Paradise Now

I do not want to reveal too much about this movie in case some of you would like to see it. So, in short, this story is about two friends who are part of an Palestinian extremist group who have been chosen to take part in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. In their minds, the only way to stop the oppression of their people, is through violent measures. Yet, when things go awry both men are forced to reflect upon their decisions.

All of much should be reflecting upon terrAfter September 11, the U.S. was tragically awakened to the reality of terrorism...a reality that much of the world has lived with for so long. And since 9/11 terrorism has not let our television sets, newspapers, magazines, or dinner-time discussions. No matter if the discussion is about the United States so-called "war on terror" or some other international conflict, we cannot ignore the situation. Therefore, how should we, as Christians, respond to the present discussions and happenings? There are so many questions that we could address right now: Is the current war in Iraq just? Is there ever an occasion in which war or violence is permissible? Should Christians be supporting the nation of Israel?

Although we could delve into these specific issues, today I would like to put forth a few verses from God's Word that I think can help us deal with a more foundational question: "how should we "fight" against violence/war/oppression?" For Said, Khaled, and their extremist group, retaliation (through violence) was the only answer. Yet, for Christians, retaliation cannot be our answer.

"You have heard that it is said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:38-42)

I also think that Ephesians 6:10-20 is essential for us to consider. We must remember who the real enemy is: spiritual forces of evil. These forces will not be defeated with guns and bombs. Rather, they have already been defeated and disarmed at the Cross. So, let us battle him (and violence/oppression/war with the whole armor of God. Let us hold forth the Word of God and bring the "gospel of peace" to a world that is in desperate need.

A Quote for the Infant Baptism Discussion...

"Our interpretive starting point will determine how we understand the Bible. Most people do not consistently apply any interpretive principle, yet we should all stive for interpretive consistency. The Reformed or covenantal principle of interpretation holds that we must read the Bible as one book that progressively reveals God's one redemptive purpose. We need to assume continuity and unity in God's revelation. Unless God himself has explicitly changed some aspect of his redemptive dealings with his people, we should continue to follow what he has already revealed. Because the children of believers were always included in the covenant of grace in the Old Testament, and God nowhere rescinds his command to include them in the covenant of grace, we must assume taht they are still to be included under the new covenant and are to receive the covenant sign of baptism" (italics not in the original) --Robert R. Booth, Children of the Promise, 156.

Although Booth writes a whole chapter on this issue ("The Pivotal Point: How Should We Interpret the Bible?"), I thought that this quote was a good summation of his discussion in that chapter. I would love to hear your comments, especially regarding the sentence that I italicized. If you disagree, what interpretive principle do you suggest we use...the dispensational one? Let you thoughts be known.


The Discerning Reader

Tim Challies has a great new website that features reviews of Christian books, New York Times Bestsellers, and DVD's. So, be sure to check out the site: Discerning Reader.

The Liberty of God: Sovereignty

I came across a post at Doug Wilson's blog that I thought some of you might enjoy reading. Here's an excerpt:

There is certainly no biblical problem with preaching the doctrine of God's sovereignty. At the same time, there are other situations where it is wise to present the facts of the case as dispassionately as we are able to. God's saints must see this issue as it really is -- the clear, objective teaching of the Word of God, and not the result of theological speculations. This is no carnal add-on. "Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar" (Prov. 30:6).
That said, let us talk about the sovereignty as the liberty of God. Enough about whether man has free will. Does God have free will? In the book of Proverbs, how free is God?

Read the whole blog entry here.

As for Me and My House...

"Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity an in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15)(ESV).

We live in a society that places all of emphasis on the "individual." So, it is very easy for us to read through scripture and fall to notice the emphasis that is often places on entire households. Reread the passage above and pay attention to the references that are made to fathers and households. (Especially take note of the fact that Joshua spoke not only for himself, but also for his house). What implications does this make for our families today?

