12.30.2008

President Bush's Reading List

Well, it seems that President Bush enjoys reading as much as I do (HT: Challies). Though President Bush and I certainly didn't read the same type of books, one book did make it on both of our reading lists: the Bible. Check out this interesting article for more on Bush's reading competition with Karl Rove. I wonder what Obama read this year?

An Unusual Record

I played soccer for a number of years and had the misfortune of getting a red card before, but never quite like this.

12.29.2008

A Partial List of 2008 Readings

Well, in a few days we will come to the end of 2008. During the year I've had the opportunity to read a number of interesting books. (Of course, I also read a number of articles and commentaries, but I didn't list those below.) Of the books that I read, I really enjoyed reading a number of them. Of the books I read dealing with the New Testament, my favorites were Contextualization in the New Testament by Dean Flemming and The Canon of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger. In the category of history/historical theology, my favorites were The Lost Soul of American Protestantism by D.G. Hart and Christianity's Dangerous Idea by Alister McGrath. In the category of theology, I enjoyed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce A. Ware. In the category of general reading, I liked Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris. Well, here's a longer list of some of the books I read during 2008:

29.Oxford Bible Atlas by Adrian Curtis
28.
An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond E. Brown
27.
Old Testament Survery by LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush
26.
Introduction to the Reformed Tradition by John H. Leith
25.
Contextualization in the New Testament by Dean Flemming
24.
The World That Shaped the New Testament by Calvin Roetzel
23.
The Making of the New Testament by Arthur G. Patzia
22.
Symphonic Theology by Vern S. Poythress
21.
Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson
20.
Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris
19.
Orthodoxy and Heresy by Joel R. Parkinson
18.
The Canon of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger
17.
Fusion by Nelson Searcy
16.
Barth for Armchair Theologians by John R. Franke
15.
New Testament Greek for Beginners by J. Gresham Machen
14.
Christianity's Dangerous Idea by Alister McGrath
13.
The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century by Roland Bainton
12.
Calvin and the Calvinist by Paul Helm
11.
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll
10.
Natural Theology by Emil Brunner and Karl Barth
9.
Westminster Confession of Faith
8.
Called to Ministry by Edmund P. Clowney
7.
The Religious Life of Theological Students by B.B. Warfield
6.
The Lost Soul of American Protestantism by D.G. Hart
5.
Pierced by the Word by John Piper
4.
A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne
3.
Counseling Children and Adolescents by Ann Vernon
2.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce A. Ware
1.
The Crucifixion of Ministry by Andrew Purves

2008 NFC South Title

After last weeks overtime loss to the New York Giants, I was hoping that the Panthers would dominate and win big over the New Orleans Saints. Well, they did dominate during most of the game bu the game was too close for comfort. Although they entered into the fourth quarter with a big lead, the Panthers fell behind the Saints during the fourth quarter. Fortunately, John Kasey's 42-yeard field goal gave the Panthers a 33-31 win over the Saints. With their win over the New Orleans Saints yesterday, the Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South Division Title. This is the second time that the Panthers have won the NFC South (2003). I'm looking forward to the playoffs. Go Panthers!

12.28.2008

Music and Memory

Music is an extremely powerful medium and it can be a great aid when trying to memorize things. I can still remember the words to songs that I haven't heard in years. I'm sure that repetition has an important role in the process, but what is it about music that causes people to retain what they hear?

If you're like me I imagine that you first began learning your ABC's by singing. I am always amazed at how fast my girls can learn things that we sing together. Recently, I began singing the Greek alphabet with Alora ("Alpha, Beta, Delta..."). We probably sang it together three or four times. A few days later I heard Alora singing through the Greek alphabet on her own. Although she missed a few letters, she remembered most of them.

On a slightly different note, it is interesting how we associate certain songs or tunes with events. For example, everytime I hear the hymn "Majesty" I think about playing the saxophone in the Chiquola Baptist Church orchestra with my old friend Malcolm. (And, yes, I played the saxophone for a number of years.)

Can any of you think of memories or events that you associate with music?

12.27.2008

Staying Awake

Our family decided to leave for Virginia on Christmas night around midnight. Of course, Amy and I were both pretty tired since we had been awake since 6:00 am. Since I was driving, I knew that I'd have to get creative in order to stay awake while driving. So, here's my story about how we made our way to Virginia.

Well, we began our trip with prayer, which is certainly the best way to begin any activity. Next, I put food and drink into the equation. I knew that caffeine was going to be an essential ingredient, so I started things off with a can of Pepsi. Along with the Pepsi I ate some left-over country ham. About thirty minutes later the saltiness of the ham had to be overcome by another drink: a peppermint double chocolate Starbucks frappacino! I followed this with Chex snack mix and candy. Well, once all of these foods and drinks hit my stomach, I realized that I had made a perfect receipe for a stomach ache.

By 2:30 in the morning I knew that I wasn't going to make it without some sleep, so I pulled over at a rest area and slept until 3:30. After my nap, I had enough energy to finish the trip. We finally arrived at 10am.

Next time, I've decided to lay off all the junk food.

12.25.2008

"Merry Christmade"

No matter how many times we've told Alora that the holiday on December 25th is called "Christmas", she still calls it "Christmade" Well, I think that "Christmade" is a perfectly fine name since Christ is the one who makes our celebration possible. So, from the Ashley family we wish you all a merry Christmade. May the good news of Jesus Christ--his birth, death, resurrection and second coming--be on your hearts and minds.

Reflection and Anticipation

For most of us, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a season of hustle and bustle. Our calendars usually filled up with scheduled family visits, parties, special church services, and a host of other seasonal happenings. (Since it is Christmas Day today, you're probably enjoying some of those event now!) Yet, in the midst of all of these activities it is easy for us to get so wrapped up in our calendar appointments that we forget to place sustained focus on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. This is not to say that there should not be time for family and friends during this season; rather, it is simply a recognition that we can easily become so overwhelmed with our “obligations” that we miss a great opportunity to meditate on one of the most important events in human history: the first coming of God’s Son. Yet, this problem is not unique to our particular stage in world history; Christians have always faced the temptation to focus more on the here-and-now than on the One who transcends all time. In order to combat these temptations and to help focus on the gospel, Christians throughout the history of the Church have chosen to order their time around different seasons, beginning with Advent and ending with Easter and Pentecost. Advent (which means “coming” or “arrival”) marks the beginning of the Christian Year in which we celebrate the first coming of Jesus and look forward to His second coming. As we focus on these two “comings” of Jesus, we are encouraged to participate in both reflection and anticipation.

