Monday, April 30

Brian McCrorie: 'Speaking The Truth In Love'

While the News And Views You Can Use blog is up and running (as you can see at the left sidebar); and while we normally draw your attention to valuable insights and articles via News And Views, Brian McCrorie offers a noteworthy and insightful post that deserves front-page attention. So here it is:

As a result of a recent discussion at my favorite blog in the world, SharperIron, I have again come to wrestle internally with various aspects of Christian character and how they are communicated to a watching world. The following is just my thinking over the issues. I did not supply supporting Bible passages for each assertion, but can if it would be helpful for anyone.

I come from a tradition that takes pride in being called “Fighting Fundamentalists” and uses terms like “militant” to describe their stance toward error. I agree with this approach, by the way, as long as it is focused on the faith, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When militancy and a fighting spirit, however, become the modus operandi of Christian fundamentalists, I can understand why many “hold their noses” at us. That kind of lifestyle stinks. Don’t believe me? Try talking to homosexuals today in terms of Sodom and Gomorrah and what will happen to them if they don’t convert.

Now admittedly, I’m making a generalization. Some may say, “That’s not the fundamentalism I know!” And…they’re right. Not all fundamentalists live and breathe hellfire and damnation. But many do.
Continue reading HERE.

For what it's worth, Brian gets a hearty AMEN from this fundamentalist fringe forum! We would like to give a reverberating hand-clap, but doing so would outrage many a fightin' fundy!

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Sunday, April 29

Lessons From Today's Tragedy: Cardinals Pitcher Josh Hancock Dead at 29

Every so often, God ordains a tragic set of events that remind us what is truly important.

Today is one of those days.

The Cardinals/Cubs talk ... the Bird/Jordan talk ... seems senseless today.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. Perhaps we are far too frivolous. Perhaps we have adopted our culture's philosophy of making a mountain out of a mole hill ... and making a mole hill of a mountain. Life itself is so precious -- games and athletics and championships are not.

[By the way, our culture's view of life (and death) is evident on the homepage. As I draft this post, Randy Moss's trade to the New England Patriots is the cover story ... Hancock's untimely and tragic death is relegated to the headlines sidebar.]

May God use the tragic events of life to remind us of what's truly important, that which really matters.

In researching my text for tonight's sermon regarding the greatest danger facing the church today (that the next generation would not know God--see the example of Eli and his sons in 1 Samuel 2-3:1), I stumbled upon an illustration John Piper used to reference the frailty of life, and how life's preciousness should impact our priorities:

At age 22, Jim Elliot had a promising ministry in front of him in the United States. He probably could have been a very successful pastor or evangelist or teacher. His parents were not very excited about his call to go to the Quichuas in South America. They wrote and told him so. He answered bluntly.

"I do not wonder that you were saddened at the word of my going to South America," he replied on August 8. "This is nothing else than what the Lord Jesus warned us of when He told the disciples that they must become so infatuated with the kingdom and following Him that all other allegiances must become as though they were not ..."

(Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, [New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers: 1958] p. 132)

Today we are reminded of the truth Jim Elliot understood at so young an age ... "that we must become so infatuated with the kingdom and following Christ that all other allegiances must become as though they were not."

God help that to be true of us.

Let us remember the preciousness of life itself (see James 4:14), and as we reflect upon this truth, let us pray for the family of former Cardinal pitcher, Josh Hancock.

Read the Cardinals press release concerning the Hancock tragedy HERE.

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Dr. Lee Roberson - Some Thoughts on His Passing

Shortly after my conversion I picked up a book in my church's bookstore entitled "Double-Breasted". It was the life story of Dr. Lee Roberson. Shortly following that I read a couple of other books by Dr. Roberson that were a blessing to me personally. I then wrote a very simple and pointed letter to Dr. Roberson expressing my appreciation for his books and his ministry (my pastor at the time was a TTU grad). Within a week's time, Dr. Roberson sent me back a personalized letter thanking me for my prayers and support!!! No, this was not a generalized letter that is sent out to everyone who writes, rather this was personalized where he used my name, circumstances, salvation experience and age as a reference (I have since lost this letter but hope to recover it soon).

Shortly thereafter as a very young believer (only saved 1 year at the time) I enrolled at Tennessee Temple University for the fall semester (1993). This was a difficult time for this university. It was going through changes both in leadership and philosophy. Enrollment was down, finances were tight, some buildings including dormitories were not in use, and a transition was under way. TTU was always associated with IFB churches and always had a large IFB constituency. Slowly but surely, both the associations, standards and constituency began to change. It was during this time as a very young believer that I got my first taste of both sides within the realm of IFBxdom. Many young people there were lukewarm and had grown apathetic towards the things of God. Much of this was due, I believe, to militant legalism being shoved down their throats with no grace or Scriptural reasoning. Nevertheless, there was still a contingency of others who still clung to rabid KJVonlyism and militant fundamentalism. For the most part, that is the crowd that I aligned with.

It was also during this time that I had much confusion over issues that fundamentalists still brawl about to this day - music, dating, church affiliation and the version issue. That was when I had my first contact with Dr. Roberson. I made an appointment to see him on a Saturday morning and we spent some time together discussing these issues. I will never forget his gracious, kind and loving spirit that he conveyed. He reminded of a war torn veteran that had been aged by the pressures of ministry and life. What he did at the end of the appointment is what will stick with me forever. Before we closed he literally got up out of his chair and on his face next to his desk and lifted me up in prayer. To this day, that has a lasting impact on me.

