him angry. My grandfather emanated love and happiness for the sake of Christ. He was truly the most patient and loving man I have ever met. My favorite story about my grandfather showing his goofiness was when my dad walked into my grandfather's house finding him running up and down his stairs popping M & M's in his mouth. My dad said, "Daddy (everyone called him daddy), don't you think you are defeating the purpose of running up and down the stairs by eating M & M's?" My grandfather responded, "It's better than sitting down and eating them!" Just a funny, down to earth man. I can see his expression and laughter as he said this to my father.

He always wanted to know how we were doing. He always wanted to spend time with us. I asked my five year old son why he loved his great-grandfather so much. My son answered, "Because he always liked to play with me." What my son didn't know is that the reason for this is because my grandfather loved him so much that he wanted my son to see Jesus through him and through his prayers. This passed August, at the age of 83, my grandfather was in much pain, yet spent hours and hours playing with my 5 year old and my 2 year old. Totally immersed in their interests and desires.

There are many things in the ministry that I am leaving out, but these are the the things that I remember of my grandfather. He was a sinner like me. He was finite in knowledge and wisdom. He needed a Saviour in Jesus Christ. All this reminds me and makes me ask, "Why don't I love Jesus like my grandfather?" If he is just like me, and I am just like him, what keeps me from loving and desiring Jesus like my grandfather? What keeps me from loving the lost like my grandfather? What keeps me from loving my family like my grandfather? What keeps me from living for the glory of God like my grandfather?

The only thing that I desired to keep to remember my grandfather was one of his Bibles. I asked my grandmother on the the last night I was in her house if I could have one. She presented me with one of his favorite Bibles that was a gift to him in 1976. It was of course by his bedside table, with many notes and the leather torn from use, and probably worn from the many travels all over the world for the sake of the gospel. I found in it the notes from his last sermon that he gave at the age of 83 less than two months ago. The title? Change. At the age of 83 my grandfather desired to see people change for the sake of Jesus Christ. He was never satisfied with his work here on this earth and always looked to see how he could change himself and others for the glory of God. My uncle spoke to some of the nurses at the hospital that my grandfather was at. All of them said the same thing: Mr. Lott was a very nice man and he constantly asked us if we knew Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

This is how I will remember my grandfather. He was a man of change. 83 was just a number to him and he seemed to always have the glow and excitement of a new believer in Jesus. I will miss him. But his fruit will be growing until the return of our Lord. I love my grandfather very much and miss him deeply. But, he is now worshiping our Christ face to face and that is where my grandfather should be: at the feet of his Saviour.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8

In Memory of My Grandfather: The Best Servant of Christ I have ever known
Known as Pastor, Grandpa, Papaw, Daddy, and to my Grandma: Honey (or, if she was mad at him while playing cards: Ted! or Oh Theodore! as he chuckled)
Born: December 24th, 1924
Died: Monday, November 24th, 2008
Survived By his wife of 60 years: Vivian Lott
7 Children: Paul, Gale, Beth, Deborah and their spouses (he would never leave spouses outside of his children)
19 Grandchildren (including spouses)
18 Great Grandchildren

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

I am now back from Mississippi where I attended my grandfather's funeral. I will be giving a sort of "tribute" or "eulogy" on my blog probably tomorrow. I should be back in the swing of things next week.

Until then. Does anyone know of the Advent Conspiracy? Looks pretty interesting and I was told by a family member that their church is part of it this year. Anyways...just wanted to give something to everyone and also see if anyone can enlighten me on their experiences with this project.

Hope you are all doing well.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving for Atheists, etc.?

Thanksgiving is coming up this Thursday where we all go against Proverbs 23:20 where it states, "Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat"
Okay, hopefully not the first part of the verse, but most likely with the second half. Good job. What most don't realize is that if the gorge their face with food it is just as bad as getting drunk, but that post is coming up in my last of the 10 Steps to Become a Legalist. As a Christian, we have much to be thankful for. If you are a Christian you even know that Thanksgiving isn't the only time that we are thankful, but we are thankful daily to the One who has supplied all our needs. What I wonder is what happens at an Atheist's, and others, table on Thanksgiving evening.

When I think of Thanksgiving it is a special day to direct my thoughts and prayers towards the Giver of all good things. This isn't the only time, but a special time. It is like Valentine's Day. If I only love my wife once a year, we have some issues. But, I celebrate Valentine's Day with my wife as it is a special time of year to display my love towards her.

