Monday, April 30, 2007

hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.

For the third time in less than five years the Saint Louis Cardinals have lost members of the family, two of which were pitchers.

(Read a chronological review of the Tragic Deaths of Major Leaguers.)

Early Sunday morning, pitcher Josh Hancock (#32) died in an automobile accident. Consequently, Sunday nights game against the Cubs was postponed. Hancock went from winning the World Series in October and seemingly being on top of the world, to being confronted by his own mortality. He was 29 years old.

In 2002 on June 22 pitcher Darryl Kile (#57) died in his sleep from heart problems (coronary atherosclerosis, a "narrowing of the arteries supplying the heart muscle"). Consequently, that day's game against the Cubs was postponed. He was 33 years old.

At that time the Cardinals nation was already in mourning, for long time announcer (and poet) Jack Buck had passed away less than four days beforehand. This picture of Kile always struck me as eerie. Kile had pitched the Cardinals into first place the night of Buck's death. The next day you see this picture of Kile paying tribute to Jack Buck with the "JFB" on his sleeve. Less than four days later, the Cardinals would need another black band.
"Smith corks one into right down the line! It may go! … Go crazy, folks, Go crazy! It’s a home run! And the Cardinals have won the game … by the score of 3 to 2 … on a home run … by the Wizard! Go crazy!"
-Jack Buck, with the call on Ozzie's first left-handed homer, in the 1985 NLCS, a "walk off" homer in Game Five that put them in the World Series, where they were robbed.

We love our Redbirds and just as we rejoice with those who rejoice, so we mourn with those who mourn. However, for the Christian, for the Christian, now, only for the Christian, we do not mourn as the world, as though we had no hope. Because we are Christ, we will be raised, just as He was.
Our HOPE is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

Josh Hancock will be remembered by his teammates and others, but he also reminds us that there is no guarantee of tomorrow and that our lives are like vapors or a breath, fleeting at best.
O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
-Psalm 39:4-5, ESV (HT Rev)

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Do you own rubber gloves, Mr. Nugent?

This will seem counter-intuitive to some, but Ted just may be on to something (HT Brent). Remember, "if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
-2nd Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Gun-free zones are recipe for disaster
by Ted Nugent, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Rock guitarist Ted Nugent has sold more than 30 million albums. He's also a gun rights activist and serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association. His program, "Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild," can be seen on the Outdoor Channel.

WACO, Texas (CNN) -- Zero tolerance, huh? Gun-free zones, huh? Try this on for size: Columbine gun-free zone, New York City pizza shop gun-free zone, Luby's Cafeteria gun-free zone, Amish school in Pennsylvania gun-free zone and now Virginia Tech gun-free zone.

Anybody see what the evil Brady Campaign and other anti-gun cults have created? I personally have zero tolerance for evil and denial. And America had best wake up real fast that the brain-dead celebration of unarmed helplessness will get you killed every time, and I've about had enough of it.

Nearly a decade ago, a Springfield, Oregon, high schooler, a hunter familiar with firearms, was able to bring an unfolding rampage to an abrupt end when he identified a gunman attempting to reload his .22-caliber rifle, made the tactical decision to make a move and tackled the shooter.

A few years back, an assistant principal at Pearl High School in Mississippi, which was a gun-free zone, retrieved his legally owned Colt .45 from his car and stopped a Columbine wannabe from continuing his massacre at another school after he had killed two and wounded more at Pearl.

At an eighth-grade school dance in Pennsylvania, a boy fatally shot a teacher and wounded two students before the owner of the dance hall brought the killing to a halt with his own gun.

More recently, just a few miles up the road from Virginia Tech, two law school students ran to fetch their legally owned firearm to stop a madman from slaughtering anybody and everybody he pleased. These brave, average, armed citizens neutralized him pronto.

My hero, Dr. Suzanne Gratia Hupp, was not allowed by Texas law to carry her handgun into Luby's Cafeteria that fateful day in 1991, when due to bureaucrat-forced unarmed helplessness she could do nothing to stop satanic George Hennard from killing 23 people and wounding more than 20 others before he shot himself. Hupp was unarmed for no other reason than denial-ridden "feel good" politics.

She has since led the charge for concealed weapon upgrade in Texas, where we can now stop evil. Yet, there are still the mindless puppets of the Brady Campaign and other anti-gun organizations insisting on continuing the gun-free zone insanity by which innocents are forced into unarmed helplessness. Shame on them. Shame on America. Shame on the anti-gunners all.

No one was foolish enough to debate Ryder truck regulations or ammonia nitrate restrictions or a "cult of agriculture fertilizer" following the unabashed evil of Timothy McVeigh's heinous crime against America on that fateful day in Oklahoma City. No one faulted kitchen utensils or other hardware of choice after Jeffrey Dahmer was caught drugging, mutilating, raping, murdering and cannibalizing his victims. Nobody wanted "steak knife control" as they autopsied the dead nurses in Chicago, Illinois, as Richard Speck went on trial for mass murder.

Evil is as evil does, and laws disarming guaranteed victims make evil people very, very happy. Shame on us.

Already spineless gun control advocates are squawking like chickens with their tiny-brained heads chopped off, making political hay over this most recent, devastating Virginia Tech massacre, when in fact it is their own forced gun-free zone policy that enabled the unchallenged methodical murder of 32 people.

Thirty-two people dead on a U.S. college campus pursuing their American Dream, mowed-down over an extended period of time by a lone, non-American gunman in possession of a firearm on campus in defiance of a zero-tolerance gun ban. Feel better yet? Didn't think so.

Who doesn't get this? Who has the audacity to demand unarmed helplessness? Who likes dead good guys?

I'll tell you who. People who tramp on the Second Amendment, that's who. People who refuse to accept the self-evident truth that free people have the God-given right to keep and bear arms, to defend themselves and their loved ones. People who are so desperate in their drive to control others, so mindless in their denial that they pretend access to gas causes arson, Ryder trucks and fertilizer cause terrorism, water causes drowning, forks and spoons cause obesity, dialing 911 will somehow save your life, and that their greedy clamoring to "feel good" is more important than admitting that armed citizens are much better equipped to stop evil than unarmed, helpless ones.

