Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Theological Stories of 2009

Colin Hanson at Christianity Today weighs in on what he feels are the top theological stories of 2009. The SBC and the ELCA are among notables as well as names such as Rob Bell and Rick Warren. Some of the listed events are encouraging while others are deeply disheartening.


Pray for 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Amazon's Commentary on Culture

If you want to see a great commentary on our culture, take a look at Amazon's 100 Best Books of 2009: Customer Bestsellers.

Here are a few observations from the list:

  • The largest genre of books are those concerning weight loss.
  • Glenn Beck has two books in the top twenty.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is number 13.
  • Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth is number 68.
  • Bruce Metzger's successor, Bart Ehrman, managed to slip another irrelevant historical Jesus book onto the list at 82.
  • Self-help books seem to still be popular. As long as people have problems, they will buy these by the truckload.
  • Three Cups of Tea is probably the only book that I would read from this list, although I would probably not read the young reader's edition which is the only version that made the list.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gift Goes On

The lyrics to "The Gift Goes On" remind me of the Filioque Controversy. This probably was not Sandi Patti's intention.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Are Small

And this video shows just how small you are.



Even a small understanding of what the video is communicating brings the magnitude of God's transcendence and the beauty of his imminence into light.

A Question John Piper Never Asked Himself

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day

Can you learn something new every day before you learn that you learn something new every day?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Worship

We had a Christmas worship service at church tonight. Rebekah sang in the choir and I am happy to report that she got all the words right.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Uganda, Rick Warren, and the Media

Rick Warren got himself in hot water with the secular media by not speaking out immediately against Ugandan anti-gay laws. Foreign Policy did a short web piece titled "Rick Warren finally speaks out against Ugandan anti-gay law." They called the incident a hit on his credibility.

Rick Warren posted this video and a brief refutation of the rumors surrounding this topic.



The details aside, I only have one question. How did Rick Warren even get himself in this situation where the media is on his tail so often?

I understand that he is a big spokesperson for the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa and it is his "role to speak out on moral issues" and not his "role to interfere with the politics of other nations." But the media doesn't make that distinction. Especially when you host political debates in your church and pray at presidential inaugurations. I know he said "other" nations, but getting involved in politics is getting involved in politics; in a global world, Uganda's problems become Rick Warren's problems.

The media always misconstrues things; we can all agree on that. I think Rick Warren's conclusions concerning the anti-gay laws in Uganda are correct (although I think some of his reasoning is faulty). It's the quickness of the media to get on Rick Warren that concerns me. I fear he brought at least a little of it on himself.

Foreign Policy claimed this incident hurt Rick Warren's credibility. The fact that Rick Warren had credibility with Foreign Policy to begin with is the root of the problem.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009

My Favorite Show

Fringe. It's a throwback sci-fi show with a stellar story line. Not to mention J.J. Abrams is a genius.



It's an experiment in awesome.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Riders of Fauxhan

My bro-in-law and I made some music this weekend. We call ourselves the "Riders of Fauxhan." Check it out and download it if you like...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blogging Sabbatical

I am sending myself on blogging sabbatical. This week has been about papers and homework so far, tomorrow we are heading to Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving with Rebekah's family, and then we have finals week.

I had hoped to finish my "Christians and Alcohol" series, but recently I have found myself discouraged by the endeavor for various reasons. If it works out, I will draw some conclusions in a couple of weeks.


See you soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Abstinence Is Not Righteousness

So far we have looked briefly at our context concerning alcohol, what is and what is not sin concerning alcohol, and the fact that Christians must consider their brothers and sisters higher than their right to drink alcohol.

In "Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin" I mentioned that there is an instance where Mark Drisoll's scenario would be valid. To remind you of the situation, he was "studying the Scriptures for a sermon about Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine, as reported in John's gospel, a miracle that Jesus performed when he was about my age. My Bible study convicted me of my sin of abstinence from alcohol. So in repentance I drank a hard cider over lunch with our worship pastor."

Alright, we already showed that not drinking alcohol at face-value is definitely not a sin. That notion is totally unfounded. But there is another dimension to consider: the dimension of self-righteousness.

[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

There are some among us who abstain from alcohol and consider themselves righteous because of it. This is silly. And I do not want this to be a point you gloss over. If you exalt yourself, even in your own heart, because you abstain from alcohol, you are in sin.

Now, the proper response is not to go and drink a hard cider like Driscoll; that will absolve you of approximately nothing. Rather, the proper response would be to repent; ask God to lay your heart bare and uproot the self-righteousess that you may have concerning alcohol. If having a drink of alcohol will help remove this self-righteousness, so be it (just make sure to consider those around you as we have already talked about). But again, the act does not justify you; your heart before God is what is important here.