First, Advent is marked by reflection as we look back upon the progress of redemption. We are encouraged to remember the promise of a righteous “seed” that was given in the garden of Eden after Adam sinned (Genesis 3:15). We remember the covenant made with Abraham in which he was given a promise of an innumerable offspring. We look back to the exodus of God’s people from slavery out of Egypt. We remember Israel’s desire for a King who would reign with righteousness and strength to deliver and sustain His people. We read the prophecies of Isaiah, foretelling the Messiah who would bring peace and justice. And at last, we are able to reflect upon the Messiah—Jesus—who came and dwelt among us. As we reflect upon and celebrate his incarnation, we get to share in the rejoicing of those that saw Him arrive. We share in the joy of the world, the glory of the angels’ message, and the wonder of the shepherds as they heard the good news.

Second, Advent reminds us that our faith is founded on not only what Jesus did in the past, but also what He will do in the future. As Christians, we should forward to Christ’s second coming when we will see our King coming in glory and power. We will finally be able to see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13) and our salvation will be complete! Yet, His second coming will also bring judgment on the world that has rejected Him. So our celebration is mixed with sobriety. Those of us who bear the name of “Christian” should not only praise God
for our salvation, but we must also be His witnesses and pray for a world that has yet to embrace Him.

12.23.2008

Getting Ready for O.T.T.

Although I'm out of school for a couple of weeks, that doesn't mean that I've been able to totally take a break. During the upcoming January term I will be taking Old Testament Theology, so I'm trying to get ahead on my reading. I'm almost finished with Gerhard Hasel's Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate. After finishing this book I'll also have to read three others:

Old Testament Theology by Bruce Waltke

Salvation Belongs to Our God by Christopher J.H. Wright

The God of Promise and the Life of Faith by Scott J. Hafemann

12.17.2008

"I don't want to be normal."

When I'm with my family, I spend most of my time laughing at the funny things that my girls say and do. Here's a brief conversation that took place during lunch today:

Alora: My eyes are blue. Do you think that they'll change to normal?

Amy: What do you mean?

Alora: I don't want to be normal. I like my blue eyes.

Amy: We like your blue eyes too. I think that your eyes will always be blue.

Alora: Good.

So, everyone with blue eyes please take note: you're abnormal.

12.15.2008

Wiping the Dust Off of a Great Resource

While I've had this book on my shelf for a while, I'm just now beginning to read it with any amount of frequency. And I must say that I've really been missing out on this rich resource. If you'd like to better understand the rich images, symbols, motifs, metaphors, figures of speech and literary patterns of the Bible, then order a copy of the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery.

12.13.2008

Preaching This Sunday

I'm really looking forward to preaching tomorrow morning on Luke 2:8-20. I'll post the audio early next week.

12.09.2008

Writings and Exams

Well, this is my last week of seminary for this semester. Thankfully, I will be able to have a couple of weeks off from school before I have to begin my Old Testament Theology class in January. I still have two exams and an exegetical paper on Mark 1:14-20 to complete. Of the different assignments that I've had over this semester, I especially enjoyed writing a biblical-theological reflection on Genesis 6:9-22. After the semester is over, I'll probably take some time to post various insights that I've gained during this semester.

11.25.2008

Is Christianity Good for the World?

Yesterday, I linked to one of the debates between Hitchens and Wilson, but I forgot to put a link to a book that they wrote together: Is Christianity Good for the World?

11.24.2008

Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson Debate

Recently, Westminster Theological Seminary held a debate between atheist Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything) and pastor Douglas Wilson (God Is: How Christianity Explains Everything) . You can view the debate here.

11.11.2008

Roughing it up

Tonight, before Bible study began at our house, all the youth guys decided to tackle me since I was holding a ball. Of course, this turned into an all-out battle in which I was not going to let go of the ball. In the midst of this struggle, Alora began screaming, "Don't you hurt my dad!" After Amy assured her that I was okay, she seemed to settle down.

It's certainly been a while since I've been able to "rough it up" with a bunch of guys, so I had forgotten how much fun it could be. When my girls want to play with me, it usually involves dolls, hair, stuff animals and other girly games. Of course, I love doing those type of activities with my girls, but it was a nice change of pace to lay the smack down on some youth guys!

1978 Chevrolet Pickup

Earlier in the week my grandfather sold his 1978 Chevrolet Pickup for $2300. He's owned the truck for 30 years and it only has 100,000 miles on it. I've never owned car that has less than 100,000 miles! Currently, our van is around 155,000, while my car is about to hit 180,000! When he bought the truck in 1978 he paid $6000. I'd say that he got his money's worth.

10.20.2008

Reformed Basics


If you'd like to get a basic idea of what it means to be a Reformed Christian, this may be a great place to start. You can purchase all the volumes together ($17.55) or individually(appox. $2 - $3).

10.13.2008

ESV Study Bible


If anyone is looking for a great study Bible, may I suggest the new ESV Study Bible? While at the Desiring God conference, they gave each of us samples ( of the gospel of Luke), and it really is a great resource. Not only do you get a wonderful translation (the ESV is my favorite), but you also get top-notch conservative scholarship in the study notes. Be sure to order it here, because they have the best book prices and shipping rates.

Thanks to the Secret Readers

This weekend Amy and I had an opportunity to eat dinner with friends from NC. During our conversation, Scott mentioned that he read my blog on a regular basis. I never knew that Scott read my blog...this makes Scott (and others like him) part of my "secret readers" group. (This probably accounts for most of the people who actually read my blog...all 10 of you.) These are people that read here often, yet never make any comments. So, for all of you secret readers out there, thanks for stopping by! Lately, I'm sure that you've noticed my lack of blogging. Thanks for sticking around anyway. Hopefully I'll write something worthwhile every once and a while.