Pray for the families of victims everywhere, America. Study the methodology of evil. It has a profile, a system, a preferred environment where victims cannot fight back. Embrace the facts, demand upgrade and be certain that your children's school has a better plan than Virginia Tech or Columbine. Eliminate the insanity of gun-free zones, which will never, ever be gun-free zones. They will only be good guy gun-free zones, and that is a recipe for disaster written in blood on the altar of denial. I, for one, refuse to genuflect there.
It's a shame to me that there are so many enemies of the 2nd Amendment, that which was one of the "Big Ten" included in the Bill of Rights. I shouldn't be surprised since there have been so many enemies of the 1st Amendment as well. The fact of the matter is that an unarmed populace is much more susceptible to tyranny. The founders of the country understood that, but I'm afraid most of us do not.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

Yesterday I had the privilege to meet with Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I had remarked before (He's a good man ... and thorough) about being impressed in a meeting where he addressed us homiletics professors at SWBTS, but this was a nice one-on-one chat.

I was impressed by his pastoral nature, expressed in warmth and concern for me and my family, seeming to be genuinely interested.

I enjoyed the conversation on a intellectual level, but also a personal level, including hearing some firsthand reflections on Dr. W.A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Dallas for over 40 years.

I was also impressed by his knowledge of classical rhetoric as we discussed my dissertation area, but I won't bore you with the details of Aristotelian persuasion or Cicero's "Canons" of Rhetoric.

We discussed a bit about the presence of both the Reformed & Revivalist (or Calvinistic & Arminian) in the SBC and the benefits of one to the other. He made an observation that I'd never really thought of with regard to what happened with the Baptists in England. They split as Particular & General Baptists, where the Particulars eventually succumbed to hyper-calvinism and the Generals eventually succumbed to universalism and then Unitarianism.

In other words, the tension in the SBC helps keep both groups in check. It may be an overstatement, but the one helps the other with a focus on doctrine while the other helps the other with a focus on doing evangelism.

Dr. Patterson would not consider himself a Calvinist (however, not necessarily wearing the label of Arminian either), but his goal is not the eradication of Calvinists from the SBC, any more than the goal of the more Reformed being to eliminate the Arminians.

Incidentally, if you're not familiar with the 2006 dialogue that Dr. Patterson had with Dr. Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), I heartily recommend it (listen or order audio).

In it Dr. Mohler warned against a concern with regard to Calvinism. I agree.
“There is a tendency toward a debating personality or a confrontation on these different points of theology. It’s healthy to study God’s word to find out what the gospel is. It is not healthy when a person would drive across the state to debate Calvinism, but won’t drive across the street to share the gospel.”
While a contentious spirit is arrogant and ugly, anytime you have those with widely divergent theological views (particularly with regard to soteriology) discuss the topic in a warm and honest manner, everybody wins. Such is rare in discussions of Calvinism & Arminianism, but these two friends demonstrate and represent a health approach of Southern Baptists to discussion our theological differences in a manner of love and respect, for each other, for the Bible, and for the Lord Jesus.

I said all that to say this, I am grateful for the time I got to spend with a man whom Southern Baptists should respect and appreciate the vital role Dr. Patterson played in restoring to the SBC the inerrancy of Scripture. I am grateful that, while president of the SBC, Dr. Patterson initiated the the revision process of the Baptist Faith and Message (2000), which, among other things, strengthened the role of the Bible in our lives. There is still work to do, however, in living under the inerrant Scripture, not just affirming it (i.e,. Sola Scriptura).

The more liberal/moderate in the SBC would lament the conservative resurgence, often even mocking the defense of inerrancy of Scripture. The words we might use to describe that which we value, others might use as a punchline. We need to be grateful for men like Drs. Criswell, Mohler, and Patterson, men passionate in their love for Christ which drives their actions. We also need to pray as we have great need for more men like them in the SBC in the future.

P.S. I've just learned that Dr. Patterson has garnered vast criticism for his comments in chapel (4/18) at SWBTS regarding the VT shootings.
"My own perspective is that Christians – who believe that heaven is their real home and that they are prepared for eternity as result of a life changed by Christ – are even more obligated to act courageously and sacrificially. And I am still just old-fashioned enough to believe that men are responsible to protect women and children."
Who could have a problem with that?! I put that in the category of, "Be a man."

I remember when my dad was stationed at Fort Hood back in the day some goon starting shooting up the Luby's in nearby Killeen. We didn't have the option available to us in Texas to carry a concealed weapon and I know of at least one who had one in the car that day who would have been able to handle up, for the gunman had to reload before he shot her parents.

Isn't that courage? Isn't that heroism?

Isn't that what happened on United flight #93 on 9/11? Remember ... "Let's roll!"

Sure, nobody thinks such will happen, but Dr. Patterson calling on seminary students to be willing to lay down their lives for others .... how can that be wrong? (cf. John 15:13)

Monday, April 23, 2007

With great power comes great responsibility. This is my gift and my curse.

Brent has posted some (possible) spiritual benefits of blogging.
"One of the benefits of blogging for me has been an increased awareness and appreciation of viewpoints I might otherwise have little exposure to."

They're worth a look and I hope to be part of the solution and not the problem, part of the benefit and not the detriment.

Like Brent, I hope to use my powers for good, not for evil. Or else, as he frequently says, "The terrorists have already won."

With great power comes great responsibility. This is my gift and my curse.

Blogito ergo sum. I blog, therefore, I am.

What say you? What are the pros and cons of blogging? There is the trial by public/popular opinion that seems to go hand in hand with any spare getting a blog, perhaps making a weak point loudly.

What, if any (potential) spiritual benefits do you derive from reading, writing, and/or commenting on blogs?

if you are thinking of taking the tribe cross country, this is your automobile.