This is not a secondary issue when discussing alcohol. I think this is just as rampant as not considering a fellow believer before imbibing alcohol. Consider your heart. Like I asserted in "Reacting and Relating," "are you seeking to follow Christ at every turn or, like the rich young ruler, are you not quite willing to give up some things?" For some of us, the thing we might not be willing to give up may be our "right" to drink alcohol in certain circumstances; for others of us, it may be our self-righteousness in abstaining from it.


____________________________
Earlier in this series:
Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin
Christians and Alcohol: Reacting and Relating
Christians and Alcohol: The Corinthian Matrix

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Allotment of Grace

Today I was reflecting on the life of Charles Spurgeon and I asked myself if I have the capacity to fight battles on multiple fronts in the way that he did.


The answer is no.

But the question and the response are irrelevant. My capacity--and Spurgeon's for that matter--to do anything comes from God and an allotment of his grace, not my striving. So, if it would please God, I someday will have the capacity; but for right now I will bathe in his gospel of grace.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

T Pain and the President

Auto-tuning stuff is sweet.

Christians and Alcohol: Sources So Far

I will get back to the discussion of Christians and alcohol this weekend, but some people have inquired about my sources. I was going to compile them all at the end, but I will give you what I have used thus far.


I have cited all of my Scripture from the ESV.

"In Context"
Alcohol stats:
"Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin"
Driscoll quote:
Water to wine ratio:
"The Corinthian Matrix"

____________________________
Earlier in this series:
Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin
Christians and Alcohol: Reacting and Relating
Christians and Alcohol: The Corinthian Matrix

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: The Corinthian Matrix

In light of yesterday's post I would like to offer this as a helpful tool.

Daniel Akin has produced an excellent resource for determining a proper response in any ethical situation within the Christian context. He calls it the Corinthian Matrix. It is based on texts between 1 Corinthians 6:12-13:13 and it consists of ten simple questions.
  1. Will this action be helpful to me?
    “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. -1 Cor 6:12

    “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. -1 Cor 10:23

  2. Will this action potentially enslave me?
    “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. -1 Cor 6:12

  3. Will this action encourage my brother or sister in Christ?
    Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. - 1 Cor 8:13

    Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
    -1 Cor 10:24
    Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God. -1 Cor 10:32

  4. Will this action help or hinder my gospel witness?
    If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. -1 Cor 9:12

    Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
    -1 Cor 10:32-33

  5. Is this action consistent with my new life in Christ?
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. -1 Cor 6:9-11

    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own. -1 Cor 6:19

  6. Will this action violate my conscience?
    Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? -1 Cor 10:25-29

  7. Will this action follow the pattern of the life of Jesus?
    Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. -1 Cor 11:1

  8. Will this action show love to others?
    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. -1 Cor 13:1-3

  9. Will this action honor my body, which belongs to God?
    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. -1 Cor 6:19-20

  10. Will this action glorify God?
    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. -1 Cor 10:31
_____________________________
Earlier in this series:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Reacting and Relating

I had every intention of getting this post up on Friday; I even started writing. But I didn't finish. Thanks again for your patience.

Alright. So far we have looked at how our context views alcohol and the personal sin that is associated with consuming or abstaining from alcohol.

In light of our previous discussion, let's talk about how Christians should react to alcohol and relate to other Christians if they themselves are drinking alcohol or they see other Christians drinking alcohol.

Many Christians weigh their experience concerning alcohol prior to their acknowledging of Scripture. This can be detrimental. There is no reason why, as Christians, we should ever appeal to experience prior to Scripture. So, often times there will be a Christian who says, "Well, I've never abused alcohol" as a justification for drinking and another Christian who says, "If you had the experiences that I have had, you wouldn't drink alcohol either." Neither of these statements should carry weight for the Christian in reacting to alcohol.

As we saw in our last discussion, drinking alcohol is not a sin, but drunkenness is. This is the objective truth concerning alcohol for the believer based on Scripture. Experience does not govern these thing.

But there is an aspect of the alcohol conversation that we must consider which is based on experience; not the experience of the individual consuming alcohol, but the experience of those who might see that individual consuming alcohol. There are Christians around us who have been deeply affected by alcohol; alcohol may have torn their family apart or even their own life. It is absolutely imperative that we, as Christians, seek the needs of others over our needs. What we can and cannot do concerning alcohol and what constitutes sin for the individual does not trump the consideration we must have for our brothers and sisters. These fellow believers may or may not understand the objective truth concerning alcohol expressed in Scripture, but the understanding of objective truth does not remove the fact that there may be deep emotions tied to the subject of alcohol. We are commanded to be like Christ and therefore must emulate his servant attitude in this. Paul writes,

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Therefore:
  1. It is not sin for the Christian to drink alcohol.
  2. It is sin for the Christian to drink to the point of drunkenness.
  3. (1) and (2) are objective truth, based on Scripture.
  4. It is wrong not to consider those around us when engaging in what may be a very sensitive issue because by not considering those around us we may be causing them to sin. Let us resolve like Paul "if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble" (1 Cor 8:13).
If you are willing to die on a hill for your right to drink alcohol, it is time to evaluate yourself and your motives. Are you seeking to follow Christ at every turn or, like the rich young ruler, are you not quite willing to give up some things? I pray it's the former.