We had one other appointment together before I left TTU. Again, he was gracious, kind and amiable in every way. Dr. Roberson represented what was good about the IFB movement. He was not an arrogant or mean spirited nut. He was a gentlemen in every sense of the word. He had an unwavering zeal to reach the lost and to obey the Great Commission. He was also passionate about training Christian leaders for generations to come.

Yes, him and I would have strong disagreements today about a myriad of subjects including Calvinism, KJV onlyism, standards and methodology. Dr. Roberson associated with many that I would consider harmful and irrational concerning the cause of fundamentalism. More than likely I would not go to a church that he pastored and it is safe to say that he would not go to my church as well. Though I disagreed with some methods that were used by Roberson, I applaud his passion for souls and his commitment to missions. I also applaud the fact that he, unlike many of the famous "rock stars" of fundamentalism avoided ANY type of dark cloud hovering over his ministry due to allegations regarding involvement with women, mishandling money, or not being above reproach in any way. For that, he is worthy of our respect.

Dr. Roberson represented one of the "good guys" of the IFB movement. He will be missed by many. Praise God that he is now "absent from the body and present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:7).

You can read the press release here. Ironically, he was a graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky!


Saturday, April 28

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!!!

What a wonderful evening last night!!! Not only did I enjoy some great fellowship with a couple of men in my church and another area pastor, I was able to watch my Cubbies destroy the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Blogmate and good friend Ken Fields indicated to me yesterday that Jason Marquis would not last five innings. Well....the pitcher that the Cardinals gave up on was gladly taken by the Cubs and has come back to defeat the lowly Redbirds twice in one week! Marquis really only made about two bad pitches in 6 2/3 innings in his domination of the Cardinals for his second consecutive win.

This is a great rivalry. One that the Cubs have dominated over the past couple of years. Tonight was no different. The Cubs actually found a way to win a close game. Ryan Dempster came through in the clutch mowing down the Redbirds in the end.

Some highlights from the game:

  • Watching Aramis Ramirez crank a towering home run that silenced Cardinal Nation and gave the Cubs a lead that they would never relinquish the rest of the game.
  • Again, the performance by Jason Marquis. It is has been nice to see him vindicate his career with the Cubs after the Cardinals failed to utilize his talent.
  • Seeing Jim Edmonds (my least favorite Cardinal) thrown out at home simply due to the fact that he was unwilling to run into catcher Michael Barret in order to "protect" himself.
  • Watching a home run ball hit by Scott Spezio go foul during a crucial part of the game and hearing the Busch Stadium crowd silenced when the umpire called - FOUL BALL!!! That was priceless!
  • Seeing Dempster come back after Spezio's long foul ball pitching strike three to a whining Spezio who seemingly forgot where the strike zone is.
  • Being able to fellowship with my brothers in Christ while enjoying victorious baseball at the same time.
Look for continued domination of the Cards this weekend by the Cubbies with Zambrano going today and Rich Hill going tomorrow. For Cardinal Nation, your season is not looking very good right now. Your pitching is horrible, your hitting is very sporadic and inconsistent, and you are lacking the overall solid team play that has characterized many Cardinal teams of the past ten years.

But for now.....GO CUBS GO!!! What a great night of baseball and I'm looking forward to today as well!

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Friday, April 27

Creation Museum Drawing Much Attention

The following story is from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

PETERSBURG, Ky. - Tyrannosaurus rex was a strict vegetarian, and lived with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

There were dinosaurs of every kind aboard Noah's ark. Some dinosaurs managed to hang around until just a few hundred years ago. The legend of St. George slaying the dragon? That probably was a dinosaur.

Exhibits showing all this and more will be at the Creation Museum, a $27 million religious showcase nearing completion in Northern Kentucky.

The museum is being built by a nonprofit group called Answers in Genesis. It is scheduled to open on Memorial Day. Museum and Northern Kentucky tourism officials expect it to be a boon to the region, bringing in at least 250,000 visitors in its first year.

But mainstream scientists, who have dubbed it the Fred and Wilma Flintstone Museum, say the museum's message is just plain wrong.
Continue reading HERE.

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A Puritan Blowout

Not sure what that title implies, but if you enjoy reading the Puritans, it's time to raid the living room sofa cushions and the winter coat pockets for some loose change! That's about all you'll need to secure several of these classics for yourself.

Take a look at the Wesminster Theological Seminary library HERE or just click on one of the images below. Please note: the prices on the left are the regular prices ... the prices on the right are the sale prices.

Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Leather Gift Edition
by Bennett, Arthur G.

$26.00 $14.30

Bruised Reed (Puritan Paperbacks) (Paperback)
by Sibbes, Richard

$7.00 $3.85

Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction
by Ferguson, Sinclair B.

$10.00 $5.50

Communion with God
by Owen, John
ST 673: 100%

$9.00 $4.95

Five Points of Calvinism
by Seaton, W. J.

$2.00 $1.10

Godly Man's Picture
by Watson, Thomas

$8.00 $4.40

Let's Study Revelation
by Thomas, Derek

$14.00 $7.70

Let's Study Philippians (Paperback)
by Ferguson, Sinclair B.

$13.00 $7.15

Revival and Revivalism
by Murray, Iain H.

$33.00 $18.15

Spurgeon: A New Biography
by Dallimore, Arnold A.

$16.00 $8.80

Through the Year with William Still (Hardcover)
by Still, William (David Searle, Editor)

$26.00 $14.30

Behind a Frowning Providence
by Murray, John J.

$2.50 $1.38

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Thursday, April 26

Bono, Poverty, and the Bible

OK, I'll admit it.