Watching Speed Racer again with my kids reminded me of some of the cars I wanted as a boy. They will, naturally, reflect my television viewing experiences.

KITT ...

Move over, David Hasselhoff!

I loved the Mach 5.
Go, Speed Racer! Go, Speed Racer!
Go, Speed Racer! Go!

How cool was Starsky's Torino? Didn't it make everyone want to be an undercover cop?

The Duke boys could outrun anything in the General Lee.

Of course, there was nothing they could break that Crazy Cooter couldn't fix.

On the water, the Bat Boat. In the air, the Bat Copter, but on land it had to be the Batmobile. I got to see it at a car show as a kid and was only disappointed that I didn't get to see Batman & Robin ... or at least the Penguin!

As a big boy, I would have to go with a 1959 Corvette, red, of course.

What's your dream ride?


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

this is not a democracy, it's a cheerocracy. I'm sorry, but I'm overruling you.

Caveat, many will not share my views on this subject, but I wholeheartedly agree with the following article. We did not have cheerleaders at Texas A&M University (Whoop!) and I didn't feel cheated in the least. In high school I thought cheerleading was the epitome of all things silly about high school.

Don't get me wrong, teenage boys (and grown men) appreciate looking at scantily clad young ladies jumping around for their gawking pleasure, but even as a non-Christian I really thought the whole thing demaening and degrading to women. I particularly think that when I'm trying to watch the beloved Cowboys and after commercial we spend an uncomfortable amount of time focused in on a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader wearing a push-up bra and not much covering it.

Now, at Texas A&M (Whoop!) we had yell leaders, who lead us in the yells, which was good ... and functional. We were there not merely as spectators, but also as the 12th Man, trying to rattle the evildoers with our volume.

Cheerleaders are a distraction to the game, although they do help lead us in the "Plano, Plano ... East, East" chants at the PESH games. But, they are there as a diversion, so that if we are watching them we are not actually watching the game. They are not the halftime entertainment, for there are marching bands and dancing girls/drill teams.

Let's face it, they are the product of, and excuse for, popularity competitions.

Of course, if nothing else, the dissolution of cheerleading will eliminate the possibility of the phenomenon known as "the male cheerleader." There, I said it. We were all thinking it, now it's out.

I said all that to say this, my endorsement of this article implies no animosity toward the girls who are involved in cheerleading, nor does it mean I do not appreciate the vast amounts of energy and cost that go into the sport. It also does not mean I can't see the impressive nature of the organized cheer competitions, etc.

If you comment in dissent, please try not to ... be agressive, B-E agressive.

But, I would agree that ...

Cheerleading one sport worth ditching

10:49 AM CDT on Monday, April 16, 2007

by Scott Parks,

Can you imagine a high school without cheerleaders?

I can.

Cheerleading seems to produce a social toxin that poisons the brain of anyone it touches – the girls, their parents, teachers, administrators and the public.

Karen Ayres, an education writer for this newspaper, uncovered the latest example of cheerleader nonsense at Allen High School in Collin County.

Two cheerleader moms, D.J. Pool and Pam Burns, got crosswise with each other. Ms. Pool's daughter got kicked off the squad for being in the presence of alcohol. MySpace pictures of other cheerleaders who also appeared to be in the presence of alcohol got sent to school officials.

Three other girls, including Ms. Burns' daughter, got kicked off the squad, and the cheerleader booster club erupted into warring factions of parents. None of the girls actually admitted to drinking.

Lacey Rainey, the cheerleading coach, had watched similar controversies develop at nearby McKinney North High School and at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake.

In her story in Saturday's newspaper, Ms. Ayres reported that Coach Rainey threatened to disband the booster club and cancel the squad's end-of-year banquet if any parents took their grievances to the media, which is exactly what happened.

I shudder to think how many hours of time Allen ISD administrators and staff will waste on this foolishness.

Russell Crowe, actor and co-owner of an Australian rugby team, recently got rid of his prancing cheerleaders. They made women spectators uncomfortable and made fathers less likely to bring their young sons to games.

So, a male and female drum corps has replaced cheerleaders on the rugby sidelines. Now, Mr. Crowe is no longer an angry hooligan. Free of cheerleading, he's a happy guy again.

At this very moment, somewhere in Texas, probably in Allen, is a high school principal yearning to be free. And an athletic director enduring another speech about how cheerleading really is a sport and deserves respect.

I'm sorry. What sport requires the athlete to wear a smile pasted on her face? And exactly whom are the cheerleaders competing against at a football game? Is this an activity worth risking serious injury?

Look, most high school cheerleaders and their parents are terrific people. But let's face it. Time after time, these cheerleading programs run aground on the shoals of superficiality and pettiness.

School administrators maintain a double standard when defining what is disruptive to the learning environment. They ban students with unusual hairstyles, T-shirts with beer logos or marijuana leaves, bare midriffs and baggy pants.

Those things may be offensive to adults, but they aren't disruptive. Cheerleading is disruptive. Really, what would be lost if high schools dumped it as an extracurricular activity?

Young women who value physical activity and competition can pursue a variety of high school sports – basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, golf, swimming, diving, tennis, and track and field.

Many people, especially Texans, will view the idea of high school without cheerleaders as a radical suggestion. I can hear them now.

Football players and their parents are no angels. Why don't we ban football? It doesn't have anything to do with academics, either.

Let me retort.

Football is the host organism that nurtures a school community. How many people would go see a marching band if its performance wasn't sandwiched into a football game? A clean, winning football program creates a positive image that encourages people to find out other good things about a school.

Football also generates revenue from ticket sales and concessions.

For those too faint of heart to consider getting rid of cheerleaders, how about a few reforms that might remove them from the pedestal of popularity?

•Use a panel of judges to select cheerleaders in closed tryouts. Don't allow the students to vote on them after tryouts at mass assemblies.

•Eliminate them from the sidelines at football games. The marching band remains the critical spirit machine at games.