While reading tonight, I came across a quote that I think relates very well to this discussion:

"In the sight of God parents and children are one. The former are the authorized representatives of the latter; they act for them; they contract obligations in their name. In all cases, therefore, where parents can enter into covenant with God, they bring their children with them....It is vain to say that children cannot make contracts or take an oath. Their parents can act for them; and not only bring them under obligation, but secure for them the benefits of the covenants into which they vicariously enter. If a man joined the commonwealth of Israel he secured for his children the benefits of the theocracy, unless they willingly renounced them. And so when a believer adopts the covenant of grace, he brings his children within that covenant, in the sense that God promises to give them, in his own good time, all the benefits of redemption, provided they do not willingly renounce their baptismal engagements." --Charles Hodge, as quoted in Children of the Promise, p. 130.

So, what are your thoughts? The comment section is ready and waiting for you!

A Late Night...Again.

*For some reason, I can't sleep tonight. So, I figured that I'd take advantage of my insomnia by reading and typing on my blog. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't seem to function at peak performance in the "wee hours of the morning" (or "wee hours of the night" if you prefer). So, please forgive me for any incorrect grammar, mispellings or any dumb comments that are present in this blog entry or those that may follow. Thank you for your patience. You are too kind (whoever "you" are).

*Well, in case you haven't noticed, I have attempted to update my blog by adding new sections to the sideboard. So, if you would like to know about the books I'm reading, the music I'm listening to or the movies I'm watching, just check out the links in the sideboard. If you don't care, then just ignore this entire paragraph. Yes, you can even ignore the sentence that you are currently reading...if that's really possible.

*In other random news, Amy and I just watch "Pride and Prejudice." (It's based on Jane Austen's book) It is definitely a chick-flick, but I loved it. (Yet, I still like the 6-hour mini-series better. I'd imagine that my friend Erynn would agree with me. We plan on watching a foreign film called Paradise Now sometime soon. It's about two childhood friends who are recruited for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. I'll probably post about the movie after I watch it. ( Random Facts: I enjoy watching foreign and independent films. The last two foreign films I watched were Turtles Can Fly and Nobody Knows. )


Four Lovely Days...

Well, I am finished with my work week (as of 6:00 a.m). So, that means I have four days to enjoy with Amy, Alora and others. Surprisingly, I really love working 12-hour shifts...and I've adjusted well to 3rd shift.

Since I'm going to church this morning, I decided to try and stay awake until it's time to go. So far I'm feeling fine but we'll see how I'm doing at 12:30 today. I've been occupying my time so far by washing dishes and typing on this blog. Eventually I'm going to have to take a shower because I smell like grease and I have paint all over my arms.

Unfortunately, Amy is still sick. So, Alora and I are going to have to go to church without her. If you would, please pray for her because her morning sickness, allergies and virus have made her feel pretty horrible lately. (In case you have heard, Amy is pregnant! Yeah!)


Fond Memories, Great Foundation

When I was a young boy, I loved to spend the night with my grandparents. While I was there we would often eat popcorn, drink Tang and watch someone on channel 16 sing southern-gospel music. Then, before I went to bed, my Grandmother would take time to read from the Bible and pray with me. Her faithful witness and commitment to sharing God's Word with me are memories that will never fade from my mind. (Although, I must admit, that her love for southern-gospel definitely didn't pass on to me.)

Although Alora is just over a year old and our other child is only about 3 months in the making (yes, Amy's pregnant again!), Amy and I are already thinking and praying about ways that we can teach our children about our faithful, covenant-keeping God. Since Amy and I were not raised within a Reformed tradition, we were never exposed to catechisms, but we want our children to be exposed to them. In a recent post on the benefits of catechisms, Tim Challies wrote about how he has been blessed by the years of catechetical instruction that he received when he was young. I would love to hear any testimonies from those of you who recieved good, solid training when you were young. Specifically, what did your parents/grandparents/etc. do that impacted you?


Sufjan: Lost and Found!

So, Sufjan Stevens was missing. Well, he actually wasn't missing; rather, my Sufjan Steven's "Illinois" album was missing. I discovered that it was missing yesterday, and I franticly searched for it all day. Okay, the search wasn't really frantic and I didn't look for it all day. Seriously though, I probably looked for the cd for almost an hour. (Is that obsessive?) Okay, I'll admit that I probably wasted a little too much time, but I was really in the mood to listen to that cd. (I could just hear Sufjan inviting me to "Come on feel the Illinoise".)The worst part of the search happened when I found the case, but alas, there was no Sufjan inside. But today, the tides changed because Amy found the cd in a random computer case. Go figure. Sufjan was lost and now is found. Finally, I can once again place Sufjan were he was meant to be: in my three-disk changer. Hurray!


