Monday, March 31, 2008

Somebody's gotta keep his eye on the ball.

Today is the 65th birthday of Christopher Walken (bio - quotes).

For many years he was an actor I found rather creepy, but he's REALLY grown on me.

To celebrate his day, I submit to you some of his best--his best movies and his best roles.

(You could make a case that he plays the same role in every movie, but they do at least give him a different name in each one.)

His best movies:

  1. The Dead Zone
  2. The Deer Hunter
  3. Batman Returns
  4. The Rundown
  5. Wedding Crashers

His best roles:

  1. The Bruce Dickinson, the needer of more cowbell
  2. Hatcher in The Rundown
  3. Caesar the exterminator in Mousehunt

Any other suggestions?

Here's Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," read by Christopher Walken.

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

Here's a nice combination of 2 of my favorite press conferences of all time. Remember, you gotta practice if you're gonna make the playoffs.

Read as David Kotter asks, "Is a Woman just an Egg Factory?" It seems college newspapers are offering to buy the eggs of young, attractive, and intelligent women.
"Being paid for selling eggs, surrogate motherhood or prostitution in each case reduces a woman to the cash value of her femininity."

Check out Logan's list of top 5 singers turned actors.

Read Tim Challies book review of Colin Hansen's Young, Restless, Reformed. You may recognize the title as that of his article about the resurgence of Calvinism. (cf. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable.)
"In an article written in 2006 for Christianity Today, Collin Hansen gave us a framework to understand the contemporary revival of Reformed theology—something so many felt was happening but so few could describe. Now he invites us to journey with him on a voyage of discovery as he travels the nation, learning how our restless youth are discovering anew the great doctrines of the Christian faith."

Check out Brent Thomas on the Deadliest Sin.

Matt Waymeyer at Pulpit Magazine's blog is talking about infant baptism.
Read A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism
Read Infant Baptism and Acts 16:31-34
Read Infant Baptism and Acts 2:39

Check out these new Music Song Sheets.

Read Time Magazine's thoughts on the Internet's Effect on News. (HT Tim Challies)

Read as Paul Lamey addresses the identity of “This generation” in Matthew 24:34. He's got some interesting Greek slooge to throw a curve into the discussion.

Previously we learned of a publisher removing the crucifixion from their curriculum for preschoolers for Resurrection Sunday's material. Read about their repentance. Good for them.

Check out Jeff Wright's thoughts & resources on the link between removing the gospel from our worship services and then from our sermons.

Watch this great video clip of some gospel-centered creativity regarding Isaiah 53. (HT Tim Challies)

Check out some resources for Tactics in Defending Your Faith.

Read as Darrell Bock shares some quick thoughts on the Gospel.
"The gospel is not about avoiding something or simply having sins forgiven. All that does is set the stage for what is really the good news, namely, that God has taken the initiative to restore a broken relationship with Him that we cannot fix on our own."

Read Anthony Bradley's thoughts on Robin Williams divorcing after 19 years. Personally, I don't think he ever should have left Mindy, especially after she put up with all his, "Mork calling Orson" tomfoolery.

This is a follow up story. Read about the punishment delivered to the man who burned his 2-month-old daughter, Ana, in the microwave. This guys is ever more depraved than first thought. His punishment is not enough.
"Just before putting her in the microwave in May 2007, Mauldin had punched Ana and placed her in the room's safe and refrigerator."

Check out some free Scripture memory songs.

Check out Brother Hank's Plea To Seminarians For Open Discourse: On The (Hidden) Theology of Birth Control.

Read Johnny Mac's Who Said Doctrine Isn’t Practical?
"The idea that Christ is anti-doctrine is a foundational belief of that cult."

Read Adam Groza's Fathers, Be Good to Your Daughters.

Check out IVP's Reformation Commentary on Scripture.
"The biblical revolution of the sixteenth century was an explosive event that shook the foundations of the church and called all Christians ad fontes—back to the sources! The Reformation Commentary on Scripture brings many of these sources, some for the first time, into the hands of today's preachers and laity. My prayer is that this new series will encourage a fresh engagement with the primary sources of the Christian faith, and that this will result in the kind of God-centered Reformation that shook the world of Luther and Calvin." —Dr. Timothy George

Read Lance Ward's thoughts on Focusing on the Family ... but which one?