•Get rid of the cheerleader booster club. If that won't fly, roll the cheerleader parents into the band booster club. They might be less likely to misbehave while lost in a sea of band parents.

•Call them something else. The word "cheerleader" has taken on too much baggage. Call them "Yell Leaders" or "Spirit Flyers."

And now it's time for another cheerleader booster club meeting. Somebody call security.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Why is that?

Okay, as I near the end of another year of birth being celebrated, there are just certain things about this life I don't understand. I see things and ask, in my best Kip Dynamite, "Why is that?"

I don't understand ...

why my mail arrives at a different time each day. On the days I want to drop something in the mail to be picked up, the post has been here already by noon. Yet, it's not uncommon for the mail to arrive after 5PM, having noted it before coming just before 9PM. Wouldn't it be the same route every day? Yet, the window of mail delivery is incredible. Why is that?

why Paris Hilton is so famous, beyond her parents having money. She's not hailed as a great actress or beauty queen, but seems to be a professional celebrity with mucho fame. Why is that?

why my body temperature internally is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but if the outside temperature is 95 degrees, I feel warm. Shouldn't the equilibrium be such that I'm content when my internal temperature matches the external? Shouldn't I be warm only when it's 98.7 or higher and be cool/cold if the temperature drops below 98.6? But that's not the case. I'm warm when it's 80 degrees. Why is that?

why I would want to give $3 to the presidential campaign fund. I was asked this when having my taxes done and, as usual, I declined. If a person has any political interest, why not give that $3 to a candidate worthy of support instead of pooling it into some slooge fund? Why is that?

why the hair on my arm, for example, will grow back, if shaven, but only to the same length it was before. How does it know when to stop growing? How does it know how long it has become? Why is that?

why the Mona Lisa is such a famous painting. I find it exceedingly average. The lady is not attractive. DaVinci did other things that seem to have more of the elements/aspects of beauty described by Kant in his Critique of Judgment. There are other works of art from that era that seem to have greater intrinsic value, but staring at the original as a teenager I was told it was such a famous painting. Why is that?

why Gone with the Wind is such a beloved movie. I find the acting marginal, the storyline laborious, and the characters sub par. Yet, people love it. Why is that?

why the thermos is not seen as the greatest invention of all time. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold and I wonder how does it know. Why is that?

why people so hate athletic celebrations. A guy scores a touchdown and signs a football with a Sharpie or pulls out a cellphone or dances around or uses the ball as a pillow, etc. Some want to see such players fined or suspended or at least given a stern talking to. Sports is all about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I do think it odd when you see an exuberant celebration after a routine play (e.g., a tackle) or when the team is getting smoked off the filed/court, but some people REALLY hate to see exuberant celebration. Why is that?

why wackos such as the goon at Virginia Tech today decide to unleash their depravity on random people, particularly on the campus of a school. I understand that humanity is fallen to the point that it is only the restraining power of God's Spirit that keeps folks from being as evil as they could be, but what's the rationale from shooting people, killing at least 22 (as of noon, but by 5PM it's at least 32). Oddly enough, this was the second time in less than a year that the campus was shut down due to a shooting. This is apparently the "deadliest campus shooting in history," a record I hope will stand the test of time. The evil gunman is dead, cowardly committing suicide. So we cannot ask him, but he saw fit to end the lives of these people and derail the lives of many. Why is that?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's only a mask... if you treat it that way.

Every once in a while I take my kids for a trip down memory lane. I like for them to be able to experience and enjoy that which I enjoyed as a kid.

They'll never know what it's like to ride their bikes all over town, merely being concerned about being home before dark. This is a different time, a different world.

They'll never know many of the adventures I had as a kid. But they can know the joy of perhaps the greatest cartoon of all time ... SPEED RACER!

Just as I have exposed them to The Lone Ranger, so we enjoyed some time on the couch today becoming acquainted with Speed, Trixie, Pops, Sparky, Spritle, and my childhood fav, the Masked Racer (aka Racer X).

What can I say, I guess I've always had an affinity for masked heroes (e.g., Racer X, Kemo Sabe, Batman, and Zorro).

Some folks shy away from the mask, but it's only a mask ... if you treat it that way.

I encourage you to take your own stroll down memory lane (official site - Wiki), or learn of some new characters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Get that lumber in his teeth. Let 'em know you're there!

Tonight the NHL playoffs begin, the "Second Season."

We'll see just how far they can go toward bringing Lord Stanley's cup back to Dallas, but they've had some disappointing playoff experiences as of late.

I sure wouldn't mind seeing THIS again.

Wouldn't it be sweet to see the most prolific US born NHL player, Mike Modano, hoisting THE Cup above his head? I'm in.

"By the age of 18, the average American has witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, most of them occurring during Game 1 of the NHL playoff series."
-Steve Rushin

Game 1: The Dallas Stars face off in Vacouver against the Canucks of Canada. G'Day, mate!

Some more hockey related quotes to get you motivated ...

Bobby Clarke: "We take the shortest route to the puck and arrive in ill humor."

Jim McKenny: "Half the game is mental; the other half is being mental."

Jacques Plante: "How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?"

Brett Hull: "I'm not dumb enough to be a goalie."

Doug Larson: "Ice hockey is a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept."

Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100% of the shots you never take."

Gordie Howe: "American professional athletes are bilingual; they speak English and profanity."

Jim Murray: "Hockey is murder on ice."

Barclay Plager: "It's not who wins the fight that's important, it's being willing to fight. If you get challenged and renege, everyone wants to take a shot at you."

Unknown: "Street hockey is great for kids. It's energetic, competitive, and skilful. And best of all it keeps them off the street."

Rodney Dangerfield: "I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out."

Paul Coffey: "When we've got the puck, they can't score."

Brad Park: "We get nose jobs all the time in the NHL, and we don't even have to go to the hospital."

Milan Gajic: "I honestly believe some would have given up their left leg to stop a shot in the third period."