I actually watched the final seven minutes of last night's American Idol--just long enough to hear Bono's promise to eradicate poverty world-wide.

Perhaps it would do Bono well to actually read the Bible he claims to follow:

John 12:8 (ESV), " For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."
While seeking to alleviate poverty is a worthwhile pursuit (a pursuit Judas Iscariot was lauding in the John 12 passage), promising to succeed in such an effort is arrogant and self-seeking--particularly in light of Jesus' words.

According to this report, it seems Bono 'Still Hasn't Found What He's Looking For:'

U2 rock star and humanitarian Bono has come in for some recent criticism. According to Advertising Age (registration required), his (RED) campaign has spent upward of $100 million on advertising to produce a mere $18 million for the Global Fund to support African AIDS programs.

A little more than a year ago, Bono and Bobby Shriver launched the (RED) campaign in London. It would go on to attract attention (and advertising) from such media elites as Steven Spielberg, Chris Rock, and Oprah Winfrey, while attracting sponsorships from AOL and MySpace. It created quite a buzz: Ads were all over the place and the world would be changed.

The idea was simple: new lines of consumer goods—all from the trendiest companies, Gap, Giorgio Armani, Motorola, Apple iPod—would be launched with the (RED) logo. When you bought one of these products, the company would give a fraction of the proceeds to the Global Fund. The (RED) Manifesto put it simply: “You buy (RED) stuff. We get the money, buy the pills and distribute them. . . . If they don’t get the pills, they die. We don’t want them to die. We want to give them the pills. And we can. And you can. And it’s easy. All you have to do is upgrade your choice.”

By “upgrade your choice,” they meant buy their products. “You, the consumer, can take your purchase to the power of (RED) simply by upgrading your choice. Thus the proposition: (YOU)RED. Be embraced, take your own fine self to the power of (RED). What better way to become a good-looking samaritan?!”

Buying overpriced luxury items—the true meaning of the Parable of the Good-Looking Samaritan. Anyway, it’s been a year now, and the results seem poor. Unhappy with the Advertising Age report, the CEO of (RED) issued a public response. It makes some valid points: The money was going to be spent on product advertising anyway, so we might as well raise awareness about AIDS in Africa and raise some money at the same time. Certainly the sick in Africa aren’t sneering at the $18 million. For many, it has been the difference between life and death.

But there is something wrongheaded—even repulsive—about the approach. Turning the life-and-death plight of an entire continent into just another advertising strategy. Making charitable giving a matter of satisfying consumerist desires. Attempting to solve African need by Western greed.

Continue reading Ryan T. Anderson's article HERE.

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PCA Committee Releases Report on New Perspective/Federal Vision Theologies

Thanks to Greg Linscott for directing our attention to this valuable and insightful information.

Here are the committee's declarations concerning the aberrant New Perspective and the Federal Vision theology:

In light of the controversy surrounding the NPP and FV, and after many months of careful study, the committee unanimously makes the following declarations:

1. The view that rejects the bi-covenantal structure of Scripture as represented in the Westminster Standards (i.e., views which do not merely take issue with the terminology, but the essence of the first/second covenant framework) is contrary to those Standards.

2. The view that an individual is “elect” by virtue of his membership in the visible church; and that this “election” includes justification, adoption and sanctification; but that this individual could lose his “election” if he forsakes the visible church, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

3. The view that Christ does not stand as a representative head whose perfect obedience and satisfaction is imputed to individuals who believe in him is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

4. The view that strikes the language of “merit” from our theological vocabulary so that the claim is made that Christ’s merits are not imputed to his people is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

5. The view that “union with Christ” renders imputation redundant because it subsumes all of Christ’s benefits (including justification) under this doctrinal heading is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

6. The view that water baptism effects a “covenantal union” with Christ through which each baptized person receives the saving benefits of Christ’s mediation, including regeneration, justification, and sanctification, thus creating a parallel soteriological system to the decretal system of the Westminster Standards, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

7. The view that one can be “united to Christ” and not receive all the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including perseverance, in that effectual union is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

8. The view that some can receive saving benefits of Christ’s mediation, such as regeneration and justification, and yet not persevere in those benefits is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

9. The view that justification is in any way based on our works, or that the so-called “final verdict of justification” is based on anything other than the perfect obedience and satisfaction of Christ received through faith alone, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.
Tim Bayly also comments:
"The PCA general assembly appointed a committee to study the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision/Auburn Avenue theology. The report has just been issued and can be found here. Not to prejudge the matter, but the above quote is indicative of the fact that there are real teeth in the report's declarations and recommendations--teeth that, if the coming assembly adopts the report, will require a number of men to make some tough choices about their ecclesiastical commitments..."
Read the entire post HERE.

Praise God for the Presbyterians!

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Bird vs. Jordan: Video Evidence That Demands A Verdict

I don't really have a dog in this fight. I personally loved Bird's game over Jordan's game for the following reasons:

  1. He was an athletically-challenged (slow and gravity-challenged) white man. I am a similarly athletically-challenged white man.
  2. He was an incredibly smart team leader and team-oriented player. I, likewise.
  3. He was one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history. I set a few records myself in this department.
  4. He was one of the greatest passers I have ever seen. I enjoyed setting up a teammate, yet without Bird's consummate skill in this area.
I loved Larry Bird because I could relate to him and in some small fashion imitate him. There was no such chance for me in regard to Michael Jordan. His athletic ability is unprecedented. I secretly longed to "be like Mike", but I was smart enough to know that it was absolutely impossible. Therefore, I chose of my own free will to root against him at every turn.