Read about the police busting up an underage rootbeer kegger.

Read a selection from Embryo: A Defense of Human Life.
“The human embryo is a human person worthy of full moral respect”

Read How to Complain to God: A Meditation on Psalms 42 and 43.
"In addition to honesty, a proper complaint is characterized by trust."

Rev has written about J.I. Packer on the nature of Calvinism.
Read Packer’s Points (Intro.)
Read Packer's 1st Point
Read Packer's 2nd Point
Read Packer's 3rd Point
Read Packer's 4th Point
Read Packer's 5th Point

Ever worry about what could happen to your food? Read about the cook (also a Seahawks fan) who allegedly spit on the burger of a Steelers fan. I can attest that I have seen un-special treatment for Cubs fans at Busch Stadium.

Read Mark Knox, editor of The Baptist Standard, on why Obama was right not to cut ties with Jeremiah Wright.
"You are blessed (or you’re not thinking for yourself) if you’ve never disagreed with your pastor. I like what Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow said on the subject: 'I fully understand the concept of squirming in your church pew. I’m a Southern Baptist.'"

Comment of the Week:
"Few things makes the hair on the back of our culture's neck stand up like the word 'submit.' Use it and people immediately think you are an ecclesiastical Archie Bunker." (Chris Brauns)
"No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought."
-John Stuart Mill
(Incidentally, the Bible calls that the renewing of the mind.)


Friday, March 28, 2008

Watch your mouth, kid, or you're gonna find yourself floating home.

Recently I've seen 2 little boys in public in need of a trip to the woodshed. One was rock throwing boy who wouldn't heed my admonitions and his parents were surprisingly apathetic.

Today there was a similar sort--the pusher, the taker of toys ... you know, the bully that every parent dreads seeing on the playground.

His mom finally made an attempt by sternly saying, "Sit here, 2 minutes." He defiantly said, "No!" and proceed to get up. This cycle was comical to watch on one hand, but a pathetic display of a child in need of discipline.

It reminded me of Douglas Wilson's 7 “musts” about discipline, though I can't recall where I found them.

1. Discipline must be confident. (Prov 22:15) “…The word confident literally means ‘with faith.’ Your children must be disciplined in faith, through faith, and from faith…”

2. Discipline must be affectionate. (Heb. 12:5-6) “A man who refuses to discipline his son is, in effect, disinheriting him. This rejection, or hatred, is utterly contrary to the attitude Christian parents are to have toward their children. Affectionate discipline gives the children something to return to after repentance.”

3. Discipline must be judicial. (Gal. 1:6) “Discipline must begin with self-discipline.”

4. Discipline must be swift. (Gal. 6:7) “… a godly father should remember he is not just exercising the principle, he is teaching the principle to young minds. Consequently, the time between sowing and reaping should be as short as possible. Even the youngest infant understands causation at some level, but the younger the child the more immediately he should be disciplined.”

5. Discipline must be painful. (Heb 12:11) “If the discipline is not painful, then it does not qualify as discipline…The pain involved in godly discipline is both positive and negative. Swift, painful discipline does not mean the father is to be an ogre but just the reverse…A man who is incapable of lovingly encouraging his children after discipline in not qualified to exercise any discipline at all. The encouragement must include follow up instruction… It should also include prayer. God is present and working through discipline, and His presence should be acknowledged. The child should be assured of forgiveness. The breach of fellowship is now gone. As a result, there has been restoration of fellowship. A father should take special care to be warm and cheerful after discipline.”
6. Discipline must be effective. (Heb. 12:11b)

7. Discipline must reflect biblical standards. “(a father) must not confuse house rules with God’s rules… God does not require that little kids keep their feet off the couch. This is a house rule. God does require that children obey their parents. This is God’s rule. And that is why they must keep their feet off the couch.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There are no friendly civilians!