Ken Dryden: "There are two types of forwards. Scorers and bangers. Scorers score and bangers bang."

Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: "That's so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my (expletive) clothes."

Al Michaels, describing Americans' knowledge of hockey prior to the "Miracle on Ice": "People didn't know the difference between a blue line and a clothes line."

Jimmy Cannon: "A puck is a hard rubber disc that hockey players strike when they can't hit one another."
This is the time of year where I really miss Derrian Hatcher and I'm still tender the Stars let him go. But somebody needs to step up, to get that lumber in his teeth. C'mon, Stars, let 'em know you're there!

Go Stars!

P.S. What a way to start the playoffs ... losing with just a few minutes left in the FOURTH 20 minute overtime period. I LOVE overtime playoff hockey, but that was a brutal loss tonight/this morning.

"The Stars have lost five straight playoff overtime games."

I'd say they're due!


you like movies about gladiators?

Good grief, these are so true!


During all police investigations it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

All telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555. Most dogs are immortal. If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick's Day parade - at any time of the year.

All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.

All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French Bread.

It's easy for anyone to land a plane providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

Once applied, lipstick will never rub off - even while scuba diving.

The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.

If you need to reload your gun, you will always have more ammunition even if you haven't been carrying any before now.

You're very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

If your town is threatened by an imminent natural isaster or killer beast, the mayor's first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition.

The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.

The Chief of Police is always black.

In court, the Judge is always female, and usually black as well.

When paying for a taxi, don't look at your wallet as you take out a bill - just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

Interbreeding is genetically possible with any creature from elsewhere in the universe.

Kitchens don't have light switches. When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead.

If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.

Word processors never display a cursor on screen but will always say: Enter Password Now.

When displaying text, a computer always beeps as each letter and/or number appears on the screen.

Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning even though their husband and children never have time to eat it.

Cars that crash will almost always burst into flames.

The Chief of Police will always suspend his star detective - or give him 48 hours to finish the job.

A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of Texas Stadium.

Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

Although in the 20th century it is possible to fire weapons at an object out of our visual range, people of the 23rd century will have lost this technology.

Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.

Even when driving down a perfectly straight road it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.

All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.

It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading alien civilization.

It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered, in a fight involving martial arts your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

When a person is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, they will never suffer a concussion or brain damage.

No one involved in a car chase, hijacking, explosion, volcanic eruption or alien invasion will ever go into shock.

Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.

When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other .

You can always find a chainsaw when you need one.

Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds - unless it's the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.

An electric fence, powerful enough to kill a dinosaur will cause no lasting damage to an eight year old child.

Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Defeat does not exist in this dojo, does it?!

8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
-Romans 6:8-11, ESV

Rejoice! He is risen. He is risen indeed!

He cannot be defeated by death, neither can we who are in Christ.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live"
-John 11:25, ESV

P.S. My four-year old boy came running into my room to wake me up this morning with all the enthusiasm I think his little body could muster.

In exuberance he declared, "Mom said, 'Jesus is alive!'"

Now, THAT is the way to start a day of victory!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.

Last night at our Good Friday service at Providence Church I gave some devotional thoughts on the 6th of the 7 sayings of Jesus while on the cross: "It is finished."

(cf. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" by Jay the Bennett)

Jesus had asked, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" and stated, "I thirst." But we now turn to a declaration of victory.
“From the words of the victim, we now turn to the words of the victor. It is proverbial that every cloud has its silver lining; so had the darkest cloud of all. The Cross of Christ has two great sides to it: it showed the profound depths of humiliation, but it also marked the goal of the incarnation, and further, it told of the consummation of His mission, and it forms the basis of our salvation.”
-A.W. Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross
The first Greek word I learned is still my favorite and it is translated with the English sentence, "It is finished."

τετέλεσται - to complete, fulfill, accomplish; to pay what is due

It is here in the perfect tense, meaning that it has been completed, it has been fulfilled, it has been accomplished; the debt has been paid.

What has been finished? What was accomplished?

For those in Christ, the full price of our redemption has been paid.
  • His stripes by which we are healed (Is 53:5) have been imprinted on His back.
  • The hours of darkness have passed.
  • His precious blood has been shed, without which there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22).
  • The cup of wrath has been emptied as Jesus took it on Himself.
Jesus had prayed in the garden, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." (Luke 22:42)
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
(Luke 22:43-44)
Why would He be in agony and pray even more earnestly after the visit? Because an angel is a messenger. He brought the message, "Drink the cup." Jesus did. That's why He could say, τετέλεσται.
  • Ultimately, God has been propitiated. He has no more wrath for those who are in Christ, for Jesus paid it all. He treated Jesus as sin that we might be the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).

We know God has been propiatied, we know God's anger over our sin has been assuaged because:
  1. The curtain sectioning off the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Luke 23:45), showing we now have access to the Father through Christ (Eph 2:18).
  2. Jesus rose from the dead, demonstrating His victory over death and ours as well (1 Cor 15:55).
  3. Christ has been exalted to God's right hand, His rightful place of authority.
  4. The Spirit has been sent to finish Christ's work of redemption, as He regenerates those for whom Christ died, and subsequently sanctifying them.
"But now the suffering is ended. That from which His holy soul shrank is over. The Lord has bruised Him; man and devil have done their worst. The cup has been drained. The awful storm of God's wrath has spent itself. The darkness is ended. The sword of divine justice is sheathed. The wages of sin have been paid."
-A.W. Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross
That why Jesus can say, τετέλεσται, "It is finished."

There was darkness, but it would pass. A new day would come. And when the sun shines on Sunday, His followers will understand. Then and only then will the begin to understand what Jesus meant when He said, τετέλεσται, "It is finished."