9.14.2008

Impossible

I know I'm a little behind with blogging and notifications but....last Sunday I preached at Redeemer Church. The sermon is part of our Genesis series, Sovereign. You can check out the sermon here. The text is Genesis 18:1-15 and the sermon is entitled "Impossible."

I also preached today, but the audio isn't available yet. I'll put up a link when it's available.

9.04.2008

Back to Class

My seminary classes began yesterday (Old Testament I and New Testament I) and continue today (Greek III). I'm also taking a directed study (Contextual Theology) for missions credit. It has been a blessing to catch up with my classmates that I haven't been in contact with since the Spring semester. As far as classes go, I had a great time yesterday, and I'm looking forward to Greek tonight. This month is a busy one (new baby, school begins, preaching on two Sundays, traveling during two weekend, etc.) but I'm relying on God's grace in order to sustain me.

9.02.2008

My First Bible

While Amy and I were cleaning out our garage today, I came across my first Bible. It's a small, black, King James Version Bible that has my name engraved on the cover. My parents gave me the Bible on Christmas Day 1987. The cover has broken away from the pages but it's still in pretty good condition considering that it's over 20 years old.

As I think back over my childhood, I am so thankful that my parents loved God and desired for me to have a passion for Him and His Word. By God's grace, that passion took root in my heart at a very early age, and I am amazed that I am His child.

8.29.2008

Together For Adoption

In November, Together for Adoption will be hosting a conference: Our Adoption in Christ: What it Means for Us and for Orphans (HT: Greenbaggins). I've had the opportunity to hear the director of T4A, Dan Cruver, speak on two occasions--once at a Caedmon's Call/Derek Webb concert and once at the Calvary Presbytery meeting. During both events, I was encouraged by the way Dan spoke about adoption. When it comes to adoption, Dan encouraged us to first think of vertical adoption (i.e., God adopting us in Christ) and then to turn to horizontal adoption (i.e., couples adopting children). Regarding the conference Dan writes:
We believe that you will walk away from this conference better understanding why it is that vertical adoption is the highest blessing of the gospel, rejoicing afresh in God’s grace to you in the gospel, and joyfully motivated to act on James 1:27, both locally and globally.
The conference will take place on November 1, 2008 in Greenville, SC at Southside Fellowship. You can find out more information here.

If the topic of adoption interest you, be sure to check out Joel Beeke's book Heir's with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption. You can read the table of contents, forward, and chapter one here.

8.27.2008

Bottle Testing Methods


In addition to a proper diaper changing method, parents should also be aware of the proper bottle testing method. Personally, the smell of warm milk grosses me out, so the tongue-in-the-bottle method was never an option for me.

8.25.2008

A Family Picture











The new and improved Ashley family!

8.23.2008

One Another

Christianity is certainly not an individualistic religion. It is true that each person must individually give an account before God (2 Corinthians 5:10). We cannot rely on the faith of our parents, spouse, or anyone else. Personal faith and repentance is required. Yet, by affirming that we must each individually give an account before God, it does not mean that we can take a “just me and God” approach to Christianity. We need one another. In his article "Why Should I Join a Church?" Jim Elliff writes:
In a culture where self-reliance, self-worth, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment are considered to be the most desirable personal characteristics, membership in a local church, where mutual submission, accountability, and inter-dependence are the way of life, seems foreign and even counter-productive.
Although participation in church life may seem foreign to us, we have been called to live with and for one another, all to the glory of God. (Jim's article clearly makes this point.) Consider some of the following responsibilities that we have toward one another:

1. Love one another – Romans 12:10
2. Honor one another – Romans 12:10
3. Live in harmony with one another – Romans 12:16
4. Instruct one another – Romans 15:14
5. Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
6. Comfort one another – 2 Corinthians 13:11
7. Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
8. Be kind to one another – Ephesians 4:32
9. Forgive one another – Ephesians 4:32
10. Address one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs – Ephesians 5:19
11. Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21
12. Be truthful to one another – Colossians 3:9
13. Teach and Admonish one another – Colossians 3:16
14. Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
15. Build up one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
16. Do good to one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:15
17. Exhort one another – Hebrews 3:13
18. Consider how to stir up one another – Hebrews 10:24
19. Confess sins to one another – James 5:16
20. Pray for one another – James 5:16
21. Show hospitality to one another – 1 Peter 4:9
22. Be humble toward one another – 1 Peter 5:5

Many more references could be added to these; nevertheless, the testimony of God's Word is clear: we need one another. In light of this truth, a number of important questions should come to our minds: Are we trying to live out our relationship with the Lord with or apart from His Body, the Church? Are we using our gifts for the sake of the Body (1 Corinthians 12:5)? Do we need to repent for neglecting life within the Church?

May the Lord move our hearts to love both Him and the Church with a deep fervor.

8.19.2008

Take a Guess

The next book in the "Westminster Classic of the Month" is now available until September 15th. This is a great opportunity for you to buy the book that Carl Trueman said is "without doubt the single most important book ever written by a Westminster professor." Are you curious which book he's talking about? Go here to find out...and while you're there why don't you go ahead and purchase it for only $6.50!

8.13.2008

The New Normal

Over the last weeks our home has been filled with family and friends. Amy's sister Ashley visited for a weekend. Her youngest sister Tiffany stayed with us for about a month. Jerry, Vivian, and Jeremy visited us right after Ann-Marie's birth. And Theresa has been with us for the last two weeks. (Of course my parents have visited too, but since they live 30 minutes away they can visit more often.) We have been blessed by the assistance and presence of family. They have certainly helped more than we can express. (And I haven't even mentioned all of the friends who have provide meals, diapers, prayer, gift certificates, and much more. Thank you!) After we take Theresa to the airport tomorrow, Amy and I will begin living "the new normal."