About a year ago, in a sermon on Hebrews 13:17, Lance Ward gave some myths regarding submission:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
-Hebrews 13:17, ESV (emphasis mine)
1. Submission is the absence of disagreement.
"It is never wrong to disagree with people in the church. It is always wrong to be disagreeable."

2. Submission is the absence of accountability.
Leaders can still be and should be held accountable. A lack of submission is instead talking about the leader behind his back. Submission will still confront out of love.

3. Submission is not the squelching of non-leader leaders.
Natural leaders are needed, though they may not have a leadership position. But, such leaders need to be careful not to clash or openly rebel against the leadership, who may not embrace the agenda of the non-leader leaders.

Let me add a few thoughts of my own regarding submission in church ...

1. Submission is a tough pill to swallow, whether it's a wife to a husband (Eph 5:22-24), a child to a parent (Eph 6:1-3), or a sheep to an undershepherd (Heb 13:17). Any leader, especially in a church, worth his salt understands that. He prefers to have enthusiastic and devoted followers, not just those who grudgingly follow. (This ties into the 2nd part of Heb 13:17 - "Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.")

2. Far too many people leave churches rather than be submissive. Most people don't leave their churches because their churches have theological flaws that the leadership won't address, and perhaps they should. It's one thing to leave a church because the doctrine and practice is incongruent with biblical teaching. It's another to leave because your feelings got hurt or because a vote didn't go your way.

3. Submission is good for sanctification. Sanctification is our growing in grace, maturing as Christians. That happens best when we are put in situations that enable growth, situations that provide a fertile seedbed for the Fruit of the Spirit. When things don't go my way at church or I'm wronged, it's then that I get to display Christlike character (e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). Immaturity pouts, complains, gossips, criticizes, and/or leaves.

4. Submission may be un-American, but it's biblical. Try in vain will you to find biblical verbiage such as "no taxation without representation," but even church folk can be prone to the mindset that they don't have to do or support anything or anyone they personally didn't vote for. It's trendy to be anti-Clinton or anti-Bush or anti-the next president and demonstrate that with a "he/she's not my president" bumper sticker. But church isn't a democracy; it's a theocracy. God is in charge and He's given particular leaders to shepherd His flock and they are due honor as such (1 Tim 5:17).

5. Christians are slaves/servants of Christ, which will often mean submitting to those we deem unworthy
, whether that be in the church or in the world (Rom 13:1-7). You won't truly ever have worthy leaders, nor will you ever be a worthy follower. But unworthy followers follow unworthy leaders because Christ is worthy and His church and reputation are worthwhile.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion.

Check out Tony Kummer's March Madness ... blog-wise, that is.

He's seeded SBC blogs according to his 3 criteria and arranged them by division.

I am honored that SEMPER REFORMANDA has been invited to the tournament AND to have garnered an 8-seed in the Midwest Division.

I'm up against some big boys including my good brother Rev, so I'm clinging to the aspirations of another Cinderella story.

(I'm thinking I should have mucked it up a bit more on the SBC slooge to have received a higher seed. Lord willing, I'll know better for next year.)

Should you be so inclined to vote, click here to vote for your favorites of the field. In and of itself, it's a good collection of links for your viewing pleasure.

My Aggies were a #9 seed and within a whisker of upsetting UCLA on Saturday, a #1 seed. I hope I don't let them down and I hope to make the Sweet 16.

I also commit to represent the Lone Star State well.

Voting ends Sunday night (3/30).
*I'm Gunny, and I approved this message.*

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

Mondays can be tough, but like Francis we may need to lighten up just a bit.

This is just nuts. Read about a "Christian" publisher that has intentionally omitted the Gospel (i.e., crucifixion & resurrection of Jesus) from its curriculum because it's too scary for preschoolers. (HT Ron)
"We have made this choice because the crucifixion is simply too violent for preschoolers. And if we were to skip the crucifixion and go straight to the resurrection, then preschoolers would be confused."

Read about the Mighty Lakers' Kobe Bryant et al sounding the bell about genocide in Dafur.