Far too many look back on their lives a few moments before death with despair from having accomplished nothing of any significance. This was not so with the Lord Jesus. This High Priest finished the work He was given to do.
11And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," 17then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." 18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
-Hebrews 10:11-18, ESV
His food and drink was to do the will of the Father and He's done it. Is there any pertinent application to this? The writer of Hebrews thinks so, as he continues:
19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
-Hebrews 10:19-25, ESV
Lifted up was He to die.
"It is finished," was his cry.
τετέλεσται - It is finished!

Hallelujah, What a Savior!

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Friday, April 06, 2007

As though He were carrying in that cross the pain of the world.

Tonight Providence Church is having a Good Friday service, a large part of which is exposition & meditation upon the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross:
  1. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
  2. "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
  3. "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." (John 19:26-27)
  4. "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?" (Matthew 27:46)
  5. "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)
  6. "It is finished." (John 19:30)
  7. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)
It will be somewhat of a somber occassion, but only somewhat since we know what comes next: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

John Piper lists 8 reasons he thinks Jesus rose from the dead, click HERE to read them in their fullness.

The cross is empty and stands as a symbol to us of the power of the atonement for the forgiveness of our sins. Payment for sin is demonstrated in the resurrection, without which we are to be a people most pitied (1 Cor 15:14-19).

Eight Reasons Why I Believe That Jesus Rose from the Dead
By John Piper
1. Jesus himself testified to his coming resurrection from the dead.

2. The tomb was empty on Easter.

3. The disciples were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:2).

4. Paul claimed that, not only had he seen the risen Christ, but that 500 others had seen him also, and many were still alive when he made this public claim.

5. The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian church supports the truth of the resurrection claim.

6. The Apostle Paul’s conversion supports the truth of the resurrection.

7. The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers.

8. There is a self-authenticating glory in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection as narrated by the biblical witnesses.

A saving knowledge of Christ crucified and risen is not the mere result of right reasoning about historical facts. It is the result of spiritual illumination to see those facts for what they really are: a revelation of the truth and glory of God in the face of Christ—who is the same yesterday today and forever.
Amen. We serve a risen Savior; He's in the world today. He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart. I hope you have experienced salvation by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.

If not, I encourage you to find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church and hear the good news of King Jesus this Sunday.
Also, I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have, including where you might find such a church.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Well, I don't think there is any question about it. It can only be attributable to human error.

It was a beautiful day, so I took my three oldest to the park (Victoria was in the bag). They were playing good for the most part as I read my book on racial diversity in church (a topic near and dear to my heart, as has been seen here). It was a gift from the author and local pastor, Tony Mathews.

I noticed some harsh words going back and forth between my girls and two other girls about the sames ages, but from different ethnic backgrounds.

There was debate over the swings, which my girls apparently got on when the others were away. They now wanted them back.

Remember these discussions?
"You don't own the playground."
"We had them first."
"You left."

Sometimes I think I should have been a sociologist as I was really enjoying observing the happenings. I watched the melee, being reminded of Proverbs 15:1 as the emotions and facial expressions escalated, including clenched fists and "Grrr." Finally, I heard, "We're telling" and they came to see me to arbitrate.

I actually thought it was a good thing for them to learn about the "Law of the Playground" (aka "The Law of the Jungle") and talked with them a bit, but did not intervene.

Sarah wanted to let it go and let everyone play on opposite ends of the playground, but Rachel couldn't let it go. I watched as she repeatedly went to instigate trouble, particularly as there was a swing that Rachel would run toward and they would get their first so she couldn't swing on it. They didn't want it, but since they were not on good terms with Rachel, they certainly didn't want her to have it.

Sarah kept shouting, "Rachel, stop picking fights!"

I found myself seeing a great deal of Young Gun in Rachel. I can't recall how many fights I got in on the playground as I wouldn't be denied or couldn't leave a situation diffused.

Fortunately, I didn't have to intervene and it didn't ever get physical. So, she's better at this than I was, it appears.

I found it particularly interesting that this was all going on during the part of the book dealing with determining whether or not a conflict is people-related or race-related. I am pretty confident that this was not a race, problem with a human problem, depravity coming to the surface.

My kids are blessed to have had great friendships with kids of different racial backgrounds (e.g., Lydia) and this episode didn't seem to "jade" them in any way.

(Incidentally, I can still remember my first significant cross-racial friendship, it was with Donald Tolbert in El Paso in junior high. He and I got to be good friends on school baseball team, as nobody else had any love for "the gringo" and/or "the black kid.")

Oddly enough and providentially so, we heard Depeche Mode's "People Are People" on the radio on the way home.
So were different colours
And were different creeds
And different people
Have different needs
Its obvious you hate me
Though Ive done nothing wrong
Ive never even met you
So what could I have done
I cant understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
Help me understand
Help me understand
I can help. It's called human depravity. It's hard enough to get along with people like us, but much more so those who differ. As Pastor Mathews wrote, "the primary speed bump in the road leading to multicultural, multiracial ministry is people."

In fact, I don't think there is any question about it. It can only be attributable to human error.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hey, I got Bob Sugar on the other line; I better hear you say it!

Chris J. Cote' (aka Glaucoma Dog) posted this and I thought it a brilliant exercise:

How would you summarize the storyline of the Bible in one sentence?

I took a stab on his blog, but don't want to corrupt your offering ... not yet anyway.

I figure after after a half-dozen or so, I'll give my meager offering for your consideration.

So, what say you? Don't be a coward, especially if you're a seminary student/graduate. Let's see some fruit of that labor (and financial investment).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's illegal in nine countries.

There have been concerns about Keith Richards (of Rolling Stones fame) for years, but this was still surprising (HT Blade).

Apparently, he's been known to consume some drugs in his day, but this seems at a bit excessive to me.
"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father."

Maybe I'm just a traditional sort of guy, but I'm gonna go out on a controversial limb and say snorting the cremated remains of one's father mixed with some cocaine is a bit unstable. There, I said it.
"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."
Dear reader, even if it won't kill you, please resist the urge to snort a beloved family member. Keith knew his dad better than I, admittedly, but I'm still not so sure his dad would have been a big fan.