But, this had me thinking...what about the Atheists, Deists and Open Theists?

The Atheist's Thanksgiving?

So, what happens around the table and on this day? Do they sit around and thank themselves? Do they thank the big bang, chance and time for everything that has been given to them? If they are true atheists, in the form of Darwinism, they should thank the goo for not making them like the black people who are less evolved (according to Darwin).

I would love to sit around with an atheist on Thanksgiving and watch him praise himself for all the good things that he has done for all those around him. Because as we get to the bottom of it, on what basis does he judge what is good and what is bad? They have no moral compass based on their strict belief that man is just a machine. So, I wonder if they live out their beliefs and not only thank themselves for all the "good" that they have created, but I wonder if they thank themselves for all the "bad" that they have done as well? Because what is good to them might be evil to another. And according to their belief system this fits fine, until someone comes and murders their child. Then what? Was that action evil or good? Maybe to the person murdering their child, it was good. So, how does Thanksgiving look like then? It would be quite interesting to see how they give thanks and watch their heads spin if they have multiple cultures represented at their table as we watch them argue over what should be given thanks for and what should be abhorred. Maybe a little comical too.

The Deists Thanksgiving?

This would also be very interesting to watch on Thursday evening as they gathered together. Like most of our forefathers, the Deist does believe in a god who created the universe, but they see him more like someone who created the watch, wound it up and let it go. After that, this god, just watches the universe go wild but never interjects. So, no miracles and really no divine providence in any way besides the start of the "wound up watch" we know as the universe. Most notably, Thomas Jefferson, as he has his own bible where he cut all the miracles out of the Bible, including the resurrection of Christ, to fit his heresy.

So, what do they do on Thanksgiving? In the end they can't pray, because God won't do anything or listen to their prayers, because he is an absent god without a real care about the universe that he created. They have to, in the end, thank themselves, as the atheist does, because the only providence found is in the creation account (which is a miracle in itself) but all the rest of decision making and providence comes from the man, not the God who created them.

The Open Theist Thanksgiving?

When the Open Theist wakes up on Thanksgiving day, he must be just as surprised as God is that he didn't die in his sleep. So, both the the Open Theist, and their god, give out a big "woo hoo" for making it through the night. But who does the Open Theist thank on Thanksgiving? He can't thank God because he had no control of what was going to happen. As far as God knew, the person wasn't going to make it to this year's Thanksgiving and has no control if the turkey bone is going to choke him when he accidentally swallows it.

How can you thank a god that doesn't even control the next minute, much less, this past year? The Open Theist Thanksgiving must be a very confusing one for him and their god. They both kind of scratch their heads, look at the years past events, and just thank chance that they ever made it through.

In the end, the Open Theist, again, has to thank himself for freely making every correct choice to make it to this year. He has to thank himself for forgetting where his keys were, so that he left that morning 10 minutes later, only to find out that if he left on time, he would have been involved in the head on collision at the near by intersection. He has to thank himself for making the correct free choice of choosing to leave his bank job for another because his god was caught off guard on the financial crises as much as he was.

As we look to this Thanksgiving, even if we hate most of the surrounding aspects of it, we have to direct our attention to the Most Holy God who is sovereign over all things. This is the only way that your Thanksgiving can be truly directed off or yourself and on to the Creator and that is if you believe that he truly is the only Providential Sovereign God.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
James 1:17

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Escape from Reason

Francis Schaeffer admits that this small book overlaps much of his book titled The God Who is There. What Schaeffer does in this small treatise is give a glimpse on the impact that Thomas Aquinas had on the thinking about nature and grace. Meaning that before Aquinas much of what was thought about God and the heavenlies were never pictured in any way besides mere symbols. For instance, before Aquinas, Mary and Jesus were never portrayed as real bodies with a physical element, but were only allowed to be pictured using symbols. As well as this, nature held no interest to the artist and were never pictured at all in art in any way. This came from the fact that before Aquinas, to simply climb a mountain for the sake of climbing a mountain had never been done.

Out of this nature started to have more meaning for people, which if taken from a biblical perspective can be good in so far we speak of stewardship, but what we find is that from this time on, nature took on more of a role than Aquinas would have thought.

