Sunday, November 28, 2010

Monday Morning Devotions

Lk. 1:79- "To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

This is, of course, the final verse in Zacharias' prophecy concerning the cousin of John the Baptist, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus, God the Son, is our light, our guide.  But what are we guided through so that we can reach our final destination God the Father intends for us?  The Lord guides us through the darkness that inhabits our own hearts.  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer. 17:9) The Lord immediately answers this question: "I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind..." (Jer. 17:10)  God the Holy Spirit, sent from both the Father and the Son, enters the hearts of believers to search our hearts and test our minds the very moment we truely believe.  The indwelling Holy Spirit reveals to us what dwells in us that displeases our Lord.  The Holy Spirit reveals things to us we have hidden from others and ourselves, even things we thought were innocent and beneficial, but are really unholy. The Holy Spirit teaches us to cooperate with Him so we may be transformed into the very image of God's Son Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit also teaches us the truths contained in God's Word (Jn. 16:13) which enables us to discern between good and evil.  In this way, we are guided into the way of peace with God and with Man.     And this way of peace is the road to our final destination, being in the presence of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit forever.  Amen.

(All scripture verses from the NKJV)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monday Morning Devotions

Mt. 12:37- "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Who says that a promise has to be comforting?  A promise is simply a guarantee that a certain action will be undertaken in the future, or a continuing action will take place over a period of time, such as when couples marry, they promise to love each other till "death do we part."  Older people can remember a time when one's word was one's bond; if one promised to do something, if the parties agreed with a handshake, the action was as good as done.  Those of us who have faith in God know that God keeps His Word and He has given us promises upon promises concerning our soujourn on earth and our life with Him in heaven.

Yet not all God's promises are meant to comfort.  Some are meant as a warning.  In Mt. 12: 33-37, Jesus warned the Pharisees, and us today, that if our heart is not right, Godly words of praise and encouragement will not be a feature of our conversation.  Those who speak words that are not a blessing to God and Man Jesus calls "a brood of vipers!" (v. 34)  In this verse Jesus also calls them evil and those who are evil cannot speak good things.  Then Jesus warns, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement. " (v. 36)  Jesus is not just speaking of words actually cursing God or profanity or personal insults.  He warns that every idle word will be judged.  Idle.  Useless to the hearer.  If we focus on the trivial, distracting ourselves and others from the eternal, wasting precious time, we will give an account.  If we don't learn to thank God in private, how can we witness for Him in public?  If we don't meditate on God's goodness, how can we worship Him?  How can we lift up the downcast?  If we don't spend time in God's Word, how can we disciple others, rescuing them from wrong thinking and sinful attitudes and behaviors?  How we spend time in private will be revealed in our public behavior.  If we truly believe in Jesus, then our private moments will be dedicated to Him, and we will bear good fruit. (v. 35)  And we will not fear God's judgement because He has promised good to those who obey Him.  We know His word on this is sure.  But we can also be assured that if we fail to produce good fruit, condemnation awaits.  God's warnings imply the possibility of repentance and a different destiny.  There is still time to become men and women of God, those who please God and edify others.  Which promise, justification or condemnation, will you choose?

(All scripture quotations from the NKJV)    

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembering The Edmund Fitzgerald

Here is a video listing those who lost their lives on the Edmund Fitzgerald 35 years ago today from Scott McKnight's Jesus Creed Blog.

Publications And Papers By Wesleyan Theologians

This blog featured a series on Dennis Kinlaw's "Let's Start With Jesus: A New Way of Doing Theology", recently.  Dr. Kinlaw has recently published "Lectures In Old Testament Theology: Yahweh is God Alone."
This book is based on classroom lectures given at Asbury Theological Seminary in 1993.  Dr. Kinlaw is the past President of Asbury College as well as the founder and President of the Francis Asbury Society.  Here is a brief review promoting Kinlaw's book from the Touchstone Magazine blog by James M. Kushiner.

Dr. Kinlaw's book was edited by Dr. John N. Oswalt.  Dr. Oswalt was a professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary while I was a student there as well as my academic advisor.  He is now at Asbury Theological Seminary. He took a one year sabbatical to edit Kinlaw's book.  Here is a review of Dr. Oswalt's recent book "The Bible Among The Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature?" from Scott McNights Jesus Creed blog.