We're to Tara right away; the Yankees are coming.

John Piper is today in the Promised Land (i.e., Aggieland) and will be speaking tonight. He and his peeps are handing out hundreds of copies of Don't Waste Your Life and I pray it will have a great impact on the campus.

When I was a senior as a chaplain in the Corps of Cadets we started up a thing called "Resurrection Week" with events leading up to Resurrection Sunday. We brought in speakers and the culmination was a crucifixion & resurrection reenactment followed by a Gospel presentation to those in attendance in the courtyard.

By God's grace I got to be that speaker at Resurrection Week '97. As great as it was I never got in on any John Piper action, but it's encouraging to see "The Pipe" (as Lance calls him) spreading "a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ" at Texas A&M University.

I just wish I would have known sooner as I would have tried to make a trip down to Tara, knowing the Yankees are coming.

UPDATE: Click to listen to Dr. Piper's talk.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.

While studying at Oxford I was a member of Pembroke College, following the footsteps of my hero, George Whitefield. Walking where Whitefield walked in the university where John Owen had been Vice-Chancellor was awesome.

(Need directions from Dallas to our old flat in Oxford? Note step #26.)

FYI, other Pembrokians beside Whitefield and mybadself include poet Samuel Johnson, James Smithson (Smithsonian Institute), Senator J. William Fulbright, Sir Roger Bannister (first to run the mile in under 4 minutes), William Blackstone, and J.R.R.R.R. Tolkein, and Michael Heseltine.

While there my college advisor was Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware, author of The Orthodox Church and a very interesting fellow. He was/is apparently kind of a big deal in the Orthodox Church, having made his conversion in 1952. I learned that when I asked his secretary for an appointment with "Kallistos" (as he'd introduced himself to me). Aghast, she said she would try to get me an appointment with the "Most Holy Revd. Canon Bishop Ware" (or something to that effect).

I"m sure she was thinking, "Bloody Americans, they have no respect for proper decorum." Anyway, I enjoyed my discussions with him as he opened up to me a whole branch of the church of which I had been utterly ignorant.

Today I came across something he had written:
How to Read the Bible.

I will share and interact with a few excerpts, though I recommend the article in its entirety. There are somethings therein from which I would distance, but the main points did a little something for me.
We may distinguish four key qualities that mark an Orthodox reading of Scripture, namely
1 - our reading should be obedient,
2 - it should be ecclesial, within the Church,
3 - it should be Christ-centered,
4 - it should be personal.
As he does, I will deal with each in turn (comments in maroon are mine).
FIRST OF ALL, when reading Scripture, we are to listen in a spirit of obedience. The Orthodox Church believes in divine inspiration of the Bible. Scripture is a "letter" from God, where Christ Himself is speaking. The Scriptures are God's authoritative witness of Himself. They express the Word of God in our human language. Since God Himself is speaking to us in the Bible, our response is rightly one of obedience, of receptivity, and listening. As we read, we wait on the Spirit.
It occurs to me that often we come to the text wanting to do something with it, approaching it in a very utilitarian fashion rather than letting it (or Him through it) dictate to us what is to be done with us.

We are to feel toward the Bible with a sense of wonder, and sense of expectation and surprise. There are so many rooms in Scripture that we have yet to enter. There is so much depth and majesty for us to discover. If obedience means wonder, it also means listening.

We are better at talking than listening. We hear the sound of our own voice, but often we don't pause to hear the voice of the other person who is speaking to us. So the first requirement, as we read Scripture, is to stop talking and to listen—to listen with obedience.
I am reminded of the E.F. Hutton commercials. "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." There's a sense of expectation that there will be information communicated of great value to the listener. It's easy to lose the wonder and awe with regard to reading the Scriptures, unfortunately. It's not the fault of the Bible, but the failing of its readers, self included.

IN THE SECOND PLACE, we should receive and interpret Scripture through the Church and in the Church. Our approach to the Bible is not only obedient but ecclesial.

It is the Church that tells us what is Scripture. A book is not part of Scripture because of any particular theory about its dating and authorship. Even if it could be proved, for example, that the Fourth Gospel was not actually written by John the beloved disciple of Christ, this would not alter the fact that we Orthodox accept the Fourth Gospel as Holy Scripture. Why? Because the Gospel of John is accepted by the Church and in the Church.
Okay, being an adherent of Sola Scriptura, this part made me a bit uneasy. Being a Protestant I like the other side of the coin better, that the Bible gives birth to the church instead of the church giving birth to the Bible. Yet, in all fairness, what I think he's really saying is not so much that the church determined Scripture, but recognized it as such. I can live with that.

It is the Church that tells us what is Scripture, and it is also the Church that tells us how Scripture is to be understood. Coming upon the Ethiopian as he read the Old Testament in his chariot, Philip the Apostle asked him, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" And the Ethiopian answered, "How can I, unless some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:30-31). We are all in the position of the Ethiopian. The words of Scripture are not always self-explanatory. God speaks directly to the heart of each one of us as we read our Bible. Scripture reading is a personal dialogue between each one of us and Christ—but we also need guidance. And our guide is the Church. We make full use of our own personal understanding, assisted by the Spirit, we make full use of the findings of modern Biblical research, but always we submit private opinion—whether our own or that of the scholars—to the total experience of the Church throughout the ages.
Well, practically speaking I think that's true. In theory we Protestants like to think there are no guardrails on our interpretations, but that's just not so. No interpretation is in a vacuum, nor should it be. We have some giants of the faith the shoulders of whom we are able to stand to see things more clearly.

Also, try as we might the reality is that our experiences and tradition will have an influence on our understanding of Scripture. Try as we must to be objective, we must in all humility realize and confess our external influences that make coming to the text with a tabla rosa or "clean slate," which is a noble goal, but elusive in practice.