Read as John MacArthur addresses Baptism for the Dead.

Check out A Prayer to the Sovereign Lord on reformation21.

Read about the rosary being the newest gang symbol.

Check out this sobering comment from Kathy on Lionel Woods' post asking, "Is it ever okay to terminate the life of the unborn?"
"I was reminded of a woman who had a partial-birth abortion at 7 months along. I read the article too long ago to remember too much of it, but she told her story so that PBA could continue–she considered it a good thing in her case. She was Catholic, and named her daughter Katherine, and had her baptized in utero, and then the doctor pulled her baby out by the legs and jammed a suction device into her skull, and sucked out her brains. That is where moral relativism got her. She named, baptized, and then killed her daughter. Brother, we must stand against that."

Read about the summary judgment in favor of Dr. Patterson et al. in the case of Dr. Sherri Klouda no longer allowed to teach Hebrew at SWBTS. (my past related post)

Read as Stephen Dubner asks, Is Divorce Good for a Candidate?

Read Brother Hank's reflection on his year-long reading of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

Read as John Piper asks, "Did Jesus spend Saturday in Hell?"

Check out Quincy Jones' thoughts on the atonement:
Part 1 - Why the Atonement of Christ is the First Doctrine of Scripture
Part 2 - (33 Reasons) Why the Atonement of Christ is the First Doctrine of Scripture
Part 3 - Why that Without the Resurrection there is NO Atonement!

Check out this chart from Andreas J. Köstenberger on the 11 recorded post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. (HT Justin Taylor)

Watch this very interesting video regarding the "Shroud of Turin" and speculation that it might be much older than originally tested in 1988. (HT Mark T)

Read Tim Challies' thoughts on Becoming a Better Apologizer.

Read about Dutch officials who “permit gay sex in public areas but fine dog owners who let their pets off the leash in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark.” (HT Brent)

Opinions have abounded all week, but check out Thabiti Anyabwile on Obama's speech responding to the situation with Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermon(s).

Read the PreachingToday interview of N.T. Wright about the resurrection.
"Some people are always going to be offended when you actually teach them what's in the Bible as opposed to what they assume is in the Bible. The preacher can try to say it a number of ways, and sometimes people just won't get it. They will continue to hear what they want to hear. But if you soft-pedal matters, they will think, Oh, he's taking us down the old familiar paths. There is a time for walking in and just saying what needs to be said."

Check out Bob Kauflin's Winner of the Most Embarrassing Moment [Leading Worship] Contest. (HT Benji) Reminds me of the After Action Review of each Sunday where we'd evaluate nominations for the "Emergency Brake of Day."

Check out Johnny Mac's thoughts on Christians and the Environment.
"Just a footnote. Though this earth is our temporary home, do take time to enjoy God’s beauty. Take care of your yard. Stop to smell the flowers. Enjoy the forests. God placed those rich resources on this planet for our comfort and His enjoyment. Let us be thankful to Him for that."

Read Michael Horton in Touchstone on the "evolving" role of the pastor. (HT Denny Burk via Lance)

Read 29 ways to glorify God as a parent.

Read about the young married love in Saudi Arabia ... among cousins, he's 11 and she's 10.

Check out Generating Excitement about Learning in Sunday School.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Read about the corn flake in the shape of Illinois that sold for $1,350 on ebay. That's nuts. Now, if it had been in the shape of Texas ...

Read about efforts to shame "Johns," the solicitors of prostitutes.

Check out an Ethics-and-values analysis of Horton Hears a Who?

Find out what's most likely to kill you by accessing figures for death probability.

Read Acknowledging Jesus as a Failed Leader on Parchment and Pen. (HT Benji via Lance)
"Legacy is what matters. Obviously no one will every match Jesus in the realm of legacy. But as we contemplate our pilgrimage in life, we must get over the self-serving concept of leadership and set our hearts and minds on legacy."

Read about the fleeing shoplifter who forgot something ... his son.