Dr. Matt Friedeman, Professor of Evangelism and Christian Education at Wesley Biblical Seminary, has written "Discipleship In The Home." Dr. Friedeman has also co-written with Lisa Friedeman Ausley, "LifeChanging Bible Study-Practical Keys to a Deeper Understanding of the Word." Here is a review of the first book from philipmarianne.blogspot.com

Dr. Gary Cockerill, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Wesley Biblical Seminary, will be presenting two papers at the Evangelical Theological Society.  They are " 'Justification' or 'Perfection'? Salvation in the Letter to the Hebrews" and "More Than Paul: The Justification Debate and the Letter to the Hebrews." (Originally read in Brian Small's blog.) When I was at Wesley Biblical, Dr. Cockerill was head of the Hebrews Study Group at the ETS.  I don't know if he still is.  Whether he still is or not, that is quite an honor considering how the ETS is dominated by Calvinists.

Today I saw a video featuring Dr. Al Mohler and others promoting the "New Calvinism."  In that video, Dr. Mohler states that serious Christians searching for a theological home can turn nowhere but to Reformed Theology.  Dr. Mohler is one of the best Christian commentators when it comes to cultural issues, but this comment reveals either willful ignorance or arrogance concerning other theological traditions.  I was planning on posting this article before I saw this video today.  Yet the publications listed here go a long way in showing brother Mohler the error of his thinking.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Audio Impressions

Here are links to stories 99% of blog readers would ignore: 

A professor from All Souls College, Oxford, reads a portion of Ancient Babylonian language.  He then explains how the language is reproduced.  The professor is quite entertaining. Running time: 3:36.

Another individual reads the Epilogue to the Code of Hammurabi in the original Akkadian language in 53 seconds.  This takes a much shorter time than one needs to read a provision of Congressional legislation.  I am sure the original Akkadian language makes more sense.

I found both links through Dr. Claude Mariottini's blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monday Morning Devotions

Prov. 11:18- "The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward."

"...he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward."

Is this passage a promise that all those who obey God's commands will materially prosper?  NO!  In fact, this passage, the preceding passages and the ones that follow, picture the wicked prospering materially in this world, while the righteous receive rewards of a far different and lasting character.  In Prov. 11:16, we read that a gracious woman preserves her honor, but ruthless men retain riches.  By "gracious," Solomon speaks of showing favor, being kindhearted to others.  Those who exhibit this graciousness gain a character that is looked up to, trusted, respected.  But ruthless men are only kind when it is to their advantage.  Their only gain on earth is riches.  A merciful man is at peace with God and man, while a cruel man "troubles his own flesh." (v. 17)  The cruel man must always worry that his cruelty to others will cause his victims to strike back at him.  He cannot allow himself to rest easy.  The deception of the wicked man (v. 18) brings vexation to him because he lies to everyone and it becomes impossible to keep track of all his lies.  Eventually, his dishonesty is exposed.  The man who pursues evil subjects himself to the world's revenge, the pangs of conscience and a thousand worries.  That is why Solomon warns us that such a life leads to death. (v. 19) 

The righteous have no such worries but have an expectation of a "sure reward" (v. 18), a life of expectation of experienceing the goodness of God. (v. 19)  "Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their ways are His delight." (v. 20)  The wicked will eventually face judgement, but not only will the righteous be rewarded, the posterity of the righteous will share in these rewards. (v. 21)  The righteous may not prosper materially, but their reward is eternal, their treasures are in heaven "where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Mt. 6:20)

All scripture quotations from the NKJV.   

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Audio Impressions

I'm finished with political posts on this blog for the time being.  Now comes the task of listening to all the audio posts saved in my inbox since 5/09, starting with the James White/Michael Brown debate on Calvinism.  The 2 part debate, each part less than 40 minutes each, was on Dr. Brown's radio program "The Line of Fire." The debate was cordial, as was the third episode (mostly) in which Calvinists called in to Dr. Brown's program.  This was the first time I had heard Dr. White speak.  He is a skilled debater, yet his arguement for Calvinist theology failed to live up to the principle both participants agreed to: good theolgy is always preceded by good Biblical exegesis.  White's scriptural analysis was faulty concerning the scripture passages he used to present his case.  For instance, he cited the example of God preventing Abimelech from sinning by having relations with Abraham's wife Sarah. (Gen. 20:1-7) White cited this as proof that human sin is not a choice but these choices are willed by God to further His purposes and bring Himself glory.  As Brown points out, Abimelech did not know Sarah was married and so acted with a clear conscience. (v. 5-6)   The passage also demonstrates that God gave Abimelech a clear choice whether to obey Him or not. (v.7) White stated that when the Old Testament High Priest made atonement for the people, he was only making atonement for Israel, not for the surrounding nations. White asks, "Does Jesus as our high priest make atonement for all, or only those that are His?"  White believes that the Old Testament model of the High Priest is evidence for Limited Atonement.  He fails to mention that the Law had provision for those who wished to join the nation of Israel if they chose to do so.  Christ, our High Priest, has commanded us to pray for workers to gather in lost souls.  Dr. Brown effectively answered White, yet I wish in part 1 that he emphasized the effect of the Fall on Man more when describing Man.