In the Escape from Reason Schaeffer shows how from the start of Aquinas and the Renaissance nature started to depart from the Scriptural understanding of its place among men. So, art, poetry, theatre, etc. took from this and lead us down the road of being completely autonomous from God, where nature ended up "eating up grace" so that it was completely free from the God who created it and us.

Schaeffer goes to show the history of this thought and then gives the better understanding through the Reformation and the Scriptures. Namely, that the only way that man can be the most free is within the "constraints" of the knowledge given by the personal, communicable triune God of the Christian bible.

Even though much of this was overlapped from The God Who is There, this book was still very worth the read and gives greater understanding of how, from Aquinas on, nature and autonomy took a dangerous turn from the freedom found in God, and turned instead to an autonomy apart from Him. Highly Recommended. Link to Buy

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The Personal God Gives Us Meaning

I have been reading a lot of Schaeffer these past 3 weeks and am about to finish up my third book by him in that time. I can now see why so many have pointed me to him in the past. He was truly before his time, yet spoke truth to those in his time as well. I want to give another quote of Schaeffer in regards to why the personal God of the Christian gives us meaning, unlike the impersonal god of the deist, or impersonal science in regards to the atheist or secular humanist. This quote comes off the heals of him showing the dilemma of a personal human coming out of an impersonal naturalistic science. Enjoy and have a great weekend.

So now let us think what it means to begin with that which is personal. This is the very opposite of beginning with the impersonal. That which is personal began everything else. In this case man, being personal, does have meaning. This is not abstract. Many of the people who come to L'Abri would not become Christian if we did not discuss in this area. Many would have turned away, saying, "You don't even know the questions." These things are not abstract, but have to do with communicating the Christian gospel in the midst of the twentieth century.

At times I get tired of being asked why I don't just preach the "simple gospel." You have to preach the simple gospel so that it is simple to the person to whom you are talking, or it is no longer simple. The dilemma of modern man is simple: he does not know why man has any meaning. He is lost. Man remains a zero. This is the damnation of our generation, the heart of modern man's problem. But if we begin with a personal and this is the origin of all else, then the personal does have meaning, and man and his aspirations are not meaningless. Man's aspirations to the reality of personality are in line with what was originally there and what has always intrinsically been.

It is the Christian who has the answer at this point - a titanic answer! So why have we as Christians gone on saying the great truths in ways that nobody understands? Why do we keep talking to ourselves, if men are lost and we love them? Man's damnation today is that he can find no meaning for man, but if we begin with the personal beginning we have an absolutely opposite situation. We have the reality of the fact that personality does have meaning because it is not alienated from what has always been , and what is, and what always will be. This is our answer, and with this we have a solution not only to the problem of existence of bare being and its complexity - but also for man's being different, with a personality which distinguishes him from non-man.

We may use an illustration of two valleys. Often in the Swiss Alps there is a valley filled with water and an adjacent valley without water. Surprisingly enough, sometimes the mountains spring leaks, and suddenly the second valley begins to fill up with water. As long as the level of water in the second valley does not rise higher than the level of the water in the first valley, everyone concludes that there is a real possibility that the second lake came from the first. However, if the water in the second valley goes thirty feet higher than the water in the first valley, nobody gives that answer. If we begin with a personal beginning to all things, then we can understand that man's aspiration for personality has a possible answer.

If we begin will less than personality, we must finally reduce personality to the impersonal. The modern scientific world does this in its reductionism, in which the word personality is only the impersonal plus complexity. In the naturalistic scientific world, whether in sociology, psychology or in the natural sciences, a man is reduced to the impersonal plus complexity.

Francis Schaeffer, He is There and He is Not Silent

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Recap of My Allegation Against James White

There have been 4 posts and 83 comments on my allegation against James White and the thoughts on God's desire of the salvation of all men. I honestly did not know that this would cause such a "stir" when I wrote my first post and didn't expect James White to respond to it directly on his radio show. What I want to do is do a recap of what has gone on so far and show that I still don't have an answer on what James White believes on God's desire. I also want to show that I tried to answer what James White said was my "responsibility" to do. I will say that Turretinfan has been more responsive, although elusive at times. I just received an email from Turretinfan about the use of "desire" but will not post or comment on it unless I get his permission first. My post here is going to be with regards to James White, since he decided to "throw down" on his radio show. :)

I want to demonstrate that I went ahead and answered James White's questions and wondered what his thoughts were on the questions that he directly questioned me on.