Read Your City Needs You to Blow Through Red Lights. Do they want to increase law-abiding or revenue?
"Dallas had anticipated an annual $14.8 million for red-light-running fines, money essential to keeping the cameras running — before people stopped running lights and reduced violations more than 50 percent at some locations."

Read about Time magazine's 10 Ideas that Are Changing the World.

Read about the man who got back his 1965 Mustang, 38 years after it was stolen.

Read as USA Today asks, "Has the 'notion of sin' been lost?"

Ponder whether or not your doctor is blogging about you.

Read about the 4th grader's 1986 message in a bottle that traveled for 21 years and 1,735 miles before being found.

Read about the growing and unwise reliance upon GPS in cars.

Sadly, check out that which signals the end of the Mavericks' season.

Comment of the Week:
"The problem in most congregations is that sin is treated as nothing more than a 'mere flesh wound.'" (Rev)
"All the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny are even more extraneous to the purpose of Easter than Santa is to Christmas. At least Santa Claus was based on a saint. I wonder whether even some Christian churches are making the connection between Christ's death and resurrection and victory over sin — the linchpin doctrine of Christianity."
- Al Mohler, President of SBTS


Saturday, March 22, 2008

If the witch understood the true meaning of sacrifice, she would have interpreted the deep magic differently.

Each year Providence Church holds a Good Friday service where we spend time in prayer and focus our thoughts on the cross with 7 devotional meditations on Christ’s 7 sayings on the cross.

I spoke to the 7th saying, the final recorded words of our Savior prior to His death.

The final saying of Jesus on the cross is recorded in Luke 23:46:
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

The preceding context has the temple curtain torn in two (23:45), signifying access to God through Christ.

As I pondered the words of Jesus, I wondered why Jesus felt the need to say them out loud. Surely, the text could have said something to the effect of, “Jesus committed His spirit to His Father.” Why did He need or want to call out with a loud voice? Surely, it wasn’t for God’s benefit.

I think it was not even primarily for our benefit that those words had to be spoken, but for the benefit of those eye witnesses.

“He spoke that all might hear, and that His enemies who judged Him destitute and forsaken of God might know it was not so any longer, but instead, that He was dear to His Father still, and could put His Spirit confidently into His Father’s hands.”
-Arthur Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross, 127

Jesus made it clear to them that He was not beaten and that things were once again right with Him and His Father.

What about the words themselves? What can be gleaned from Christ’s words?

First, they are a recitation of Psalm 31:5. Psalm 31 is David’s call to God to be saved from his enemies.
1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. (ESV)

It wasn’t that Jesus couldn’t think of anything original to say, but here He identified with David’s sentiment and confidence that God would deliver Him.

Second, these words show us how important Scripture was to Christ.

We have seen the importance of Scripture in the life of Christ as He fulfilled it. But we also see the importance of Scripture by His use of it.

For example, during His time of testing, the devil's 3 propositions were met with 3 responses from Scripture.
  1. His challenged with a test to turn stones into bread, but He quotes Deut 8:3, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” (Luke 4:4)
  2. He is offered all the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down to the devil, but He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13, saying, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” (Luke 4:8)
  3. He is tested by Satan’s use of Scripture to cast Himself down from a lofty place since God will send His angels to protect Him, but Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16, saying, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke 4:12)
In Luke 23:46, we see the last words on His lips prior to His death were Scripture.

Third, we see in the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” the contentment of Christ.
“These words set before us the last act of the Saviour ere He expired. It was an act of contentment, of faith, of confidence, and of love.”
-Arthur Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross, 127
I appreciate the HCSB’s translation of “entrust” (παρατίθημι). Christ’s commitment of His immaterial part to the Father is an act of faith and trust. Moments before Jesus had cried out asking why His God had forsaken Him (Matt 27:46), but after the wrath has been absorbed, He expresses great confidence in Him who had been His tormentor.

I find in that thought great comfort and conviction.
“We must show that we are freely willing to die, that we firmly believe in another life after this, and are desirous of it, by saying, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
- Matthew Henry
We often pray for sick people to get well, but without a realization of how to pray should God not be so inclined. We forget to pray for “dying grace.”