All that being said. It is obvious to anyone with two eyes that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player to ever live! PERIOD! It pains me to say it, but it is absolute truth. Here is just a fraction of the video proof available. Judge for yourself.

Pay special attention to :27 as this was the video I was really looking for.

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Wednesday, April 25

Bird vs. Jordan: The Final Stanza (With Video Proof)

Here's the proof ...

OK, it looks like Jordan can keep up ... but not so fast!

Can't argue with that ... the uncanny ability to win games with one shot--without the aid of a right forearm push-off!

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Some of My Favorite Preachers

There are some preachers that I could listen to at any time, any place, and any type of setting. Their messages are usually always fresh with biblical truth that is preached in an expository way that is faithful and centered on the Gospel. Since preachers like this today are difficult to find in our "felt needs" society, I always appreciate those who preach the Word faithfully and zealously.

The men I am going to list here are men that I do NOT agree with on every issue. Some are paedo-baptists (YIKES!), others are non-dispy's (another YIKES!), and......drum roll here folks - some are not even Baptists!

1. Alistair Begg - Pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio who brings a refreshing aspect to solid expository preaching. You'll get over his Scottish accent in time. A solid Reformed preacher who is recovering from recent surgery. Please keep him in your prayers.

2. Ligon Duncan - I can just hear my Baptist brethren squirming right now! Before you blatantly ignore this preacher (who is a Presbyterian) I would encourage you to follow the link that I provided and listen to some of his messages. He is incredibly articulate, expository and refreshing. I would definitely travel a good distance to hear him preach. Incidentally, his church is First Presbyterian Church of Jackson Mississippi.

3. Phil Ryken - Yet another Presbyterian! Ryken is the senior pastor at the famous Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. You can criticize me later for that one folks but he is nevertheless incredibly biblical and one of the BEST expositors of the Word that you will hear. You would do yourself good to click on the link and listen to a few of his exegetical masterpieces.

4. James MacDonald - Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows Illinois. While I do not agree with everything that MacDonald may say or all of his associations (he is definitely NOT a separatist) I do enjoy his unique and engaging approach to preaching.

5. Steve Viars - And now for our first Baptist!!! Viars who is the senior pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette Indiana is not only a Baptist - he is a GARBC Baptist!!! Really though, he is a tremendous communicator who is dogmatically biblical and expository in his preaching. It also helps to know that his church has pioneered much of the Nouthetic Counseling movement in America today. Hundreds of pastors, lay leaders, and Christians from around the world go to Faith Baptist Church's Biblical Counseling Training every February.

6. John MacArthur - Need I say anymore? I literally can not get enough of his faithful exposition of the Word. His preaching, books and especially his commentaries have been incredibly beneficial to both preachers and laypeople alike. If by some unforeseen mishap you are not familiar with his ministry be sure to click on the link and have your heart challenged and your soul filled with the milk of the Word.

Time does not permit me to come up with an honorable mention list but there are many others. How about you? Who is on your list?

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So Whatcha Think?

Thanks to Thirsty David for his work on the new sidebar NEWS AND VIEWS YOU CAN USE blog.

Check it out.

If you have any suggestions, comments, or ideas, let us know!

And a special note of thanks to Thirsty David for his patient longsuffering with this HTML/CSS challenged blogger!

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You Tube Wednesday: Please Don't Let Your 4-Year-Old Child Play College Football

Because it hurts ...

Did you hear the thud? The boy was not seriously injured, but the gash on his forehead required thirty stitches.

In all seriousness: following this incident, Colorado State is reviewing its policy regarding children playing near the sideline!

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Tuesday, April 24

Video Promo for the 2008 T4G Conference

It is hard to believe that it was a year ago when so many of us gathered together in Louisville Kentucky for the first Together for the Gospel Conference. In a promo video that is both reflective and insightful we get a sneak peek into next year's conference. Registration opens soon for this one that I fully intend on going to.

You can see the video here.

Not So Funny: Comedian Bill Maher Breaks In To Answers In Genesis Creation Museum

The new $30 million, 60,000-square-foot Creation Museum, built on prime real estate near Cincinnati's airport, isn't scheduled to open its doors officially until May 28, but it already had its first celebrity visitor.

The facility, the crowning achievement of Answers in Genesis, which defends a biblical worldview including its account of Creation, was visited unexpectedly – and covertly – by comedian Bill Maher, formerly of ABC's "Politically Incorrect" and lately of HBO's "Real Time," and who once said Christians suffer from a neurological disorder.

Ken Ham, president of the organization, calls the incident part of "an elaborate media deception."

"A video crew with so-called 'First Word Productions' arranged to come to AiG to visit the museum for a documentary on world religions," explains Ham. "At the end of their three-hour visit and taping, they wanted to do a sit-down interview with me in my office. They asked permission to drive around the back of the building to bring in their equipment. Then one of the crew members distracted a staff member who was with me and – without registering with our security office, as they knew had to be done – they propped open a back door and sneaked HBO commentator and comedian Bill Maher into my office. I only vaguely recognized him, and just figured this person was a latecomer to the filming."

Continue reading the WorldNetDaily article HERE.

Also, is running an unscientific poll regarding the incident:

Should Bill Maher be prosecuted for alleged breaking and entering?

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Why Did The Christian Cross The Road?

Being the father of three rambunctious and imaginative children, I have nearly had my fill of the age-old 'Why did the chicken ... or the frog ... or the Chicago Cubs fan cross the road?' not-so-funny jokes (except for the Chicago Cubs fan one).

Until we were returning from our Galena vacation.