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

Linked from Kevin Jackson's Wesleyan Arminian blog.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Choices For Conservatives In 2012

Now that the mid-term elections are over, the race for the Republican Presidential nomination begins in earnest.  Who appears as the best choice at such an early date?

Many name Mitt Romney as the current front runner.  Yet it is doubtful that he could gain the support of Tea Party conservatives.  He may have valuable experience in the private sector, but his support for the Massachusettes health care plan which was enacted while he was governor should make conservatives think twice about supporting him.  He was a Republican governor in a Democratic state; this caused him to compromise with the Democrat majority.  Has the experience solidified the habit of compromise in Romney so that he would cooperate with the Democrats in pushing their agenda if he were President? I would not be the only Conservative asking this question.  If Romney were to get the nomination, conservative support may be lacking, which could lead to a Democrat victory in the general election.  Romney was a more viable alternative in 2008.  I voted for him in the primary; I was not about to vote for McCain.  But this time around, nominating him may lead to a failure to regain the White House.

Mike Huckabee may cause damage to the conservative cause.  I wouldn't label him as a conservative, but he could siphon off enough votes from a viable conservative candidate that could lead to a moderate winning the nomination.  He himself has little chance of winning the nomination, but he could cause harmful division within conservative ranks. This is a greater danger if the Republicans fail to close their primaries to cross-over voters who want to sabotage the Republicans by saddling them with a nominee who can't win in the general election.

Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is touted by some as a conservative with enough experience to get support from voters.  However, he comes off as very shallow to me.  He says he would run on his biography, how he rose from humble origins.  Yet this seems to indicate that his view of the average voter is one who responds to impressions rather than content.  One lesson to heed from the mid-terms is that voters have become more concerned over a candidate's positions on issues rather than their impressions.  I don't think Pawlenty will get any traction.

Neither will Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, get any traction with his statements that Republicans should abandon social issues and concentrate solely on economics.

Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio are rising stars, but it is probably too early in their careers for them to consider a 2012 run.  I like Jindal, but I am not sure he could connect with people.

That leaves Sarah Palin. Yes, she has negatives, but I think she could overcome them, especially if she was running against an unpopular Democrat incumbent like Obama or Hillary Clinton.  While she is sometimes inarticulate, so was Bush and that didn't stop him from winning.  Yet she still has a rhetorical ability to advocate conservative policies so that she inspires as well as informs.  I see no such ability among other possible contenders.  At this point, the only viable candidate for the conservative voters who gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives, is Palin.  As for me, she is the only one I could trust to govern conservatively, not just in economic matters, but on social issues as well.  The only person I could consider as a viable choice other than Palin is Rick Santorum, if he would choose to run.    

Reagan Anniversary

Today as I continue to recover from my experience as a poll worker on election day, I am taking time to take note that today is the 30th anniversary of a great day: the election of Ronald Reagan.  So many think that the current economic slump is the worse economy since the Great Depression.  Not so.  Many are now too young to remember the double digit unemployment rate, the double digit inflation rate and the double digit interest rates of the Jimmy Carter years.  Conventional wisdom at the time was that our problems were simply to big and the world too complex for any solution.  Most Conservatives were convinced that the Soviet Union would win the Cold War.  Many are simply too young to understand the pessimism that reigned in the U.S. prior to Reagan's election.  They simply have no way of knowing just how much of a difference Reagan made.  And he made that difference  with a Republican Senate when more Republicans were moderate and the Democrats held the House.  This should be a message of how Conservatism can defeat the Liberal establishment even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Chris Christie has proved this in New Jersey.  With the House now in Republican hands, lets hope the Republicans will not be lured into thinking Conservatism cannot win the day.