That doesn't mean we don't attempt to let Scripture trump tradition, but tradition can be helpful with regard to keeping us in the stream of orthodoxy. On a local church level, the congregation and its leadership help guard individual interpretation from error, especially such that could damage the church. Contrary to the bastardization of the Priesthood of the Believer run amuck where it's just be and my Bible, everyone else be anathema, the body plays a role in helping the individual read the Scriptures.

Reading the Old Testament in the light of the New, and the New in the light of the Old—as the Church's calendar encourages us to do—we discover the unity of Holy Scripture.
Amen. There are far to many half-cocked Christians who only "known" one testament (i.e., the New), but even that I would say they don't really know, for it cannot be fully known without knowing its preceding context (and vice versa with the New being necessarily to understand the fullness of the Old).

THE THIRD ELEMENT in our reading of Scripture is that it should be Christ-centered. The Scriptures constitute a coherent whole because they all are Christ-centered. Salvation through the Messiah is their central and unifying topic. He is as a "thread" that runs through all of Holy Scripture, from the first sentence to the last. We have already mentioned the way in which Christ may be seen foreshadowed on the pages of the Old Testament.
Jesus told those who searched the Scriptures that they testify of Him (John 5:39), but they didn't see it. We don't want to imagine things not there, but we need to ask and answer the question of each passage, "What does this tell us about the Triune God? What does this tell us about humanity in need of redemption through the Christ?" Christ is indeed the thread that weaves the garment of Scripture together.

Much modern critical study of Scripture in the West has adopted an analytical approach, breaking up each book into different sources. The connecting links are unraveled, and the Bible is reduced to a series of bare primary units. There is certainly value in this. But we need to see the unity as well as the diversity of Scripture, the all-embracing end as well as the scattered beginnings. Orthodoxy prefers on the whole a synthetic rather than an analytical approach, seeing Scripture as an integrated whole, with Christ everywhere as the bond of union.
By "modern" it appears he means essentially "contemporary." I would lay this approach of the "dissection" of Scripture at the doorstep of Modernism and its influence in the realm of theology, the "Queen of the Sciences."

You see such things in science in Modernism in the classification and the reductionistic nature of examination. But it oozes even into the study of God whereby God is "broken" down into His component parts, communicable and incommunicable attributes and son. While there may be some value to all of this, we are well on our way to having de-personalized God and made Him just another "object" of study.

A Biblical Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, on every page of Scripture, finds everywhere Christ.
As Orthodox Christianity is prone to typology at times where some (self included) would deem it questionable, I'm hesitant to agree without qualification. While there may not always be a direct reference, one can see an indirect reference either by allusion, or contrast, or need that only Christ satisfies. Yet, I would caution against taking too much license to where there's a great disparity between the intent of the original author/Author and what connections or allusions one can make to Christ.

The Bible as Personal

IN THE WORDS of an early ascetic writer in the Christian East, Saint Mark the Monk: "He who is humble in his thoughts and engaged in spiritual work, when he reads the Holy Scriptures, will apply everything to himself and not to his neighbor." As Orthodox Christians we are to look everywhere in Scripture for a personal application. We are to ask not just "What does it mean?" but "What does it mean to me?" Scripture is a personal dialogue between the Savior and myself—Christ speaking to me, and me answering. That is the fourth criterion in our Bible reading.
I struggled recently with John Piper's assertion that he heard the voice of God one morning. Christ is the Word (John 1:1, 14) who speaks through the Word of God. But, not only does God speak, He speaks to us. I cringe when I hear "God told me" and there isn't chapter and verse to support it. At the same time, it is possible for God to speak and us to misunderstand what He says in His Word, like claiming promises that are not ours.

For example, folks love to claim Jeremiah 29:11 ("For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.") for themselves, but why not Deuteronomy 28:22 ("The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish.")?

Certainly God speaks to His people through His Word via His Spirit, but we must understand when we are directly addressed with promises (and/or threats) directed to us and when God is sharing with you what He has done in the lives of others for our edification.

I am to see all the stories in Scripture as part of my own personal story. Who is Adam? The name Adam means "man," "human," and so the Genesis account of Adam's fall is also a story about me. I am Adam. It is to me that God speaks when He says to Adam, "Where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9). "Where is God?" we often ask. But the real question is what God asks the Adam in each of us: "Where art thou?"
It is often helpful for us to identify when the characters in the story, especially since human nature is some universal in scope. But, better yet, what role does each story play in the development of my own? What can I learn from their lessons by learning them with the characters in the story? As we read these experiences, they become part of our experiences. As we read their stories, they become part of our stories.

In reading Scripture, we may take three steps. First, what we have in Scripture is sacred history: the history of the world from the Creation, the history of the chosen people, the history of God Incarnate in Palestine, and the "mighty works" after Pentecost. The Christianity that we find in the Bible is not an ideology, not a philosophical theory, but a historical faith.

Then we are to take a second step. The history presented in the Bible is a personal history. ...

Then we are to take a third step. Reliving Biblical history in all its particularity, we are to apply it directly to ourselves. We are to say to ourselves, "All these places and events are not just far away and long ago, but are also part of my own personal encounter with Christ. The stories include me."
The first two necessitate the third. We must realize that the story continues with us as characters/players as the Author continues to write the Drama of Redemption that Displays His Glory. Far too often Scripture is not applied to the reader, neither by a preacher/teacher nor by the individual reader to his or her self.

Reading Scripture in this way—in obedience, as a member of the Church, finding Christ everywhere, seeing everything as a part of my own personal story—we shall sense something of the variety and depth to be found in the Bible. Yet always we shall feel that in our Biblical exploration we are only at the very beginning. We are like someone launching out in a tiny boat across a limitless ocean.
Our finite minds can only handle so much knowlege of the Infinite One and His ways, but I think Kallistos has given us helpful suggestions to better experience the "variety and depth" the Bible has to offer. Through our apprehension be only a drop of water in an endless sea, still it is a drop that helps to quench our thirst for the Triune God that we might know Him better.

We are like someone launching out in a tiny boat across a limitless ocean.
So, let me encourage you to ...
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.


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