So what is the "new normal" for us? We'll a number of things will remain the same. I'm still ministering at Redeemer and working toward an M.Div. at Erskine. Yet, with the addition of Ann-Marie a new dimension has been added. We are now a family of five, with the girls in a permanent majority! (A four-to-one ratio to be exact.) Although we have been parents for over three years, as a new child enters into the mix (and the others grow older) the dynamics of family life shift. While there will certainly be challenges, the first word that comes to my mind is "blessing." My wife and daughters are a blessing in my life. I couldn't imagine life without them. In my opinion, the "new normal" is a beautiful thing indeed!

7.28.2008

Welcome Ann-Marie Joy Ashley!

Just wanted to let everyone know that Ann-Marie Joy Ashley was born on Saturday, July 26 at 5:14pm. She weighed 6lbs. 12oz. and was 19 1/2 inches long. She has LOTS of brown hair. She's beautiful! And such a blessing! Both her and Amy are doing great. We came home today.

That's all I have time to say right now but I'll give another update (with pictures!) within the next few days.

7.25.2008

Thai Spice: Breaking the Curse?

At the corner of Fant St. and Greenville St. there is a little restaurant called Thai Spice. For those who have lived in the Anderson area for a while, you'll probably remember that this building has been the home of numerous restaurants such as Church's Chicken, Pita House, and Phoenix Grill. (I can't recall if any others have come and gone.) When I first noticed that a new restaurant was coming I thought to myself, "That building is cursed. No business ever survives there." Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical when I first saw the sign for Thai Spice. I assumed that it would meet the same sad fate as all the previous restaurants.

A few months ago Amy and I made our first trip to Thai Spice. Although we had heard a number of people talk about how great the food was, we didn't venture to Thai Spice until we were given a $50 gift certificate. Honestly, I was a bit surprised when I walked inside. What had once been a fast food type of setting had now been transformed into something much nicer. New tile, fresh paint, and lovely paintings helped to change the atmosphere. Yet, we were not only impressed by the improved surroundings but also by the food and service. The spring rolls, Pad Thai, and the sauteed broccoli and chicken were all very delicious. The vegetables were fresh and the meats were tender. For drink, Amy had sweet tea and I enjoyed the Thai tea. This drink is a blend of a special tea and cream. It's very sweet and unusual. The tea reminded me of yerba mate.

Since our first night at Thai Spice, Amy and I have enjoyed eating there on numerous occasions. If you haven't been to Thai Spice, I'd encourage you to go for lunch or dinner. I don't think you'll be disappointed. If you don't know what to order I recommend the following: Spring rolls or Crab Ragoon for appetizer; Beef Salad or Pad Thai for the main course; and Thai tea if you don't mind trying something a little different. (They also have a few unique imported beers, plum wine, and the usual drink fare.)

I believe Thai Spice has been around for about a year and it seems to be fairing well in the "cursed building." Maybe Thai Spice has finally broken the curse.

7.23.2008

Westminster Shorter Catechism 1

Calvinism and Evangelism

In any discussion that touches on the issue of Calvinism , one will certainly encounter a number of misunderstandings. One such misunderstanding is the belief that Calvinism undercuts evangelism. In the minds of some, a belief in total depravity (total inability), unconditional election, limited atonement (particular redemption), irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints is incompatible with calling sinners to repentance. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, a proper understanding of the doctrines of grace puts evangelism in a proper focus and should build-up ones zeal for evangelism.

On this past Lord's Day Patrick Miller,Pastor at Redeemer Church (PCA), delivered a sermon that clearly reveals that there is no conflict between Calvinism and evangelism. Please carve out an hour of your day to listen to this sermon. I believe you will be both challenged and encouraged from God's Word. (And please don't be mistaken...the point of the sermon was not to debate over the points of Calvinism...I don't even think he mentions Calvinism!) Rather, Patrick reminds us that we will all come before the Great White Throne of Judgment. And in that Day, let what was said of Abraham also be said of you and I: "And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6, ESV). Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness! Listen to Sovereign: Before the Throne.

Sovereignty and Stitches

In a post from yesterday, Sovereignty and Hope, I wrote that "God often has other purposes and plans for us." By this statement I wanted to emphasize that God has planned for us to encounter various trials and circumstances that we are not anticipating. Ironically enough, God chose to bring some of these unanticipated events into our lives yesterday So, here's the story.

I came home late yesterday afternoon in order to finish preparing for a youth event that was planned for the evening. While I was upstairs I heard Alora start crying. But this wasn't a normal cry; rather, it was the type of cry that lets you know that something is really wrong. Before I could make it down stairs Amy let me know that Alora has hit her head on the side of the bed. After seeing Alora's head it was clear that she was going to need stiches. After making a call to Dr. Dale, we made our way to his office.

Yet, while on our way to the doctor, our van ran out of gas. Amy and I both responded with lots of laughter. Thankfully I was able to coast the van into the parking lot of a gas station. After Amy got into the drivers seat I pushed the van to the gas pump. (Just in case you're wondering why we ran out of gas, the gas indicator is broken. And yes, pushing a van isn't very easy when you have to do it by yourself.)

When we finally made it to Dr. Dale's, everything went pretty smoothly. Thirty minutes and four stiches later we made our way home in just enought time to cook pizza before the youth arrived.

7.22.2008

Sovereignty and Hope

"Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him" (Psalm 115:3, NIV)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:28-31, NIV)

In the near future a number of changes will be taking place in my life: Amy's going to the hospital on Friday to be induced with our third daughter, unless of course the baby comes sooner; I'll have a full-time work load at seminary beginning in Septemeber; and as always, I'll have plenty of ministry work at Redeemer. (And these are just the things that I think may happen. God often has other purposes and plans for us.) Maybe today is like the calm before the storm. Yet, no matter what the Lord brings into my life I can rest in knowing that He is in control. In my life, the knowledge of God's sovereignty has been the greatest comfort for me. This is to say, an affirmation of God's sovereign and providential workings is much more than an abstract theological committment: it is also a constant source of hope. Isn't it wonderful to know that our Triune God works all things for our good according to his purpose, to praise of His name?