In conclusion, we are inclined to say that our reaction to alcohol must be based on objective biblical truth. We also must say that our relation to others must exceed any right that we may think we have concerning alcohol. We cannot drill our brothers and sisters in Christ saying, "Drinking alcohol isn't a sin;" this would not be putting their needs higher than our own. Sure, consuming alcohol is not prohibited in Scripture; this does not give Christians warrant to forget the second great commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 22:39). Unfortunately many do.

In the next post I will give a tool that I have found to be helpful in practically living out some of the themes expressed here. Also, in the near future we will discuss further the idea of abstinence from alcohol as sin.

_____________________________
Earlier in this series:
Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin

Friday, November 13, 2009

300

This is the 300th post in the life of this blog; maybe not a major milestone, but a milestone nonetheless.


Thanks for reading!

Twenty-Nine Years Ago...

...this was pretty sweet.



But now we have this:




Oh, and P.S.: The same guy who plays Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films is Hades in this remake. Outstanding.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Interlude

If you have been following my "Christians and Alcohol" series, I am sure you are checking your feed-reader every five minutes awaiting the next installment.

Unfortunately, this week has been very busy and I have not had a chance to do much thinking, let alone writing. I will resume the discussion in the very near future. Thank you for your patience.

If you haven't read any of the posts in the series yet, now is your time to catch up.

Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin
Look for the next installment on Friday.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin

This post is almost unnecessary, but I don't want to take anything for granted in this discussion. So, before we press on we need to address what immediate individual sin is, or what implications drinking has on the Christian actually imbibing alcohol.

It has been said from time to time that simply consuming alcohol is a sin. This view is invalid according to Scripture as displayed by this syllogism:

  1. The Bible states that Jesus was sinless.
  2. Jesus drank alcohol.
  3. Drinking alcohol is not a sin.
Of course this logic presupposes that the Bible is true, but keep in mind this discussion series is titled "Christians and Alcohol" and if an individual does not believe that Christ is without sin it is hardly possible for that individual to be a Christian.

It is also clear in Scripture that drunkenness is a sin.
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, consuming alcohol is not a sin, but consuming too much is considered a fleshy pursuit. These are simple biblical truths.

But what about abstaining from alcohol?

According to Mark Driscoll, he was "studying the Scriptures for a sermon about Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine, as reported in John's gospel, a miracle that Jesus performed when he was about my age. My Bible study convicted me of my sin of abstinence from alcohol. So in repentance I drank a hard cider over lunch with our worship pastor."

There are situations where abstaining from alcohol is a sin (I will discuss this later; just hold on) and to be fair I do not know exactly how Driscoll means his abstinence was sinful. But at face-value, this statement is silly (I will discuss the deeper interpretation as well; just hold on). It is silly for this reason: wine was the primary drink in the ancient context in which Jesus lived.

(This is good to note before I go further: the wine in John's gospel and in the rest of the New Testament was approximately 3 parts water, 1 part wine. The average individual would have to consume 22 glasses of wine to get drunk. Bladders tend to fill up before you get to that 22nd glass. Hard cider contains a much larger amount of alcohol than ancient wine.)

Wine in the ancient context was the drink of choice for the whole of the population. It is clear that it was a cultural norm. Our observations from the previous post shows us that our culture does not view alcohol in the same way that Jesus' culture viewed it. This ancient wine, if you want to call the diluted mixture that, was as much a staple of culture as wearing sandals. But Driscoll doesn't think that walking around in biker-boots or barefoot is a sin. Abstinence from alcohol in this sense is definitely not a sin.

There are intangibles at work here. This discussion is only a small piece of the pie. Remember the reaction and relation I discussed at the end of the last post? That is where we are going next.

_____________________________
Earlier in this series:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: In Context

I think before going any further in the discussion about Christians and alcohol it would be good to take a look at some statistics concerning alcohol consumption in our country. I know that stats can be used to manipulate an audience, but I am not seeking out the most shocking stats to promote a bias; rather I am compiling some data to draw a conclusion about our current context which will prove important later in the discussion.