Our two oldest children were riding out this leg of the trip in Nana & Papa's (Joanna's parents) van. Hannah, our youngest (for the time being) had squeezed herself between suitcases in the back seat of our van. Joanna and I weren't paying much attention to what Hannah was doing or saying because, as the youngest, she has learned to entertain herself with dolls, animals, and made-up songs and jokes.

Apparently Hannah had convinced herself that her latest 'Why did the ____________ cross the road?' joke had something special, because from the back of the van she suddenly quipped ...

"Mommy and Daddy, why did the Christian cross the road?"

To which we (perhaps rolling our eyes!) replied: "We don't know, Hannah. Why?"

"Because he wanted to preach the Gospel!"

And we laughed.

And then deep inside this daddy's heart, I felt a flutter of joy--not because my youngest daughter possesses an over-active imagination, but that as a six-year-old she is aware of two truths. First, she understands who's responsible for the proclamation the Gospel--Christians. Second, she understands what Christians are to proclaim--the Gospel.

I thank God for everyday evidences of His grace in our childrens' lives--evidences we as parents regularly overlook.

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Does God Speak Outside The Bible?

In light of yesterday's discussion topic, I encourage our readers to take 35 minutes of your time and ride on over to the White Horse Inn for a refreshing drink of the historical understanding of prophecy and revelation.

Does God still speak today? And if so, how?

The answers to the above questions will have a profound impact on one's understanding of the authority and sufficiency (Sola Scriptura) of Scripture.

My question to charismatics has always been this: Why do we need extra-biblical revelation if 2 Timothy 3:15-17 are indeed true?

"And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."
Listen in on the stimulating White Horse Inn discussion HERE.

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Monday, April 23

A Can't-Miss Controversy: The Written Word or The Holy Spirit?

Over at his Cerulean Sanctum blog, Dan Edelen responds to the following comment from Tony Carter (of the Council of Reforming Churches blog) on the importance of reading:

It is the primary means through which God has chosen to communicate to his people. The fact that the principle revelation of God to his people is the written word should not be lost to us. It reveals not only that we are intellectual beings, expected to reason and rationally assess logically communicated data, but it also demonstrates the primacy of written communication. Reading demonstrates our God given ability to reason and puts us in a better mind to access the Word of God. Not only is the special revelation (Bible) of God better understood through reading, so too is general revelation (nature) better understood through reading those who have written on the natural order of things.
To which Dan responds:

I don’t normally jump all over someone else’s posts. Nor do I encourage rancor in the Godblogosphere since it (100 percent of the time) accomplishes nothing good for the Kingdom. But I saw something this weekend that just made my jaw drop.

Over at the Council of Reforming Churches, Tony Carter wrote an innocuous-looking post entitled “Reasons for Reading.” As an avid reader, I fully support reading. If I can look back on one good thing I did for my son, it’s that I got him reading at a young age—and enjoying it immensely. He goes over to another kid’s house and scopes out the books before the toys. If nothing else I do for him educationally, at least I know he’ll have a love for books.

No, what troubled me more than anything was Carter’s reasoning for why all Christians should be avid readers:

[Reading] is the primary means through which God has chosen to communicate to his people.

In short, no. Not even close.

Now before I get a hundred Scripture verses tossed my way, let me make a very simple (and historically) accurate statement: The reason that reading CANNOT be the primary means through which God has chosen to communicate to His people is that for most of human history, very few people could read. Illiteracy is the primary state of most humans throughout civilization, and only the cultural and governmental elite possessed a literacy rate worth mentioning.

I shouldn’t have to draw out this conclusion, but if most people in human history are/were illiterate, than that goes for most of the people labeled “Christian.”

This poses a horrid problem then, for if what Carter says is true in his statement, then most Christians were fundamentally cut off from communicating with God.

Continue reading Dan's response HERE.

As much as I appreciate Dan's writing, I must part ways with him on this one. God has revealed Himself to man primarily through words--written words:
Revelation 1:10-11, 19 (ESV), "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, 'Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.' Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this."
Obviously, Christ commanded John to write what he was seeing and hearing so that the words could be read (John was commanded to 'write' 13 times in Revelation).

If God has not communicated to man primarily through the written word, then we are left without an objective standard of truth. While Dan is right to emphasize the work of the Spirit in the believer's life (something Dan has rightly pointed out as missing in today's fundamental evangelicalism), we must be mindful that the Spirit always works in conjunction with (not in addition to, or in contradiction to) the written Word of God:
John 14:26 (ESV), "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."
The above verse gives meaning and insight into Christ's further teaching on the subject:
John 16:13-15 (ESV), "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."
I believe Dan is misunderstanding Tony's point ... it's not that God has chosen to communicate with mankind through the reader's reading of His Word, it's that God has chosen to communicate with mankind through the text--the written, inspired, inerrant Word. This is a subtle but important distinction.

So is God to be viewed as callous and uncaring because a majority of our world's population cannot read His Word (either because of illiteracy or because there is no copy of the Scriptures available in their mother tongue)? No. While the written Word is the foundation for our message, we can proclaim the message (the written word) verbally to those who cannot read or see. We can write the words and draw pictures for those who cannot hear. But we must always speak and write and draw what's already been written.

The issue here is not reading; the issue here is the cornerstone of our faith--the written revelation of God. It's the objective standard of truth (John 17:17). It's the revelation of God to man (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It's the means of salvation (1 Peter 1:23; 2 Timothy 3:15) and sanctification (John 17:17). It's the truth of which the Spirit speaks (John 14:26). And it's the message God has promised to bless (Isaiah 55:11).