So, I just want to make some remarks based on his show and then ask for further guidance on his thoughts on the subject. If you want to hear the show, you can find it here. (the conversation in regards to Contend Earnestly starts around the 34 minute mark and last for about 7 minutes).

James White starts his listeners off by saying that my site is "interestingly titled, Contend Earnestly", as if it was mis-titled by me questioning a theologian about his theological convictions. That is odd. He then reads the post and gets a little perturbed when he reads, "I don't think any of us are saying that James White doesn't go out and evangelize or defend the faith. That isn't what the question is here." He states, while laughing, "It isn't the question of what I do, but it is just a matter of what I..." Again, James white acts as though the question on someone's theological conviction can't be challenged because of what we see them do. Take that same logic to the extreme and we have to ask why we would question a Mormon who lives a good life and helps the poor, etc. I think he knew that he faulted in that response and why he abandoned it and went on.

James White then states that he has written numerous books, numerous articles and debated not dozens of times, but multiple dozens of times on this topic. Later he comments that I have never read any of his books, which I am not sure where he pulled that from, because I have read many of his books. Now, I will admit that while reading them, I was not focused on trying to understand his understanding of the desire of God. So, I would have to ask, "Can you, James White, please point me to those writings so I can go re-read or re-listen to them?" By the way, the original claim was based, not on his written material, but on an answer that he gave on his own broadcast. I don't know if he changed his mind on the desire of God from the time of his writings, but I would assume that what he states in his answer would be his current belief. So, that is what I went off of.

He then says that I am bearing false witness. Wow. I would like to know how I beared false witness when I linked to his response and said that the disbelief in the desire of God for the salvation of the reprobate is a tenant of hyper-Calvinism. If this could be explained, that would be much appreciated.

James White then goes on to explain that he is an elder in Reformed Baptist church and that I need to show where he would differ from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, not only should I do this, but I was under "obligation to do so." So...I did...through someone I am sure he respects in Samuel Waldron. I not only did it through Waldron, but showed the differences he has with John Piper, John Murray, R.L. Dabney and Charles Spurgeon.

Dr. White then goes on to say that he doesn't respect someone who will not debate with him on these subjects. I have to say, debating is not the only tool within this and I can't answer for those who won't dialogue with him on this matter. But, with all that aside, I am not sure why he wouldn't respect a brother in Christ. That seems like a bit of an overstatement, but that is just my personal thought on the matter.

After this, James White decides to show that since he proclaimed the gospel and called for repentance then that means he is not a hyper Calvinist. This is what we would call "duty faith" and the "common call" of the gospel. Although most historical hypers didn't believe in duty faith or the common call, this does not mean that if you do these two things that one is cleared completely from the rest of the tenants of hyperism. I, again, know from watching Dr. White, listening to Dr. White, reading Dr. White, that he does these things. My question was on his denial of the desire of God for the reprobate. So, he is dealing with an issue that I didn't question him on. Very confusing.

He then describes my position of "desire" of God by using an Arminian explanation, not a Reformed one. He equates my question, by saying that if God desires the salvation of the reprobate that I must think that God is "eternally disappointed" because he decided he wanted to do something he didn't do. This is not the Reformed position on this, nor was it ever my question posed to him. He is drawing up a straw man, to try and make my claim sound ridiculous. The problem with this, is that I have many Reformed men who believe just as I do on the desire of God in regards to the Reprobate. And none of them believe that God would be "eternally disappointed" that an Arminian would hold to.

James White then says he gets upset that I took a potshot at him and that I hide behind the anonymity of the keyboard. What is pretty funny about this claim is that you can find out whatever you want about me. You could call my church and let my pastor know if I have offended you. You can know my convictions pretty easily as I use my real name in all my comments and all my posts. But the very one that brought this original post to James White, Turretinfan, is completely anonymous. James White says that he has very little respect for the approach of hiding behind the anonymity of the keyboard. I think what he meant to say is that he doesn't respect those who don't agree with him, because I believe he greatly respects Turretinfan even though Turretinfan is completely anonymous to anyone on the internet. That is very interesting to say the least.