  • Last year 22,073 individual died alcohol-induced deaths, not including accidents or homicide.
  • 32% of motor vehicle fatalities are a result of a BAC of over .08.
  • 1 in 3 families suspect at least one family member to be abusing alcohol.
  • 40 million Americans admit to having an alcohol problem at one point in their life.
  • Abuse of alcohol costs the U.S. $100 billion each year in quantifiable costs.
  • 15% of adolescents (12-17) consume alcohol at least once a month.
  • 66% of underage drinkers (12-20) report a legal adult giving or buying them alcohol.
  • 1 in 5 high school seniors and college freshman "party" 6 or more hours per week which involves alcohol.
This is strictly a random sampling of statistics from alcoholstats.com and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course stats don't speak for the intangibles like psychological and emotional issues. I know some people who have been directly affected by alcohol abuse in their immediate families. Each person adjusts differently and it is therefore hard to make any statements in this area.

I think that it is safe to say this in regards to the U.S. alcohol scene: alcohol is popular and is, at times, abused. There are other assertions I can make, but absolute statements are unnecessary to the furtherance of our discussion.

I will point this out though. The view of alcohol in the U.S. is much different than other contexts. In our culture, a certain level of rebelliousness is associated with the imbibing of alcohol while in, say, Europe it's just what you drink with your meal. (I am not saying that it is not abused in Europe. That is not my point. My point is simply the view of alcohol.)

This data is relevant and irrelevant for the next portion of consideration. It is relevant in the way that many Christians react to alcohol and how many Christians relate to one another, and irrelevant in the way that Christians should react to alcohol and how Christians should relate to one another. But we will digest that further later.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena

Christians talk about alcohol a lot. Unfortunately, most of the conversation is stupid and, at times, sinful. Hence, I am going to take the next few days and address the primary issues swirling around Christians and alcohol.

In the recent weeks I have done a significant amount of reading on what others think about this topic and have engaged in introspection and self-evaluation concerning the matter of alcohol in my own Christian life. Therefore, I desire to prompt introspection and self-evaluation, not evaluation of others.

With that in mind, there will be times where I will quote some individuals who I think are wrong about certain areas of the issue and will argue against them. There are a lot of people spouting off on the internet right now about this topic. But from what I see they mostly fall into one of two camps:

  1. The young alcohol consumer who is on the fringes of the emerging church looking to justify their imbibing of alcohol. They are skeptical of truth claims, but instead of throwing in as a true postmodern they seek to reason this topic to death with their modern counterparts (who are having none of it).
  2. The individual directly affected by alcoholism in some capacity. They usually are honest with the data but when it comes to drawing a conclusion they walk off the mountain of evidence they compiled and stand somewhere else on the continuum.
Again, these are just the groups of people making noise. There are other views and I will address them briefly as well.

I hope this will be beneficial. I had qualms about taking on alcohol in Christian culture, but there is so much at stake here, throwing in on the conversation seems nearly imperative.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Perspectives on the Prosperity Gospel

Here are two videos that help with an understanding of the prosperity gospel. This corruption of the true gospel is alive and well in our backyard and is exploiting people in poor contexts across the world. Awareness of this false gospel should profoundly impact the Christian's missiological perspective. Take a look.



Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tischendorf and Sinaiticus

In 1859 Constantin von Tischendorf visited, for the third time, St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. His first trip to the monastic community in 1844 was slightly successful while his second, in 1853, was fruitless.

Tischendorf was Indiana Jones one hundred years before the Indiana Jones trilogy was set. He was on a quest to discover ancient manuscripts of the Greek Bible in hopes of compiling them according to the discipline known as textual criticism, a process initiated by Erasmus three hundred years earlier.

When Tischendorf arrived at St. Catherine's for the first time in 1844 he made a disheartening discovery: a large amount of parchment, considered rubbish, was in a waste-basket in queue to start fires. The "rubbish" was actually an early manuscript of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Tischendorf attempted to save the parchment, but tipped his hand and the monks, understanding that Tischendorf viewed these ancient documents as valuable, only allowed him to take a one third of the "rubbish."

Tischendorf did not return to St. Catherine's until 1853, seeking to complete the set he had begun collecting nine years earlier. But his trip was insuccessful.

Then on January 31, 1859, Tischendorf made a final visit to the monastic community by request of the Czar of Russia, Alexander II. Tischendorf arrived and, like his 1853 experience, found nothing. Then, after he resolved to leave the monastery, he made an incredible discovery. Tischendorf recorded his finding on February 4, 1859:


"On the afternoon of this day I was taking a walk with the steward of the convent in the neighbourhood, and as we returned, towards sunset, he begged me to take some refreshment with him in his cell. Scarcely had he entered the room, when, resuming our former subject of conversation, he said: "And I, too, have read a Septuagint"—i.e. a copy of the Greek translation made by the Seventy. And so saying, he took down from the corner of the room a bulky kind of volume, wrapped up in a red cloth, and laid it before me. I unrolled the cover, and discovered, to my great surprise, not only those very fragments which, fifteen years before, I had taken out of the basket, but also other parts of the Old Testament, the New Testament complete, and, in addition, the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of the Shepherd of Hermas."