It is not only our responsibility to read it for ourselves (Acts 17:11), it is our responsibility to proclaim it to those who cannot read it for themselves (Romans 10:14-17).

NOTE: I do not think it's an either/or proposition. We rejoice in (and are totally dependent upon) the ministry of the Holy Spirit--who always works in conjunction with the written Word of God!

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Friday, April 20

The Real Deal? A MacArthur NASB Study Bible For Under A Buck

Seems too good to be true, but it appears to be true:

Click HERE to reserve your copy ... or two ... or ten!

I just ordered five, and with shipping and handling my order came to $10.90!

They will not be available until the end of November, and should be received the first week of December. They sure will make great Christmas gifts for my father and two brothers!

NOTE: It appears has filled their alloted quota of pre-orders on this product.

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Thursday, April 19

Reflections on God and Virginia Tech

I had hoped it would not be necessary to draft this post. Perhaps it is unnecessary, but there are a few things that (for lack of a better vocabulary) I must get off my proverbial chest.

Please do not perceive this as a rant, but as a few brief reflections on God and the Virginia Tech massacre. If you are weary of this topic, please skip down to Reflection 3.

Reflection 1: Tuesday morning, while the facts of the Virginia Tech tragedy were still being pieced together, a radio commentator in the St. Louis area made the following comment:

"How could our society have failed this young man [referring to gunman Cho Seung-Hui] so horribly? This is not how the South Korean culture deals with their problems, it's only in America that we deal with our problems in violence [not sure how this commentator overlooked Iraq and Iran, etc.]. In the nine-or-so years he lived here, that's what he learned from our culture--that you deal with your problems by killing people."
Hearing this nearly caused me to pluck my over-sized ears from my head. According to this man, the American culture was to blame for Cho's depravity.

Scripture vehemently disagrees with this well-meaning but mis-informed radio commentator: human depravity is not cultural, it is universal. This man was just as capable of performing his dastardly deed in South Korea as he was in Blacksburg. His heart was just as deceitful across the ocean as it was across the campus of Virginia Tech.

I do not deny that our society and culture has its problems (no true Christ-believer would). But to blame this man's depraved behavior on society is dodging his real problem:
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV), "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

James 4:1-3 (ESV), "
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
Culture cannot be blamed for personal sin just as it cannot be lauded for personal reform. Culture has never made people bad (remember the Garden of Eden), and it will never make people good (only Christ can do that, 2 Corinthians 5:17). In Jesus' own words, the heart is the issue:
Matthew 15:19 (ESV), "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander."
Reflection 2: The only victims here are the dead and their families.

Cho is not a victim, regardless of what he states in his video diatribe. There is no one to blame for this tragedy but Cho himself. He devised the wicked plot; he purchased the guns and ammo; and he pulled the trigger. His parents are not to blame. His homeland (South Korea) is not to blame. Society is not to blame. The rich kids are not to blame. Christians are not to blame. And God is not to blame (see James 1:13-14).

Cho is no martyr. He is no victim. He is a murderer.

But before we toss stones Cho's way, let us remember that apart from the grace of God, each of us is capable of such heinous acts. Apart from God intervening and conquering the idols and sin in our hearts, we could have been the ones pulling the trigger. In a way, we have.

We are responsible for murder. We are responsible for an unjustifiable homicide. We took the life of an innocent man. Our sin demanded a Father's justice be poured out on an innocent, sinless Son. And so, Jesus died. Willingly. Purposefully. According to the will and plan of His Father.

He died for all who would put their faith in Him alone for salvation. It was the Father's plan. It was the Son's purpose. It was on our behalf.

May this week's events drive us back to the foot of our Savior's cross. May this week's tragedy cause us to reflect upon God's sovereign grace and goodness portrayed in the cross.
1 Peter 3:18 (ESV), "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit."
Reflection 3: During times like these I find it helpful to remember the promise of Romans 8:28-29.
Romans 8:28-29 (ESV), "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."
Here are a few thoughts from these verses: First, God never promises to work all things for the good of everyone. Paul qualifies the people for whom God is working--namely "those who love God ... those who are called according to His purpose." That God would be capable and willing to work all things for our good is a benefit enjoyed only by believers.

During tragedies and disasters, the qualification of this promise is a truth many Christians overlook. Accurately explaining the goodness of God to unbelievers requires that we include the qualification of biblical promises like this one. God never promised that circumstances would always be good, and He never promised that all circumstances would work for good in the unbeliever's life (which does not diminish His love for all, John 3:16). Let's be careful of giving either of these faulty and dangerous impressions.

Second, Romans 8:28 & 29 present a detailed explanation of God's loving and purposeful providence in the believer's life. I (attempt to) illustrate the truth of these verses with the following explanation:
Imagine your life as a jig-saw puzzle. Too often we think of God as a puzzle worker, frantically doing His best to make our lives resemble the picture on the front of the box. So when tragedies and disasters strike, God busily and hurriedly tries to salvage the final product by attempting to somehow make the pieces fit together. He does so with little planning, and little knowledge of where the pieces fit. He completes the jigsaw puzzle of our lives much like we would, with fear and trepidation that it may not all come together.