7.17.2008

Evangelism and Church Growth, New Testament Style!

We certainly live in an age of information. We can take in and distribute information in so many ways: Internet, television, radio, books, newspapers, etc. I certainly appreciate and utilize all of these communication forms...actually, you and I are enjoying the benefits of the Internet now! There is no doubt that the Church has benefited from these mediums. Yet, we must not forget that the early Church lived in a very different time and place. Big church buildings? Nope. Flashy Internet sites? Not hardly. MP3 sermon audio? No. Big Christian publishing houses? Not even close. In a sermon on Acts 5:12-32, Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas puts it like this:
But there were no buildings. There was no choir. There was nothing to attract them from an external point of view. There was just the blandness of the apostles and other men and women talking about Jesus. That’s all there was. There was no movie, there were no books, there were no pamphlets or tracts; there were no radio stations. As far as we know, there weren’t any great
preachers, although Peter seems now to be turning into a great preacher. It’s all of God, you see. It’s all of God. This is the Lord’s doing. There are no formulas here; there is no methodology of evangelism that you can discern. They’re engaging in witnessing to Jesus, to His life and death and resurrection, and exaltation to the right hand of God. It’s all about Jesus Christ, and they’re talking about Him! And men and women are being drawn to Him!
Although all of our modern communications can be used to the glory of God, we must never forget this truth: As God's people--those called to bear witness in the world--we must remember that our formulas, methods, or mediums are not what will compel the world to turn to our Triune God. Our primary task is to equip our hearts, minds, and lips with the message of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and reign.

(If you'd like to read or listen to all of Dr. Thomas' sermon, Prison Break, go here.)

Heart Walk

Two years ago our daughter Alora Grace had open-heart surgery in order to correct a heart defect that had been present since birth. Thankfully, the Lord used the doctors and nurses in order to bring her through the surgery safely. This September we will be able to celebrate this blessing as we participate in the 2008 Heart Walk in Charleston, SC. As participants in this walk, we are attempting to raise $500 that will be used for heart disease and stroke research. If you're interested in donating, then you can donate here. Even if you are not able to donate, at least take a few moments to visit Alora's heart website.

7.16.2008

Westminster Classic of the Month

Starting this month the Westminster Bookstore will be offering a "Westminster Classic of the Month." Here's the information from an email I received:

Machen, Murray, Stonehouse, Van Til...Bavinck, Vos, Ridderbos—now the library that launched Westminster Theological Seminary can become your own. The books written by Westminster's faculty—and the books they read—helped put Westminster in the forefront of the defense of the orthodox Christian faith.

Over the next several months we offer you a unique opportunity to make those same books a part of your personal library. Each book in the Westminster Classic of the Month series will be offered at a substantial discount for one full month. To inaugurate this series, we present The Infallible Word (below), a symposium by Westminster's founding faculty, at 50% off until August 15.

On His Terms, Not Ours

Have you ever noticed that when Jesus comes into a conversation, hardly anyone wants to say anything negative about Him? When was the last time that you’ve heard someone say something like “Yeah, I hate Jesus.” I do not doubt that there are some people who may feel this way, but in general, most people want to at least talk about Jesus in a positive light. Yet, in order to speak positively about Jesus, people often mold Jesus into an image that is more palatable. Some try to paint a picture in which Jesus emerges as nothing more than a highly-skilled teacher—a good, moral guide. Others describe Him as a wandering poet or a would-be political revolutionary figure. Yet, a very different Jesus is found in the gospel accounts.

In Luke 5:17-26 a story is recounted of a paralyzed man who is brought by his friends to see Jesus. According to Luke, Jesus responds like this:

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven" (v.20, NIV)
Jesus' statement quickly puts the religious leaders on edge. They found Jesus’ words to be scandalous:
"Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v.21, NIV)
The religious leaders realized exactly what Jesus' words implied: By claiming to be able to forgive sins, Jesus thereby claimed to be God! Jesus certainly saw Himself as much more than a great teacher, and He wanted others to see that He was more than a man: He was the God-Man...fully God and fully Man! (What a great and glorious mystery!) Luke tells us that Jesus responds to the religious leaders with a few questions of his own:
"Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?” (vs.22,23, NIV)
Yet, Jesus doesn't just speak bold words to them. He follows His words with a confirming action:
"But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God (vs.24,25, NIV).
As much as people may want to speak nicely about Jesus as a good teacher or some other image, we must each be willing to take Him on His terms, not ours. Maybe if we see Him as He truly is, then we will be able to respond to Him as we should: with awe and wonder.
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today (v.26, NIV)

7.15.2008

Squirt

Our third child (another girl!) is due on 8-8-08, so we shouldn't have too much more time before she arrives. I'll be really surprised if the baby doesn't come before that time, but we'll just have to wait and see. As you can imagine, we are so excited. One of the cool things about this pregnancy has been watching the excitement build for our oldest daughter Alora. She is ready for her sister to come. Alora has also let us know that she wants to call her sister, "Squirt." I wouldn't be surprised if that nickname hangs around. Of course, Amy and I will call her Anne-Marie Joy, but I guess "Squirt" is a good name too.

From Unclean to Clean

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them" (Luke 5:12-14, NIV).

Leviticus 13 gives a detailed account of what the priest had to do in order to determine if a person had infectious skin disease. Once it was determined that a person had such a disease, that person became "unclean" and was then an outcast from the community:
The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!' As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp (v.45,46, NIV).
In his gospel account Luke records Jesus' interaction with a man with leprosy. Upon seeing Jesus, the man cries out for Him to make him clean. In response to the man's plea, Jesus does something quite surprising: "he reached out his hand and touched the man." Luke then tells us that the leprosy immediately left the man.

I believe that it is safe to say that the once-leprous-man was never the same after encountering Jesus. In an instant, this man went from being unclean to being clean, from being an outcast to being a welcomed friend, from living alone to living in community. (I can only imagine how sweet his reunion was with family and friends!). This was truly an amazing encounter that resulted in an incredible transformation.