This was what would become known as Codex Sinaiticus, arguably the most important Greek manuscript of the New Testament (not to mention parts of the Septuagint and Apostolic Fathers) to this day.

Tischendorf spent all night reading it for he thought that he held in his hands a great treasure. And he had found a great treasure indeed.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Storm Chaser

You know those jobs that when you were a kid you thought were sweet but never pursued because they just didn't seem viable?


Storm Chaser falls in that category for me.



Sunday, November 01, 2009

Google Chrome

I like Google Chrome. Among many other perks, it's not gray.

Click through and watch this video on YouTube for an extra-special experience.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Branded

By resisting a brand, churches brand themselves. Here is an example from the belief statement on the website of Jacob's Well Church in Kansas City:

"The Apostles' Creed gives a summary of the doctrinal commitments of this community. However, we do not think the best way to know what we believe is to read it off a page. We believe the best way to determine what someone, or some group of people, believe is to watch them -- or better yet, join them and discover it from the inside. When we are handed a sheet of paper or click on a link with a list of statements, we believe that something vital is short-circuited. More than that, we become a brand: "Oh, you're 'that' kind of Christian/church." We are a brand culture. We don't want to be a brand church. We are a community of people seeking to follow Jesus in faith and freedom."


It doesn't take much of an imagination to figure out how this church--despite their objections to being branded--is branded.

Wallpapers

I made a wallpaper. I am sharing it with you.



Just click on the image, click "download", and then save the image...

Also check out the Don't Waste Your Life wallpapers. Those are cooler than mine.

Friday, October 30, 2009

This Week in Chapel

The Chapel services here at SBTS this week were particularly strong. I would highly recommend both of them.

Firstly, Dr. James Hamilton gives a stern warning concerning sexual sin in the life of the believer drawing from the transgression of David in 2 Samuel 11.



Secondly, Pastor David Prince discusses the importance of looking at the believer's role in the Christian community properly using 1 Peter 2 as his primary text.



As we say in Kentucky, both men cleared a spot and pitched a fit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Acceptable Words and Meditations

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

-Psalm 19:7-14


How does one ensure that the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart are pleasing to the Lord? By grounding himself in the Word of God.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

That's a real sentence. No joke. Wikipedia and William J. Rapaport say so. And I believe them.

Clear Off A Spot

Apparently a popular idiom in the South is "clear off a spot and pitch a fit," although I am unaware of what context such a thing would be said.

If you have some insight a comment would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Don't Watch the Show, But...

...the final segment of Community is worth a trip to Hulu to watch.





You Can Be Plural

Why do so many people feel like they must indicate the plurality of the second person pronoun "you" when referring to groups?

You guys, you all, y'all.

Just "you" is perfectly acceptable.

And don't get me started on the possessive form.

Your guyses? Y'all's? Really?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

English Language Day

I am quite upset that I missed out on English Language Day. It was yesterday.

The English language has such a rich and diverse history; I encourage you to read about that which was arguably the most influential event in our language's history: the Norman conquest of England in 1066. If you are interested further, check out The Stories of English by David Crystal.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kevin and Jill vs. Jim and Pam

No offense to the folks who thought this up; it's incredibly creative. Personally though, I thought it was really lame.



Then I watched this rendition and I cried.

Facebook Photo Album Titles

Titles of Facebook photo albums commonly exhibit these qualities:

  • Excessive Punctuation: this usually is manifested in lots of exclamation points. For example: "Fun!!!" or "Wedding!!!" Less frequently, but not uncommon, is only punctuation with an occasional letter. Ex: ";) ;) ;)" or ":P :P :P"
  • Country Music Songs: "Days Go By" seems to be used most frequently, but other titles like "Ring of Fire" and "Wide Open Spaces" can be stumbled upon.
  • Loaded Words: "Amazing" and "Adventure" are used quite a bit. A quick perusal of the photos will indicate that the captured moments are neither amazing nor an adventure.
  • Unorthodox Capital Letter Usage: this tactic is employed to spice up uncreative titles. For example: "hOMecoMiNg '09" or "iOWa TRiP."
  • Uncatergorized: often times albums are labeled "Random" or "Misc," but upon further inspection they prove to be people taking 279 pictures of themselves and one or two other people sitting on a couch or lying on a bed making strange faces in celebration of the new digital camera they bought online and probably overpaid for. Usually people who are not actually in the photos are tagged because the photographer wants to subliminally say "wish you were here" without entirely offending the other parties in the photograph by making them think they are no fun. This often times leads to an escalating series of events in which the subjects submerge themselves in the morally relativistic culture and fall into the trap of naming future facebook albums using the aforementioned techniques.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Foreword Thinking

The easiest way to get your name on the cover of a book is to write a foreword. And you don't even have to be an expert on what the book is about; you just have to say some nice things about the book and its author then shamelessly plug your own work.