The more accurate picture is God as the puzzle creator rather than the puzzle worker. He created the jigsaw puzzle of our lives. He meticulously formed us, and fashioned the pieces of our lives to fit perfectly together. There is no hurry in His work. There is no frantic searching for misplaced pieces. The picture appearing on the front of the puzzle box is the finished product of our lives, ordained in eternity past. The tragedies and disasters of this life are those which He has planned, and he has shaped our puzzle pieces accordingly. Therefore, the puzzle pieces (even amid tragedy and disaster) fit together effortlessly and seamlessly, leaving no sign of struggle or panic--only beauty. It never fails, the final product always mirrors the image on the front of the box--the image of God's Son, Jesus Christ (see Romans 8:29).
It is my hope that reflecting upon Christ's cross will help the puzzle pieces of tragedy fit together a bit more perfectly and purposefully for you as it has for me. God wastes no disaster. He squanders no tragedy. He only uses them to deepen our dependence upon Himself, and to conform us to the image of His Son. These events are not pleasant, but they are purposeful.

And in that we find hope.

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Knuckleheads In The News: Left Behind Gone Mad

Ever considered the dangers of reading the ultra-popular, fantasy-laden Left Behind series?

Consider this:

A public school employee has been suspended for refusing to use a biometric time clock that scans fingerprints, claiming the process violates his religious beliefs.

The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board has scheduled a hearing on a grievance filed by the employee, the Rev. Herman Clayton Jr., for its meeting Thursday.

Joe Cook, director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, has urged the board to allow Clayton, a school system electrician and Baptist minister, to continue signing in and out of work, as he did for several months before being suspended without pay in February.

Clayton's objection to using the system rests on his belief in the "end time" doctrine; some end-time believers object to fingerprinting devices and other scanning technology as tools of the Antichrist, Cook said.

Continue reading HERE.

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Wednesday, April 18

Liviu Librescu: A Holocaust Survivor and Virginia Tech Hero

From FoxNews on the victims of the VT massacre:

Liviu Librescu

Librescu, 76, a Holocaust survivor and an Israeli lecturer in engineering science and mechanics, was born in Romania and was known internationally for his research in aeronautical engineering. He had taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years.

"His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials and more robust aerospace structures," said Ishwar K. Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.

Video: Click here to hear more about Librescu's heroic efforts

Librescu's son, Joe, said his father's students sent e-mails detailing how the professor saved their lives by guarding the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before he was fatally shot.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv, Israel. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mechanics lecturer. Born in Romania, he survived the Nazi Holocaust and emigrated to Israel in 1978 before moving to Virginia in 1985.

An Israeli citizen, he had taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and was internationally known for his work in aeronautical engineering.

After surviving the Nazi killings, Librescu escaped from Communist Romania and made his way to the United States before he was killed in Monday’s massacre, which coincided with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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Apparently There's More To The Cedarville/Beth Maynard Story

From Beth's own U2 Sermons Blog [click HERE]:


Speaking in Ohio
This coming week I'll be speaking at Cedarville University in Ohio. While I have four different engagements there, the only public U2-related event is Thursday night at 8 PM in the Stevens Student Center; it's called "The Goal Is Soul: The Work and Witness of U2." I'll also be in Cincinnati (no public events) for the first couple days of the week. If you'd like to try to connect while I'm in Ohio, drop me an email.
Here's further information:


Just a quick thank you to all the folks at Cedarville University. I really enjoyed the various events today - the honors class, the faculty lunch, and the public event this evening - and was delighted by the thoughtful, God-honoring, and unusually well-informed conversations and questions that ensued. Thanks for inviting me and for bringing your intellects and your faith to the analysis of art!
Apparently Beth spoke in an honors class, at the faculty lunch, and the public U2 symposium (which was highlighted HERE).

Neither the faculty lunch nor the honors class were addressed (or mentioned) in Dr. Scott Calhoun's response to Brian (HERE).

UPDATE: The videos have been removed from You Tube. The You Tube site reads ... "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party."

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Westboro Baptist Church Claims They Will Preach At Virgina Tech Funerals

This grieves my heart:

WBC will preach at the funerals of the Virginia Tech students killed on campus during a shooting rampage April 16, 2007. You describe this as monumental horror, but you know nothing of horror -- yet. Your bloody tyrant Bush says he is 'horrified' by it all. You know nothing of horror -- yet. Your true horror is coming. "They shall also gird themselves with sackloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads" (Eze. 7:18).

Why did this happen, you ask? It's simple. On April 16, 2007, this nation, through the offices of your military and conspirators therewith took a shot at the servants of God -- your marksman was limp and lame and he had terror all around, so he did a lousy job. But what you get for your trouble is that your God shot at you! The LORD your God sent a crazed madman to shoot at your children, and he didn't miss. Get this straight -- God sent this South Korean madman to kill 31 of your children at Virginia Tech. Was God asleep while this took place? Was He on vacation? Of course not. He willed this to happen to punish you for assailing His servants.
May God save us from such God-demeaning, grace-distorting vitriolic verbiage. Perhaps Westboro Baptist (I cringe using my own denominational tag) would be pleased to know the Bible addresses them on several occasions:
Proverbs 21:24 (ESV), "'Scoffer' is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride."

Isaiah 29:20 (ESV), "For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off."
Westboro Anti-Baptists ... may God have mercy on your souls. And may His mercy be in direct correlation to the mercy you have shown others (Matthew 18:23-35).

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Tuesday, April 17

Statement From Pastor In Blacksburg, Virginia

Statement from Pastor Chris Hutchinson, pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Blacksburg, VA, Tuesday, April 17th, 2007, 10:00 AM:

1) Our first priority is to try to find out whether any of the dead or wounded attended GCPC or our campus ministry, RUF, so that we may minister to them or their families. All media requests take a secondary place to that task. As of Tuesday morning, we do not know of anyone who attended GCPC who was killed or wounded. However, several worked in Norris Hall, and need prayer for the trauma they have undergone. Here is a story from WORLD magazine which includes information about what one of our members, Haiyan Cheng, went through. We baptized Haiyan and her family just last year. We praise God that He protected Haiyan and her students from the gunman, but mourn that he apparently continued his killing elsewhere. We give even more praise to God that had any of the bullets fired through the door hit Haiyan and taken her life, that even though she died, she yet would have lived, for Haiyan's faith is in Jesus Christ, Who died in her place for the forgiveness of sins (John 11:25-26).