The Influence of Reading: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

This is the third entry in a series about books that have been influential in my life. The first two entries are available here and here.

In the preface to Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, John Piper writes:

Jesus will not be domesticated. But people still try. There seems to be something about this man for everybody. So we pick and choose in a way that hows he is on our side. All over the world, having Jesus on your side is a good things. But not the original, undomesticated, unadjusted Jesus. Just the revised Jesus who fits our religion or political platform or lifestyle (11-12).

Instead of trying to "customize Jesus" into a more palatable person, Piper writes about the real Jesus: "Stated most simply, the common path for sure knowledge of the real Jesus is this: Jesus, as he is revealed in the Bible, has a glory--an excellence, a spiritual beauty--that can be seen as self-evidently true" (13).

Although God had awakened by soul to the joy of salvation in Jesus Christ, this book helped to add fuel to the fire. If you would like to read this book, and you don't have any money, then you can read it for free online!

Good Friday and Beyond: Resurrection!

***"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

***"Paul, in line with a major theme throughout the Bible, understood sin and death as bound together in a tight nexus. If Jesus had defeated sin, death could not hold him. If (conversely) he rose again from the dead, it meant he had indeed dealt with sin on the cross--in other words, that God had achieved at last what he had promised to Abraham and the prophets...As far as Paul was concerned, the most important eschatological event, through which the living God had unveiled (or if you like, 'apocalypsed') his plan to save the whole cosmos, had occurred when Jesus rose from the dead. --N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said

***"Jesus' resurrection demonstrated his victory over death (Acts 2:24; 1 Cor. 15:54-57), vindicated him as righteous (John 16:10), and indicated his divine identity (Rom. 1:4). It led on to his ascension and enthronement (Acts 1:9-11; 2:34; Phil. 2:9-11; cf. Isa. 53:10-12) and his present heavenly reign. It guarantees the believer's present forgiveness and justification (Romans 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:17) and is the basis for the resurrection life in Christ for the believer here and now (John 11:25-26; Rom. 6; Eph. 1:18-2:10; Col. 2:9-15; 3:1-4). --J.I. Packer, Concise Theology


Good Friday and Beyond: The Word of the Cross

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" -1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV).

In his book, The Cross and Christian Ministry, D.A. Carson writes the following regarding the cross:
"What would you think if a woman came to work wearing earrings stamped with an image of the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima? What would you think of a church building adorned with a fresco of the massed graves of Auschwitz? Both visions are grotesque. They are not only intrisically abhorrant, but are shocking because of the powerful cultural associations. The same sort of shocked horror was associated with the cross and crucifixion in the first century...Yet, today crosses adorn our buildings and letterheads, grace our biships, shine from lapels, and dangle from our ears--and no one is scandalized. It is this cultural distance from first century that makes is so hard for us to feel the compelling irony of 1
Corinthians 1:18."

Although the message of the cross is foolishness, it is the message that we must proclaim. We can trust God's wisdom because He has, in the words of N.T. Wright: "reversed the world's values. He has done the impossible. He has turned shame to glory and glory to shame. His is the folly that outsmarts the wise, the weakness that overpowers the strong."

The cross (and Jesus) may seem to be foolishness to those who are pershishing in sin, but it is the power of God to those of us who are being saved. Pray that the Lord will give you opportunity to proclaim the gospel to others this week. Pray that the cross, Jesus and the resurrection will no longer appear as foolishness to them. Pray that they will be given eyes to see the wisdom of God.