I am going to make business cards that say:

Caleb Drahosh
Foreword Writer

Maybe I'll win some free lunches along the way.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My 401k

I decided to retire. I cashed out my 401k and bought some books: BDAG, 1-3 John, Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek, and Adopted for Life.


A sound investment. And money left over to help with rent.

Tree of the Week

Ok, I know I said I was discontinuing this portion of the blog, but this tree is too cool to not bring back the "Tree of the Week" for one last hurrah.



Read more about this tree and others like it at National Geographic.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Turn Off Your Cell Phones...

...or you may have Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig telling you to pick up during their Broadway show, A Steady Rain.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Did I Really Just Do That?

I just had a "did I really just do that?" moment:

I took the trash out wearing socks and flip-flops.

Changing Translations

I have often asked this question: if someday I am a pastor, how will I address particular subtle changes that may be a point of stumbling for a portion of the congregation?

In this video, John Piper is asked about changing from KJV to a more contemporary translation. I found the principles communicated in his answer, although brief, to be helpful in answering the question that I posed at the outset.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Doug Wilson talks Collision

Here is a nice follow up to yesterday's post.

Last night Doug Wilson spoke at the Desiring God National Conference about the debate between himself and Christopher Hitchens. This may be a more helpful tool for those who have actually watched the documentary, but you can always come back to this interview once you watch the film.

Again, Collision is due out October 27.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hitchens vs Wilson

I am excited to watch this:



Collision is due to be released on October 27; you can pre-order it at Amazon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A.T. Robertson and Charles Simeon

Seventy-five years ago today A.T. Robertson died, but not before leaving his imprint on the history of New Testament scholarship. Robertson was arguably The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's most prolific professor. His classes are legend here at Southern and his influence was wide-spread. His Shorter Grammar was the favorite of Pope John XXIII and congregations across the United States eagerly awaited his arrival to hear him preach. The tragedy of Robertson's life was his inability to engage his own family; his daughter was an agnostic and his son never expressed interest in Spiritual things. It is a stern warning concerning the family life of the proclaimers of God's Word.

Also on this day, 250 years ago, Charles Simeon was born. Simeon is a hero of mine as he was the model of perseverance. He served in the same church for fifty-four years many of which were marked by an extreme dislike for him by his congregation. When asked why he did not move on from the hostile situation Simeon would point to the fact that God simply did not provide any other options. Simeon's persistence and faithfulness to God's Word and to the calling God gave him is an incredible testimony. I identify with Simeon as his early years proved him a prideful man; God clearly had a plan to uproot the sin by giving him such a difficult post.

I would encourage you to seek biographical information on each of these men as their lives can teach us so much about the faithfulness of God.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Testimony of God's Work in My Life

Some of you may know how I came to Christ and others may not. And since I recently had to write up my testimony for class, I thought it would be a good opportunity to let you all know how it happened.

Although my personal testimony is not particularly riveting, I have come to understand that it is only by the grace of God that my conversion ever could have happened. All testimonies speak to the power of God because humanity is rooted in sin and not one individual is able to choose God unassisted. The inward condition is manifested differently in each person. My depravity was so radical and my rebellion so great, yet God raised me and gave me new life. That is the miracle of my conversion and all others.

I struggled greatly throughout my early life, desiring to be accepted by those around me. I was loved deeply by my family, but I was a social outcast at school. I found some acceptance at church, but unfortunately through people. I was born into the Lutheran Church, but my family began attending an Evangelical Free Church after my parents got saved. Here I had friendships that waxed and waned, but always seemed to end in a flippant manner. Nevertheless, it was the most acceptance I had outside the home.

It was then that my family experienced probably our greatest trial. My parents decided to separate for a time while they addressed some issues. I saw the security that I felt at home melt away. I only saw my dad on weekends and my mom was less than stable. Also during this time we left our church. My dad began attending another Evangelical Free Church while my mom took my sister and me irregularly to a Baptist church not too far from our house. I did not enjoy either church as I was frustrated with my life circumstances.

By the grace of God my parents rejoined. I started middle school and my family began attending the Evangelical Free church my dad had connected with while my parents were separated. I longed for a new situation to maybe find some security and acceptance. I was disappointed. I began looking for acceptance in different places; in sports, academics, and music. I did not find it.