2) If none of our own people were harmed, we are praying for ways that we can be a blessing to the larger community and bring the Gospel to hurting people. Please pray for us, and our whole church in that regard, that God would give us guidance, strength, compassion and wisdom.

3) We would be privileged to offer counsel and prayer to anyone at Virginia Tech who is need, regardless of their religious background, and will try to minister the Gospel to them in this. Vic Wolf, a minister and counselor in our congregation, is also making his services available to Tech students in need.

4) As of this point, I do not think we need other ministers to come to Blacksburg to help counsel. If that changes, we will notify those who have kindly volunteered.

5) The Lord blessed the prayer meeting last night with His presence and ministered to us through His word and prayer. There are several AP and Roanoke Times photos of the prayer meeting on the web [link | link | link | link | link]. One of the photographers told me how powerful the service was. It ended on a powerful note when the Rev. Keith Allen, of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Blacksburg told us of his email from his archbishop, Emmanuel Koliny of Rwanda, who reminded him of the large-scale massacres in his own country a decade ago, and told us he was praying for Blacksburg. He then reminded Keith of the African Benediction, which Keith then paraphrased and blessed us with:

Minister: All our problems . . .
People: We send them to the cross of Christ!
Minister: All our difficulties . . .
People: We send them to the cross of Christ!
Minister: All the devil's work . . .
People: We send them to the cross of Christ!
Minister: All our hopes . . .
People: We set on the risen Christ!
Minister: Christ, the Son of Righteousness, shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path: and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you, forever and ever. Amen.

[Originally posted at]

Let us boldly enter our King's throne room, interceding on behalf of students, professors, administrators, and families (including the perpetrator's) affected by this tragic event. May we find hope in the universal sovereignty of our King, who is capable of doing as He pleases in response to our prayers (Ephesians 1:11).

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Cedarville University Responds To The U2 Controversy

From the keyboard of one of our readers:

To all,

Here is Cedarville's response to my inquiry on this subject:

Dear Brian,

Thank you for contacting us. We've learned of the blogs over the past few days.

This event did take place and it was a co-sponsored event between the Student Life Division and the Department of Language and Literature. It was pre-approved by the university Administration.

The university invited Beth Maynard to come because she is extremely knowledgeable about the topic of U2, theology and culture, and the university thought it would be a service to our students to hear an informed, academically oriented presentation on a topic of considerable interest to both our culture and the church.

Mrs. Maynard is an author, a respected cultural critic, and holds a Master’s degree from Boston University. She did not speak in a chapel service and students were not required to attend her evening event. Students could choose to attend or not attend this free and open lecture.

We often have our students reading, watching, or listening to intelligent people who have thoughtful ideas to share or an informed critique to offer on a given topic. This is, we’ve found, not only a good way to create a healthy learning community and train our students to participate in this academic culture, but also a good way to prepare them to engage our culture upon graduation.

Our Baptist doctrinal convictions do not, of course, support the ordination of women. We do not see having an academic presentation by an ordained woman on a topic she is well-qualified to speak on - U2, theology, and culture - as being at odds with our doctrinal statement or our mission as a university.

I appreciate your inquiry and your invitation to us to allow us to explain our rationale.

Please don't hesitate to contact me further,


Dr. Scott Calhoun

Associate Professor of Language and Literature Cedarville University
Thanks, Brian, for your willingness to share Cedarville's response.

Brian's comment originally appeared in the comments section of THIS post, and can be read HERE.

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Cheer Up Pastors ...

Pastors – perceived to be some of the most under-appreciated and on-demand workers in America – are actually the happiest and most satisfied in their jobs, a new study found.

A survey by the University of Chicago found clergy as the top job for satisfaction among American workers; 87 percent of clergy reported being very satisfied. Firefighters (80 percent) and physical therapists (78 percent) were also the most satisfied in their profession.

"The most satisfying jobs are mostly professions, especially those involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others and creative pursuits,” said Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey (GSS) at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, in the report.
Continue reading at the Christian Post.

There you have it. Now there are no excuses for pastors to be grumpy!

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Monday, April 16

27 Books For 27 Bucks

WARNING: Guys, ask your wife if it's OK to read this post!!

27 books for 27 bucks: great authors ... great titles ... and a great deal.

Books included in the deal:

More information is available HERE.

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Falwell: "Limited Atonement ... is Heresy"

The Founder's Ministries blog details the latest from Liberty's pulpit:

Last Friday at the "College for a Weekend" emphasis at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, Jerry Falwell preached a chapel message to 1828 prospective new students along with current students, faculty and staff. Under the title of "Our Message, Mission and Vision," Dr. Falwell delcared his purpose to be to communicate who Liberty University is in order to persuade prospective students to matriculate there.

Much of what he said regarding the "message" of Liberty is praiseworthy and ought to be applauded by all Bible believing Christians. When he came to articulating their belief in the "substitutionary atonemement of Jesus Christ for all men," however, he added a statement that I find tragic. Here it is (about 10 minutes or so into the video):
"We are not into particular love or limited atonement. As a matter of fact we consider it heresy."
Continue reading HERE.

I guess that makes me a heretic.

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