Good Friday and Beyond: God's Purposes

In his book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, John Piper writes the following:
The central issue of Jesus' death is not the cause, but the purpose--the
meaning. Human beings may have their reasons for wanting Jesus out of the way.
But only God can design it for the good of the world.
Although sinful man is always trying to thwart God's plan, he will never be able to derail God's soveriegn will. In Acts 4:27,28 Luke writes,
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan predestined to take place.
With the torture, death and crucifixion of Christ, Pilate sought to silence and appease the Jews. In His death, many of the Jews wanted to silence a man whom they considered to be a blasphemer--one who not only claimed to speak for God, but who also claimed to be God. For many of the Gentiles, the death of Christ meant that one more madman was off the streets. Yet, the only purpose that suceeded was God's purpose. As we read in Isaiah 53:10, "Yet, it was the will of the Lord to crush him." And by crushing His own Son--laying His holy wrath upon Him-He redeemed us.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13).

Good Friday and Beyond: Introduction

Although the birth of Christ (Christmas) is of infinite importance, His resurrection is the climactic event in God's redemptive work. So, as we prepare to celebrate Easter this Sunday, I will to post some thought prevoking blog entries related to Christ's death and resurrection. I pray that each of our hearts will be ignited with a passion and a zeal for the crucified and resurrected Savior!


To Virginia and Back Again

Since I had a week off before starting a new shift at work, we loaded up the Explorer and went to Virginia last Friday. We had a wonderful and relaxing time with Amy's family. The worst part of the trip was the drive home. Although the return trip should have taken about 9 hours, it took a little longer...12 hours. A few things contributed to the delay:

*We had to drive to Williamsburg to get Alora's stroller because we forgot to get it out of the van before Vivian drove to work.
*Our stubborn dog took way too long to use the bathroom each time we stopped. (Actually, Addy didn't use the bathroom until we arrived back at our house.)
*Alora vomited on herself while we were driving. So, of course we stopped. (Also, I am sure you can imagine the wonderful smell that stayed with us for the remainder of our trip!)


The Influence of Reading: Willing to Believe

Well, I have finally found the time to discuss the first book in this series of posts. In case you missed the introduction to this series, it is available

When discussing the controversy regarding free will, most modern-day Christians have failed to listen to the words of George Santayana who once wrote, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Instead of learning from those who have gone before us, many Christians have ignored the discussions, debates and controveries that have taken place throughout Church History.

In the Preface to his book, Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will, R.C. Sproul writes the following:
This present volume focuses on the issue of sola gratia, the underlying foundation of the issues that provoked the Reformation. It is an overview of the historical developments that grew out of the original controversy between Pelagius and Augustine. The stress is on the graciousness of grace and the monergistic work of God in effecting the believer's liberation from the moral
bondage of sin. It explores the relationship between original sin and human free will.
For me, this book helped to put the controversy into perspective. I realized that the debates about free will, election, etc. were nothing new; rather, the debates have been taking place throughout church history. This book is a wonderful demonstration of how men like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and others have stood firm for the truths of God's Word. Read this book and see if you are truly willing to believe what God has taught us in His Word about the condition of humanity, regeneration and faith, and free will and election.

"But to all who did recieve him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" -John 1:12, 13 (ESV).

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved" -Ephesians 2:4,5 (ESV).

Thoughts About Blogging

As I began to think about blogging (and my blog in particular) I became keenly aware that my blog is only a small speck upon the map known as the world-wide-web. This blog is one among hundreds of thousands (maybe millions). So, why should I (or anyone else) continue to blog? Here are three reasons why I will continue to blog:

1. To Glorify God. The Westminister Catechism asks: What is the chief end of man? And answers by stating: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Since our purpose in life is to bring God glory and enjoy Him, then we should seek to do everything so that He would be honored, worshipped, adored and glorified. If we can eat and drink to God's glory (1 Cor. 10:31), surely be can blog to His glory!

2. To Stimulate Healthy Discussion. Although there is a time and place for blogging that is humorous and playful, I hope that the majority of things I write will help faciliate and encourage conversations that are uplifting to the Body of Christ.

3. To Communicate with Family and Friends. So many of the people I love are far away from me. Cecil is in China. Amy's parents, brothers and sisters are in Virginia and Hawaii. And the list could stretch on forever. So, since I cannot be in two places at one time, blogging allows me to communicate with those that I do not have the pleasure of seeing or talking to on a regular basis.

So, why do you blog? I would love to hear about what motivates you to keep up with the task of blogging.