I am not interested in debating with James White. I am not even interested in trying to "tear apart his ministry" in any way. I just want to know his understanding of the desire of God for the reprobate. I have demonstrated over and over through these posts and links that it is a Reformed position, both with the moderate and high Calvinist, to believe that there is a desire in God for the reprobates salvation. James White could very easily clear everything up by just saying,

"I am not sure about how it works, it is a mystery, but there is some way within God that he desires the salvation of the reprobate."

He has put forth some things that he believes I needed to do to substantiate my claims, and so I did. I would hope that if he is going to call me out on his radio show that he would have enough in him, to respond to what he stated that I was under responsibility to show. I guess we will wait and see. I am guessing that he just hopes that I go away.

There have been many jabs at some of my friends (Tony Byrne and David Ponter) through this discussion in regards to us "pulling statements out of context" but I have yet to see one actually demonstrated. It seems as though these few people like to claim these things, yet do not show these claims to have any merit. By way of understanding, unless you want us to post the entire book in a post, we are always going to have to pull partial quotes. That's kind of the point of pulling out quotes from books or longer theses.

Again, we will see if James White will give some sort of REFORMED (again not Arminian) response to the desire of God for the resprobate. I like what Tony posted:

It is blasphemous to think that God would be guilty of equivocation and deception, that He would say one thing and mean another, that He would earnestly plead with the sinner to repent and believe unto salvation, and at the same time not desire it in any sense of the word.

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), p. 462.

So, the question still stands, "Does James White believe in the desire of God for the salvation of the reprobate in the reformed understanding?"

We shall hopefully get a response.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Learning from the Michael Vick Situation

I was listening to Seattle's sports station the other day when the news hit the wires that Vick is expecting to return to football when he gets out of jail this Summer. It was interesting to hear the responses from callers and also the local radio show host, who always seems to know little of the subjects that he comments on. As I was hearing the conversations take place on live air, it made me chuckle and also just shake my head at the world view many of these people have. In case you haven't heard and have been in a cave looking for unicorns, you can read why Vick went to jail here.

As I was listening it made me think of how a Christian should respond in these situations and what our reactions should be, not only to this, but to anyone who sins against us in such a public way.

The first is biblical forgiveness. Many callers on the show kept saying that the NFL should restate him because everyone deserves a "second chance." This is an overstatement in so many ways. The NFL is a corporation, and like any corporation, image to the customers is key. Now, we might argue that there might be a double standard here (which I will discuss below) but still, the corporation gets to decide what is deemed as an unforgivable image offense and what is deemed as an offense worth a "second chance."

Biblical forgiveness is a forgiveness that forgets the sin, but not the sinner. We learn that when God forgives us that he wipes it from our slate and that it is as far as the east is from the west. But, we are also told to not make a brother stumble. So, to simply say, "forgive and forget" and leave it at that is not that simple. Let me give you an extreme so you get my gist of this. If I were to find out that someone was beating my child when they were baby sitting them, I could forgive them but that doesn't mean that I simply allow them to babysit my child again. That is called stupidity. The same process should be used with anyone that sins against us. We should be careful that we don't cross the line of biblical forgiveness with "turning a blind eye" to their sinful tendencies. If we allow someone to be put back into a situation that would tempt them to fall back into their sin, we should be held accountable. We need to be careful as Christians as does the NFL with Michael Vick and his restatement. If they do restate him, I would put some clauses in his contract on ways to try and keep him out of past sins and tendencies. That to me, would be the Christian way to handle this.

Second, is the fact that all our sin is atrocious. The radio host made a comment that other players that get caught doing drugs and have an alcohol problem should not be seen in the same light, because they have a disease, not a moral problem with their actions. Wow, what a statement. What I have noticed with this Michael Vick situation is that what he has done to dogs is seen as more important than a player beating his wife, or a player endangering the lives of other humans by driving under the influence. If we really want to get to the bottom of this, those acts done against image bearers are much more atrocious than those done against dogs. Both are sins though and both are ones that should be taken seriously. What I noticed is that the radio host and the callers continued to make Michael Vick their standard and would say, this player or that player is okay because they didn't do what Michael Vick did. Or, they would point out that they themselves were okay, because they didn't do what Michael Vick did. Michael Vick became their standard of holiness.

We as Christians love to do the same thing. We set others as our standard, when they aren't our standard but, in actuality, are a mirror of our sin. I was riding the bus the other day when a transvestite came aboard and I started to think, "I have to start to see my sin on the inside as disgusting as this transvestites sin that they are showing on the outside." Until I see my sin, the way I see the transvestites sin, I will always hold myself out to be more holy than I actually am.