As I read of Jesus' encounter with this man I cannot help but to think of how Jesus has transformed my life. Though I have never been leprous, I was born unclean. Though I have never felt the touch of Jesus' hand or heard the sound of his voice, I have certainly encountered Him. And for all of us who have met Jesus--by faith--I am sure that we can all testify that our lives have never been the same. At one time we were alienated from the Father but now we have been made sons and daughters. We were once dead in sin, but we are now alive in Christ. Or to use the words of the a hymn writer, "I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see."

7.14.2008

Canon of the New Testament

Since I'm not taking any classes during the summer, I've had a little more time to read books that have been on my reading list. Currently, I'm half-way through reading Bruce M. Metzger's The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. In this book Metzger discusses the historical development of the New Testament documents and the way that they came to be recognized as canonical. According to Metzger the canonization of the New Testament was not a quick process in which church councils arbitrarily picked certain books to be part of the canon; rather, the process was long and gradual. Metzger maintains that external pressures such as persecution and heretical teachings (by men such as Marcion, who rejected the Old Testament and much of the New Testament) pushed the church to recognize which documents were authoritative and which ones were not.

7.13.2008

Jesus, Israel and the Wilderness

While reading Scripture do you ever have moments where you think "why in the world haven't I seen that before?" I had one of those "aha" moments while reading Luke 4. In case you don't remember, in chapter 4 Luke writes about Jesus' forty days of temptation in the wilderness:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry (v.1,2, NIV).
Although I've read this passage of Scripture many times before, I never noticed the connection between Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness and Isreal's 40 years in the desert. (Take note of the particular temptations that Luke records.) Israel certainly struggled to follow the LORD faithfully during their time in the wilderness. Israel continually sinned against the LORD. The author of Hebrews writes:
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief (v.16-19, NIV).
Yet, unlike Israel (and us!), Jesus obeyed the His Father perfectly. He met every temptation with a faith-filled response. Where Israel failed, Jesus prevailed! Let us praise and worship the Father for sending His Son--our perfect high priest:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15,16, NIV).

6.29.2008

A Faded Flag

One day I stopped by my grandfather's home to see how he was doing. He was sitting on his front porch, hiding from the midday sun. I noticed that he had something folded over his lap--it was an old American flag. The flag was badly worn: the red of the flag was pink, the blue was so badly faded that the stars hardly stood out, and the edges were torn to treads. When I saw the flags condition I asked him, "Papa, why don't you just buy a new one?" He responded, "Well, I guess there's no need to buy a new one when I can just fix this one. I've had this one for about a year...they certainly don't make them like they used to." As I watched my grandfather slowly sew the rips I realized that I probably would have just tossed the flag in the trash and picked up a new one. Yet, I think that Papa's response was better. He was taking time and giving the flag another chance. If I ever find myself in a similar situation--working with something that is torn, faded and ready to be discarded--hopefully I'll think about Papa sitting on the porch with his needle and tread. Maybe I won't be so quick to discard the old for the new.

6.24.2008

A Long Pause

I am well aware that there has been an unusually long pause since my last blog entry. Although I've had plenty of blog post ideas, I haven't found the time or motivation to put my thoughts out onto the world-wide web. Nevertheless, I decided to break the silence tonight. I'm certainly not making any promises that I'll begin blogging at full force, but for the two people who still come here every once in a while, I'll try to say something every now and then.

5.21.2008

"Thank you for fingers"

At bedtime tonight, Alora prayed the following words:

"Father, thank you for fingers so that I can pick my nose and wipe them on my shirt."

The Spark Now Flames

The spark now flames brightly,
Lighting our hands--held tightly.
The whisper erupts with calling,
Encouraging those who are falling:

“Awake, O sleeper! Awake!
For the Light is shining, and we are alive.”

5.06.2008

End of the Semester

Well, I'm finishing up my first year of seminary. I have to turn in one more paper and take a couple of exams...then, I'll be finished for a while. Since the summer is going to be so packed (with a new baby, vacation, youth trips, family visits), I'm not taking any classes until the fall semester.

4.22.2008

Still Here

Just in case you're wondering, I'm still here. It's nearing the end of the school semester, so I've been really busy with reading, papers, church and family. I'll post something substantial sometime soon.

4.07.2008

From Him, Through Him and To Him

Over the past week, I've been so encouraged and humbled as I've meditated on these verses from Romans 11. Indeed, we serve a great God!

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" (v.33-36).

4.04.2008

Away with Endnotes, Hurray for Footnotes!

Amen Greenbaggins! Amen! I'm in full agreement with Lane's comments regarding footnotes vs. endnotes. Footnotes are far superior to endnotes. I really do hate having to flip to the end of books. Give me the information where it should be: at the bottom of the page!

4.02.2008

Updating the Updates

Well, here are a few updates regarding all the things that we had going on last week:

Moving: With the help of family and friends, the move on Saturday went great. Although it rained most of the day, we managed to load and unload without any injuries or trouble. I am so thankful that Amy's dad and mom (Jerry and Vivian) were able to come from Virginia in order to help us during the weekend. And I was overwhelmed by the gracious service from our church family and friends. The acts of service that took place are too many to recount here. Thank you all for your prayers and service to our family. As of today we have a most of our rooms organized and unpacked...our bedroom is still filled with boxes though. (NOTE: We will not have a home phone or internet until this weekend, so the only way to contact us will be on our cell phones.)

Ordination: Well, everything went great with the first step toward ordination as I met with the candidates committee on Thursday night. My next step will be to go before the Presbytery on April 24 in order to give my testimony and my call to gospel ministry. Although I know that this process is not easy, I am thankful for the accountability and sharpening that will take place during this time. Please pray for me as I continue to study, learn and prepare for ordination.

Puppies: All the puppies are doing great. The puppies are almost two weeks old now, and they're beginning to open their eyes. They're very cute. Also, Spicy loves our new yard.

3.26.2008

Staying Busy

Here's a number of things going on with our family:

New Home: Well, we're on the move again. Thankfully we're only moving across town. We will be closing on our home on Friday and moving on Saturday. Currently, we have most of our current home boxed up and ready to go. I think Amy and the girls are starting to go crazy because the only things left to play with are...well...boxes. I believe that this is the 8th time that Amy and I have moved as a family so far, but I'm starting to lose count. Pray for us as we move.