We want our lives to be an expression of our faith, but our deaths should do that as well.

We recently had a family member die of cancer. She was doing rather well at Thanksgiving, but then took a dramatic turn for the worse shortly after Christmas. She was being kept alive artificially and was asked by her family if she was ready to go.

With great confidence in Christ to save, she said she was. After the disconnection, she was dead within minutes.

Paul says the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor 15:26) Because Christ has conquered it in His resurrection, we can face it as well. When we face death in the face, will we be able to confidently say, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”?

Scripture often speaks of the hand of God with regard to power, but also with regard to security. Jesus tells us in John 10:29 that, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.”

There is security and contentment being in the hand of God for the believer. Christ has absorbed the wrath that was due us, for it is finished.

However, the same is not true for those who are not Christ’s. In fact, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:31)

Fourth, in Christ’s words we are reminded of the voluntary and authoritative nature of His death.

Jesus had said in John 10:14-18
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

In Christ's words, He initiates the separation of His material and immaterial parts. Christ had been given into the hands of the Gentiles, and they would still have His body for a few days. However, His spirit they will not have, nor did they break.

His material and immaterial parts will be joined again at His resurrection and in the same way, our bodies await redemption in the grave until they are reunited with our immaterial part.

Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

If we are in Christ, we commit ourselves, our lives, and our deaths into the hands of our Father, longing for the day of our final redemption.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Oh! Youth is wasted on the wrong people!

As you (and I) get another day older, it's time for a whimsical look at the aging process. I got this in an email ... uh ... some time ago from ... some human.

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor's permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotard on, the class was over.
Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman: "And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" the reporter asked. She simply replied, "No peer pressure."
The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Christmas presents.
Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, "How old was your husband?" "98," she replied. "Two years older than me."
"So you're 96," the undertaker commented. She responded, "Hardly worth going home is
I've sure gotten old. I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees. Fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But, thankfully, I still have my driver's license.
My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.
I've still got it, but nobody wants to see it.
I'm getting into swing dancing. Not on purpose. Some parts of my body are just prone to swinging .
It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffeemaker.
These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, "For fast relief."
Don't think of it as getting hot flashes. Think of it as your inner child playing with matches.
Don't let aging get you down. It's too hard to get back up.
Remember: You don't stop laughing because you grow old, You grow old because you stop laughing.
Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Now, I think you're supposed to send this to 5 or 6, maybe 10 ... Uh, just send it to a bunch of your friends if you can remember who they are....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You're just banging 2 coconuts together.

On Sunday I preached on depravity, that inherited tendency and inclination toward sin, using Jeremiah 17:5-10, with an emphasis on 17:9.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Driving through town on Monday something caught my eye. There's a church looking to sell its building and there were 2 men doing some improvements, one of which was painting.

I noticed they were merely painting over the terribly rusted wrought iron fence. That reminded me of Mark 7:14-23, which I shared on Sunday morning. Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for a bogus understanding of practical holiness.

Contrasting the popular notion that a person was defiled by what went in to the body, Jesus explained that a person is defiled by what comes out. (Mark 7:20)

We have to let that sink in just a bit because we live in a time where folks are still prone to think that smoking or drinking or eating certain foods makes a person "unclean" or "defiled" or "unholy" or "sinful."

How easily we forget that defilement comes from our own depravity ("heart") and is manifest in various forms (cf. Mark 7:21-23; Luke 6:45).

Abstaining from irrelevant social "sins" is just one aspect of creating a false holiness, but there's also the "external only" holiness that misses the point. It's actually rather easy to cease doing some of the "big" sins, but never really address the "heart" of the matter, our own depravity.

It's not that hard to clean the outside of the cup or whitewash the tomb. True Christianity seeks transformation from the inside out as the Spirit works within in the renewing of the mind (Rom 12:2).

Someday somebody will realize they bought a rusted fence. People will eventually find out if you're not really riding on a horse, but just banging 2 coconuts together.

Just as African swallows are non-migratory, so will the veneer of Christianity prove problematic.