We must stop comparing ourselves to others, and must compare ourselves to the only holy God. When we are commanded to follow the law perfectly, told to be perfect as He is perfect, be holy as our heavenly Father is perfect, we should understand that HE is our standard and holiness is our calling. When we see ourselves in those eyes, we will stop being so confounded at others and their sin and we will see that they are only reminding us of the ugliness of sin that is in our own lives! The good thing is that God is not the NFL or the finite, sinful callers that called into the radio show. God is a God that sent His Son because He knows what we don't get. Namely, we are Michael Vick. We need to be reconciled to God and the difference is that God gives us this through His Son, not our "improved actions" or payment of our penalty with jail time.

For the record, I hope that Vick gets reinstated so that the conversation continues on sin and comparison between him and the others in the NFL continue to be looked at.

In the end though, I will not hold the NFL responsible if they decide to not reinstate Vick, because it is their company, and they get the final vote on their image and their employees.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Some Resources for the Readers

Here are some helpful resources for the readers:

Mark Driscoll's book on pornography can be downloaded for free: Porn Again Christian

Adrian Warnock reveals what we all suspected with Chalke: Chalke Denies Penal Substitution

Tony Byrne does a radio interview with Unchained Radio: Arminianism, Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism

If you would like to join my facebook blog network you can do that here: Contend Earnestly Blog Network

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The God Who Is There

This is the first book of Schaeffer's that I have read, and I must say, I am pretty excited to continue to learn from this godly evangelist. In The God Who Is There, Schaeffer weaves in and out of so many philosophical systems and history that it is quite impossible to list it all in a book review. Schaeffer is definitely a classic presuppositional apologist. Meaning that he tries to get the listener or reader to get to the very reason they believe in the certain system that they believe in. He then points out their holes in their arguments and shows how Christianity is the better and most reasonable option there is in philosophical thought. Most of this argument comes from Romans 1:18 where it states,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

If they suppress the truth, that means that the truth is definitely inside them, as they are made in the image of God, their Creator.

In The God Who Is There, Schaeffer shows how the modern man has woven himself through philosophy, art, music, theatre, movies, etc. After showing how this has been done throughout history, Schaeffer shows that the "leap of faith" does not happen in Christianity, but actually in humanism, or modern atheism. Schaeffer explains it this way:

Of course, faith is needed to become a Christian, but there are two concepts concerning faith. The two ideas of faith run like this: One idea of faith would be a blind leap in the dark. A blind leap in which you believe something with no reason (or no adequate reason), you just believe it. This is what I mean by a blind leap of faith. The other idea of faith, which has no relationship with this, none whatsoever, is that you are asked to believe something and bow before that something on the basis of good and adequate reasons. There is no relationship between those two concepts of faith. The biblical concept of faith is very much the second and not the first. You are not asked to believe in a blind leap of faith. The Bible teaches that there are good and sufficient reasons to know that these things are true. If you examine the ministry of Paul and also of Christ, you find they endlessly answered questions. There was no concept here of "Keep quiet, just believe"; it just does not exist. Paul answered the questions of the non-Jews, he was always answering questions; and the book of Romans certainly answered the questions of those without the Bible as well as of those with it. There are good and sufficient reasons to know that these things are true. We have already with the fact of reality and everybody having to deal with reality; (1) the existence of the universe and its form; (2) the dinstinctiveness of man; (3) you can relate these to a third thing, and that is the examination of the historicity of Scripture Francis Schaeffer

This is what the book aims to answer. Not only does Schaeffer answer these through the understanding of the triune God of historic Christianity, but he shows how humanism, or atheism, cannot fully answer these questions, therefore, they are the ones taking the "blind leap of faith", not Christianity. There is so much in this book that I did not mention, but Schaeffer had a strong conviction that the Christian cannot live in a castle with a moat, but must be among the culture to help answer the question of those that desire to know the answer to the question, "Why are we here?" He resonates much of what I desire to do within the ministries that God has given me and the convictions of my heart.

I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend anyone desiring to take up the challenge to read Schaeffer as well. I do not think that this is the only answer to the understanding of the existence of God, but believe it helps move us all in the right direction. Highly Recommended. Link to Buy

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