I started high school and it was more of the same. I was successful by worldly standards. I had a good number of friends for the first time in my life, I played three different sports, I was gifted musically, but I was still empty. I got frustrated and became more and more prideful. If I was good at the things the world said I should be good at, why was I not accepted by it? I determined that it was not me who had the problem, but everyone else. The roots of pride grew deep into the recesses of my heart during this time.

From that point forward I did everything out of selfish pursuit. I found a girlfriend. She liked me and I liked her, or at least I liked the way that I felt around her. I felt accepted, but it was a fa├žade. She hurt me deeply multiple times, but I returned repeatedly to this broken cistern.

I graduated from high school still empty, thinking I had found something in my current relationship. I moved away from home and began attending North Dakota State University. Shortly thereafter the relationship that I had put so much stock in ended. I was broken and stripped of what I thought was fulfilling me. It was then that I was positioned to experience the life-giving power of Jesus Christ.

My conversion was a simple realization. I was utterly wretched, there was nothing good in me, and I needed to be saved. Earlier in life I had heard the gospel, but I never really responded. I had prayed a prayer and rededicated my life multiple times, but never had I grasped the gravity of it. It was here, on my own for the first time at college, that I knew there was never any security or acceptance in the things that I had sought. The wrath of God was on me and I deserved to be separate from him. My heart was rebellious and I needed reconciliation. I cried out to God and he saved me. Christ’s work on the cross meant acceptance by God and eternity with him. Christ became the most beautiful thing to me.

After I experienced conversion my freshmen year in college, my life was transformed. Jesus Christ changed my life in so many ways; I will give but a few.

Firstly, my life has been marked by a love of Scripture. I have a passion for God’s Word. Before my conversion I saw little need for reading a really old book that did not seem to be relevant to my life circumstances. After my conversion I began to see that Scripture is the primary way which God speaks to us.

Secondly, my life has been marked by a love of people. The relationships that I experienced prior to my conversion where mostly geared at fulfilling a need that I had. Now the relationships that I have with my wife, my family, and my friends are in the fellowship of Christ. The gospel changed the way that I view the others in my life.

Thirdly, my life has been marked by a removal of self. I went to college seeking a good job with an inflated salary which included comfort and an early retirement. In Christ my life has taken a whole new direction. I am seeking education to be a full-time minister of God’s Word, which does not pay well, will not be comfortable, and will not allow for retirement. There is no other option. God has given me so much; I want my life to proclaim him, not me.

Finally, my life has been marked by joy. Fighting for joy has been one of the biggest struggles in my new life. I am naturally cynical and somewhat cold. But as I continue to study Scripture and understand the weight of the gospel, joy comes more and more easily. How could I let anything rob the joy that comes with the knowledge of redemption?

I am so grateful that God plucked me from my situation and gave me new life. The compassion he showed me and continues to show me is unfathomable.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Portable Cheese? Shut Up!

One of my all time favorites.

A Test

I just took my first test in seminary. It went well. I am relieved.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Than Raking Leaves

Raking leaves (social action) does not constitute a Gospel presentation; the physical needs of humanity pale in comparison to the depravity of the human heart and its need to be quickened. In Mark 2 Jesus recognizes this and goes right for the jugular; he proclaims that he is the Christ, the God-man, he has the power to forgive sins, and that humanity, no matter what its physical state, needs forgiveness of sins first and foremost.

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Inadequate

Inadequate. That is how I feel. There are so many questions and I have so few answers.

Good thing my adequacy is non-existent; otherwise I might fall victim to self-esteem.


For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

"So God's grace is the source of every blessing that we have as Christians. Truly, as Jesus said, "apart from me you can do nothing." We have nothing that we have not received. Even our response to his grace is given by grace. When God saves us, he takes way every possible ground of boasting. All the praise and glory belongs to him."
-John Frame, The Doctrine of God


Think you have something to boast about or possess some form of adequacy apart from God? Take a look at him and think again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Verses for Evangelism

In my Personal Evangelism course here at Southern we are required to memorize 40 key verses for evangelism. I have found the list to be quite helpful, so I thought I would pass it on.

Scripture is so important in evangelism; since we claim it to be the ultimate authority in our lives, using it in our witness only makes sense. I would encourage you to adopt this list or a similar list to memorize as together we seek to be obedient proclaimers of the Gospel of Christ.

God
Psalms 19:1
Revelation 4:11
Matthew 22:37-38
Leviticus 19:2

Rebellion
Isaiah 59:2
Isaiah 53:6
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
Hebrews 9:27
Matthew 10:28

Atonement
John 3:16
Luke 19:10
Romans 5:8
1 Peter 2:24
Isaiah 53:5
1 Peter 3:18
2 Corinthians 5:21
John 3:36

Conversion
John 3:3
John 1:12
Acts 16:31
Romans 10:9
Romans 10:13
Matthew 11:28
John 14:6
Acts 4:12
Luke 13:3
Isaiah 55:7
1 John 1:9
Isaiah 1:18
2 Corinthians 6:2
Revelation 3:20
Ephesians 2:8-9

Eternal Life
John 10:10
John 6:37
1 John 5:12-13
Romans 8:16
John 5:24
2 Corinthians 5:17
2 Timothy 1:12

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 12, 2001

Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11/01. It was a day that altered history. But I remember 9/12/01 almost as vividly.