Pregnancy: Amy is about 5 months along in her pregancy. She and the baby are doing well. Of course, Amy is often tired while trying to take care of the girls as well as trying to take care of herself and the baby. Please pray that she will be given good rest at night. Also, in case anyone would like to know, the new baby's name will be Ann-Marie Joy. Ann was Amy's Grandmother's name, and Marie is Amy's middle name.

Coming Under Care: Please remember me as I go before the Canidate's Committee tomorrow night. This is one of the early steps in the ordination process. I'll be sharing about my relationship with Jesus and my call to ministry. I've been looking forward to this for a while.

Seminary: I got my grades back from the various tests and papers that were due before Spring break, and I was very pleased. Thanks to all who prayed for me, especially in regard to Greek.

Puppies: All nine puppies are alive and thriving. The girls have really enjoyed having the puppies around the house.

3.23.2008

"He is not here, but has risen."

Luke 24: 1-12 - But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

3.21.2008

Way Too Many

About a year ago Amy and I adopted a dog. The dog belonged to one of our neighbors who didn't want the her anymore...so we took her in. We have a habit of taking in animals. (The last animal we took in, a cat named Petie, died about a two months ago after being attacked by a dog.) Over the last year, we've enjoyed having Spicy around the house. Well, after today, we're going to have a lot more dog enjoyment. Early this morning Spicy gave birth to NINE puppies! Yes, NINE puppies! That's a whole lot of dogs. Granted, we never wanted this many animals, but she got pregnant before we could have her "fixed." So, we're going to have a lot of dogs until they're old enough to be adopted (which is eight weeks). Anyone interested in a new puppy? I'll post pictures soon. They're adorable.

50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die


1 To Absorb the Wrath of God
2 To Please His Heavenly Father
3 To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected
4 To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead
5 To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners
6 To Show His Own Love for U
7 To Cancel the Legal Demands of the Law Against Us
8 To Become a Ransom for Many
9 For the Forgiveness of Our Sins
10 To Provide the Basis for Our Justification
11 To Complete the Obedience That Becomes Our Righteousness
12 To Take Away Our Condemnation
13 To Abolish Circumcision and All Rituals as the Basis of Salvation
14 To Bring Us to Faith and Keep Us Faithful
15 To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect
16 To Give Us a Clear Conscience
17 To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us
18 To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness
19 To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him
20 To Deliver Us from the Present Evil Age
21 To Reconcile Us to God
22 To Bring Us to God
23 So That We Might Belong to Him
24 To Give Us Confident Access to the Holiest Place
25 To Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God
26 To Bring the Old Testament Priesthood to an End and Become the Eternal High Priest
27 To Become a Sympathetic and Helpful Priest
28 To Free Us from the Futility of Our Ancestry
29 To Free Us from the Slavery of Sin
30 That We Might Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness
31 So That We Would Die to the Law and Bear Fruit for God
32 To Enable Us to Live for Christ and Not Ourselves
33 To Make His Cross the Ground of All Our Boasting
34 To Enable Us to Live by Faith in Him
35 To Give Marriage Its Deepest Meaning
36 To Create a People Passionate for Good Works
37 To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love
38 To Create a Band of Crucified Followers
39 To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death
40 So That We Would Be with Him Immediately After Death
41 To Secure Our Resurrection from the Dead
42 To Disarm the Rulers and Authorities
43 To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel
44 To Destroy the Hostility Between Races
45 To Ransom People from Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation
46 To Gather All His Sheep from Around the World
47 To Rescue Us from Final Judgment
48 To Gain His Joy and Ours
49 So That He Would Be Crowned with Glory and Honor
50 To Show That the Worst Evil Is Meant by God for Good

3.19.2008

Greek and Humility

At the end of C.J. Mahaney's book Humility: True Greatness he list a number of ways that we can cultivate humility. I'd like to add another suggestion to his list: study Greek. Let me explain why.

Over the last few days I have been preparing for a test in Greek II. During the first semester I had very little trouble memorizing and understanding the material. Yet, this second semester has been much more taxing. Last night I told my wife that I was stressed out because I felt like my mind was jumbled up with numerous verb, noun, and participle paradigms. I couldn't seem to keep everything straight. In response to my frantic ramblings Amy simply said: "Well, that's a good reminder that you're not God." In other words, Amy wanted to remind me that I am just a man who is limited in comparison to the God of the universe. My knowledge is so small when compared to the One who created the world out of nothing. What a humbling thought! While these thoughts will not necessarily help me translate Greek sentences, it certainly does help me to keep everything into perspective.

3.18.2008

Dead iPod Song

Is this what I have to look forward to with my new iPod? I hope not. (HT: Bethany L.)

3.17.2008

The Son of Man Must...

Mark 8:31-33 - And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

3.13.2008

Death, Funerals, and the Life to Come

Today, during a funeral service, I looked around and noticed that most of those in attendance were older. This can be expected when the one who has died was almost 103. As I sat among those people I thought about how the older a person gets, the more that death becomes a common reality. While death can come even to the young, it is certainly less common. Most of my friends (from high school and college) are still alive. Many of them are marrying and beginning new stages in life. Yet, for the aging, they live in a time in which their friends and family are not beginning new stages of life; rather, they are finishing life in this world. Yet, even in death, there is hope for those who are in Christ Jesus. The end of this life takes us to life unending. Oh, what joy awaits those who will see Him face to face!

**1 Corinthians 15:54-57
- "
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

**Romans 8:38-39 - For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


3.12.2008

Unexpected Prize


Today, I attended an open house for EDEN (Erskine Distance Education Network). In addition to learning about the various class offerings and eating good food, I won a 4GB IPOD Nano! That's a $149 value! I am really thankful that the Lord blessed me with this unexpected prize.

3.11.2008

Biblical Greek Resources

I came across a great website a few days ago for The Institute of Biblical Greek. The website is filled with helpful resources for studying and learning Greek.