One of the great fears I have for my kids is that they will establish an external morality (only), without experiencing inward renewal through the regenerating Holy Spirit as they realize they need Christ not merely to clean up their act.

To use the words of Augustus Toplady, we need Christ to "be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

Recently, Matt Bradley addressed the issue of medium & message (Form vs. Substance) using Scary Mary (Poppins). Along those lines, here's a tune familiar to many of us, but with a bit of a different flair to it. (HT Truck '93)

Check out the new IMB sponsored website entitled, “Commission Stories.” (HT Rev)
The purpose of the site is to communicate the work God is doing across the globe through missionaries. The IMB is encouraging people to use the pictures, video, text and presentations to inform and inspire others about how “God is moving today among every nation, tribe, people and language.”

Read as Christianity Today attempts to ask & answer, "What Makes a Church Missional?"

Vote for your Legendary March (Madness) Moments. A humble suggestion ...
March 24, 1979: Magic Johnson, Michigan State, NCAA Final Four vs Penn
Johnson pushed the Spartans into the title game againt Indiana State with a near-perfect performance in a 101-67 rout of Penn. He was 9-for-10 from the field and 11-for-12 from the foul line for 29 points, and he made it a triple double with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Watch a 3-minute video clip about the book, Instructing a Child’s Heart, the sequel to Shepherding a Child's Heart. Read the table of contents and the preface. (HT Justin Taylor)

Read A Call Girl’s View of the Spitzer Affair.

Check out this site with a list of the greatest athletes to wear each jersey number (1-99, Ozzie Smith through Wayne Gretsky) and the greatest NFL players to wear each number.

View this Procrastination Flow Chart ... if you ever get around to it.

Read about the research that suggests, "Most Americans believe in sin, but differ widely on just what it is."

Read about the firefighter who used CPR to save a dog's life.

Read Discipleship Journal's 38 Ways to Wake Up Your Sunday School Class.

Read about shorter people being more prone to jealousy.

Read about the Florida Senate's measures to ban "sagging" or "droopy" pants in public schools.

Read as Lionel Woods asks, "Is it ever okay to terminate the life of the unborn?????"

Read quotes from Calvin, Warfield, and Erroll Hulse on John 3:16 and God's love for "the world."

Read about how Most Physicians Sleep Fewer Hours Than Needed For Peak Performance. What other occupations might fall into that category, I wonder.

Read about the church in Waterford Township, Michigan, suing government officials after repeated raids over praise & worship deemed disturbing to the peace.
"Uniformed police officers entering a church during religious services and young church members being threatened with prosecution is something that happens in communist China, not in America," said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, the Ann Arbor-based national public interest law firm that filed the church's lawsuit.

Read about how the Treasury Secretary would like to get rid of the penny.

Read about how Obama's church could be in legal trouble after the controversial endorsement of Obama for president. Read about the church bowing up in response to criticism.

Read 6 Interview Mistakes when looking for a job.

Check out Tim Challies on Loving the Sinner More than the Sinner Loves His Sin.

Comment of the Week:
"I figure getting mentioned in, "A Case of the Monday's," is sort of the Christian blogger's equivalent of getting his picture on the Cover of Rolling Stone." (Chris Brauns)
"Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow. Delay may give clearer light as to what is best to be done."
- Aaron Burr


Thursday, March 13, 2008

You've got mail. Yes. Three very powerful words.

For your edification/enjoyment, I share with you an email discussion I had over 5 years ago. It was initiated by a man who received our "Come visit our church" flyer.

I've labeled the sequence of the emails as well as color coded them. I've also changed the man's name to "Sir" to prevent any potential for embarrassing a brother. (So, if the conversation seems too formal at times, remember we are actually addressing each other on a first name basis throughout, instead of actually using the more formal, "Sir.")