It was the day when the questions that I was too numb to form the day before began to take shape in my mind. Who would do this? How could something like this happen? Is this reality? It was the day I began to seek understanding.

Nothing earth-shattering happened on 9/12/01. It was just the beginning of a slow digestion process that we still feel the effects of today, eight years later.


The front page of the New York Times, 9/12/01

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Only Burned-Over Area

Taken from Tell the Truth by Will Metzger

The fire of God's wrath has touched down at one particular point in history. And when it did, it utterly consumed a man as he hung on a cross. It did not burn a large area, but finalized God's work of judgment. The fire of God's wrath will come again in history. This time it will consume the whole earth. Will there be any place to hide? Only on the hill where that cross stood, where the fire has already burned. A person is forgiven if he identifies with Christ who on the cross bore God's judgment for sins. Jesus Christ is our burned-over area, the only safe hiding place.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

After One Month of Seminary...

... I now know for certain that I know nothing.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Being a Just Man..."

So, yesterday in my Greek Exegesis class we were discussing participles which express cause.

Look at these two verses.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

I will spare you all the details of the discussion, but the portion I will highlight is in the second sentence where Matthew states "being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame." "Being" and "unwilling" are the participles.

The discussion was surrounding Matthew's usage of the term "just" or another possible rendering, "righteous." The professor said that Matthew was eluding to the fact that Joseph's "being just" or "being righteous" was imported from beyond Joseph himself.

One of my fellow students raised his hand and asked how a conclusion like that could be drawn; was it not simply possible for Joseph to be a "good guy?"

My professor replied by stating that it would not have been unrighteous or unjust for Joseph to divorce Mary publicly, which at the worst would have left Mary to be stoned and at the best would have meant she could never marry. This would not have made Joseph a "bad guy." According to the law it was the just thing to do. So this means that Matthew indicates something different when he writes about Joseph "being a just man."

Joseph's righteousness consisted of more elements than just following the law; it included grace and forgiveness focused at an individual.

Something to think about...

Monday, September 07, 2009

More Thoughts on Wright, Justification

So, I have been thinking a good deal about the whole N.T. Wright/Doctrine of Justification bit since my post last Friday. My understanding is so limited I am tempted not to go there, but I will anyway.

Watch this video of Bishop Wright discussing his book, Justification.



Alright. A couple of thoughts.

Firstly, Bishop Wright says, when discussing Justification, Paul is not asking "How can you get enough righteousness so that when God looks at you he'll be happy with you," but rather "How can you be sure that you are a member of God's people, that your sins are forgiven, and that, therefore, you are part of the covenant purposes of God which.... have been the way in which God has been addressing and rescuing the world." Are these questions at odds? They seem to be working on two different levels. The unity that Christ speaks of in John 17 is one that is experienced on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ, but also answers questions regarding membership into the people of God. It may be true that Paul, when corresponding with various churches and people, is most immediately addressing the latter question, but that does not mean that the first question is not at all addressed.

Secondly, the Reformation may have defined Justification by asking the first question Wright poses. But Scripture still answers the question, "How am I declared righteous before a Holy God when my good works are filthy rags and my nature is totally depraved," which is how I would rephrase the first question. Wright seems to attempt to skew the question a bit by framing the Reformation understanding of righteousness as a "moral quality or virtue" (which some may have seen it as, but certainly not Luther, Calvin, or other Reformation leaders). However, just because the question does not show up in this form until a millennium-and-a-half after Paul writes his letters does not mean Scripture does not address it. In fact, the Bible addresses Justification from the perspective of the first question much more exhaustively then, say, the Trinity, which was not really on anyone's radar until the forth century.

I by no means have any answers about this yet and there is a good chance that all Bishop Wright said went directly over my head and I missed the point entirely. Nevertheless, I will continue to investigate. What this video did was prove to me that Bishop Wright has more convincing to do if he plans on changing the definition of Justification.

I guess the next step is to read his book, which, by the looks of things, will not be for a good while.

Another Blog Design

If you have been a faithful follower of Thorns you have experienced my frustration with the design of the blog through the multiple changes that have occurred in the past six months.

Well, it looks different again. I hope this one sticks. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Resolution 19

Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

Christ is coming back at any minute. You and I do not know when. Our actions should reflect this fact...

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”