Father-Hunger

In a recent post, Father-Hunger and Pastoral Ministry, Tim Bayly writes:
God cares about the bonding of fathers and children and his servants ought to share this commitment. The recovery of fatherhood in the church, home, and society should not simply be ceded to social scientists or Dr. James Dobson; rather, it must be central to the strategic agenda of the Church as she witnesses to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What is fatherhood and why does it matter? The subject is inexhaustible, but let’s focus on two aspects of fatherhood—the fatherhood of God over all creation and that of pastors and elders in the Church, the household of faith.

Continue reading here.

As We Awake to the Day, Let Our...

Father, as we awake to the day You have made:

Let our thoughts be thoughts of You.
Let our words be words of praise to You.
Let our hearts be stirred to beat for You.
Let our actions be done to the glory of You.
Let our steps be guided in service of You.
Let our eyes be focused on seeing You.
Let our ears be opened to hear from You.
Let our feet be guided to follow You.
Let our lives be lived in devotion to You.

Amen.

3.10.2008

All At Once

I wonder if professors coordinate their classes so that all major tests and assignments are due on the same day? I'm sure it's not some kind of conspiracy, but things usually do work out that way. Tomorrow I have two tests and a book review due. So, I'm going to retreat into a cave now.

3.09.2008

Homeschooling in California

In case you haven't heard a California appeals report recently made a decision that would prohibit parents from homeschooling their children. Dr. Al Mohler writes:
Like a bolt from the blue, a California appeals court has ruled that the state's parents have no constitutional right to homeschool their own children. In a flash, a child welfare case that no one had noticed has become a flash point of controversy in the nation. Will homeschooling be ruled illegal in California?
Continue reading here.

3.08.2008

Dad, Who Made You?

Today, while I was studying for one of my classes and Alora was drawing, we had the following conversation:

Alora: Dad, who made you?
Me: What did you ask me?
Alora: Who made you?
Me: God.
Alora: What else did him make?
Me: God made all things.

At this point of the conversation, I realized that Alora was asking me the questions from the First Catechism. I waited for her to ask me the next question, but she started drawing again. So, I continued:

Me: Did I answer the questions correctly?
Alora: Yes, you did (she laughs).
Me: Why did God make you and all things?
Alora: For his glory.
Me: How can you glorify God?
Alora: By loving him and doing what he commands.
Me: You did a great job Alora.
Alora: Thanks my dad.

Rejecting the Commands of Scripture

In a recent CBMW blog post, "We Reject the Commands of Scripture" David Kotter cites a disturbing quote from Luke Timothy Johnson:
I think it is important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.
To say that this quote is disturbing is really just the tip of the iceburg. After reading Dr. Johnson's full article I became even more saddened. Dr. Johnson is supposed to be training people for ministry work. Yet, he and the institution in which he teaches are undermining the Church that they should be serving.

3.06.2008

Vows and the Framework of Gender

A few days ago, I mentioned that we have began a new sermon series, The Genesis of Gender. If case you missed the first two sermons, they are available here . (The second one should be up shortly). Although you really should take the time to listen to both sermons...if you don't have time to listen to the sermons yet... let me summarize them briefly. First, men and women are the same in that they are both equally created in the image of God. Men and women have equal worth and value. Second, men and women are different in that God has given them different roles as they both pursue the same purpose of glorifying God. Along the same thought lines of those discussions, I'd like to point your attention to an Old Testament text that is very insightful in relation to gender issues.

In Numbers 30 we find an interesting discussion in which the issue of vows is discussed within the framework of gender. Let's go to the text so that I can explain what I mean. First, the discussion begins by addressing the men:
If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (v.2).
According to this, text if a man makes a vow then he is obligated to keep the vow no matter what. The vow is final. Why? Because in the hierarchy of the family he is the leader. He is under the authority of God, and he speaks for himself and his family. Yet, in the next few verses as Moses discusses the issue of women and vows, we find a different scenario:
If a woman vows a vow to the Lord and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father's house in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her (v.3-5).
Isn't it interesting to note that the vow of a woman, who is in this case within her father's house, stands or falls based on whether or not her father agrees or disagrees with the vow? Why is this the case? It is because her father is her authority, her head. He has been given the responsibility for watching and caring for his daughter's well-being. If he is silent, then the vow stands. If he opposes it, the vow is void. Yet, the discussion does not end with the authority of father's. Next, Moses demonstrates that headship isn't just a matter between father's and daughters but also between husbands and wives:
“If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the Lord will forgive her (v.6-8).
Once again we see that the woman's vow stands or falls based on the authority of her head, who in this case is her husband. If he hears of the vow and says nothing, then his silence becomes the mark of his approval. Yet, if he opposes the vow, it become null and void.

So, why does this matter? The world (and even a number of Christians) would like for us to believe that male authority and headship is a bad thing. Of course, some men do abuse there God-established authority. They fail to love as Christ loved the Church. Yet, as we see in Exodus 30, headship should serve to protect and serve women. A loving father only wants what is best for his daughter. And a loving husband only wants what is best for his wife. So, father's and husbands: love the women that the Lord has called you lead. Realize that God has called you to look out for the interest of the ladies in your life. Daughters and wives: realize that your father or husband's authority has been put in place by God, in order to show His care for you.

3.01.2008

Four to One

As many of you know, Amy is pregnant again. Yesterday, we went for an ultra sound, and I found out that I'm going to be the father of another beautiful girl! It looks like my future is going to be filled with even more dolls, tea parties, nail painting, cooking, and other "girly"activities. I know that some men believe that having a son is the pinnacle of fatherhood. I disagree. I've had people ask me if we're going to keep "trying" until we have a boy. My response is this: While I would have been happy to have a son, I do not feel that I'm missing out on anything. I believe that I am blessed because the Lord has called me to father three wonderful girls. Amy often tells me that she thinks that I was made to be a father of girls, and I believe that she's right. In the future, when some fathers take their sons to football practice, I'll go with my girls to practice ballet or gymnastics...and that's just fine with me.