Honestly, the name's not that important because he's not alone. I get such random drive-by emails all the time.
> > > To: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"
> > > From: "Sir"

Pastor - I received your pamphlet by mail yesterday and have a comment or two. First, I believe I'm called as an evangelist, although I'm not presently functioning in that office. I presently attend a non-denominational church in ______ and have since 1980. Prior, as a kiddo, I attended FBC in ______ as my ancestry was Southern Baptist, founders of Southwestern Theological Seminary, presided over the Southern Baptist Convention, board chairmen of Baylor Univ. and Hospital. Of course, I've learned from the apostle Paul to count my resume dung.

I've not heard of the Cambridge Declaration. I looked it up and read through it a moment ago. I'm confused by it. It talks of ministering the Law along with the Gospel. Is the Law referring to the 10? If so, I can't believe the Holy Spirit would lead one to minister both.

Galations [sic] 3 says that the people were bewitched because they departed from the Gospel and quickly returned to the Law of Moses, which certainly implies that they are two very different doctrines. One of the old covenant and one of the new. That's serious. You must know there are countless scriptures referring to the Law as "Not of faith", and that the "Just shall live by faith."

1st Timothy 1, 9 says that we ought to know that the Law doesn't apply to righteous men. How are you righteous? Roman 1, 16 & 17 says it's revealed in the Gospel. But only if you believe it. The Gospel is the power of God. (demonstrated in the resurrection - 1st Cor 15, 1-4) That's why Jesus told us to repent and believe the Gospel, not repent and believe the Cambridge Declaration, nor the Law.

If I misread the declaration, I'm happy to be corrected.

In His service,
> > > From: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"
> > > To: "Sir"


Thanks for your comments and I'd appreciate any others with regard to our pamphlet or anything else. I certainly appreciate a critical eye so we might improve upon that which we do, Semper Reformanda.

However, I do think you must have misread the Cambridge Declaration. You noted that "Jesus told us to repent and believe the Gospel, not repent and believe the Cambridge Declaration, nor the Law."

If the Cambridge Declaration is to be internally consistent, it cannot be advocating any such thing, for that would be inconsistent with Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, AND Sola Fide. ; )

With regard to the use of "Law and Gospel" I'm actually a bit puzzled as to how you would miss the use of the law in evangelism, especially as an evangelist. It's the Law that brings forth knowledge of sin and is perfect toward converting the soul (Ps 19:7). Paul said he would not have known sin, but by the law (Rom 7:7). Gal 3 that you mentioned notes the proper use of the law, to be a tutor to lead us to Christ (3:24) and it's the believer who has a different relationship to the law (3:25).

The law is a mirror to show us our sin and the need for cleansing, forgiveness, etc. (i.e., the Gospel). It's like Spurgeon noted in his Lectures to My Students in the section "On Conversion As Our Aim" ... "It is of no use trying to sew with the silken thread of the gospel unless we pierce a way for it with the sharp needle of the law. The law goes first, like the needle, and draws the gospel thread after it." Clearly there is a purpose for preaching the law, if not a necessity, with regard to justification.

But what about sanctification? Is there any purpose there? Now, that being said, there is the question over the definition of "The Law," but you'll note that the Cambridge Declaration reads "if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching," and not "The Law" or The 10 Commandment or the Old Testament or the Pentateuch, etc. I think there's a double meaning here.

Taking this statement in light of the totality of the Cambridge Declaration and in light of the Reformation, but mostly from my New Testament, I think there is an emphasis on justification, but sanctification as well.

Let me explain, for here it is helpful to understand law as not merely referring to the Decalogue or even the Old Covenant, which a Gentile like me was never under. That covenant is obsolete and I'm a part of the New.

However, that does not mean there is no guiding principle of "law" on how to live the Christian life. There is, of course, the "Law of Christ" (Gal 6:2) which seems to entail the standards that Christ has set for His people with regard to their behavior, for which Christians will all one day give an account (2 Cor 5:10).

To be fair, the standards of that judgment are clearly displayed in the teachings of Christ (Matt 5-7, etc.) and the imperatives in the epistles of Paul, John, Peter, etc. Even the authoritative "Great Commission" entails teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded (Matt 28:18-20).

Thus, in the life of the believer one needs to hear the standards of God preached so that he/she can be conformed to the image of His Son, confessing sin when appropriate, etc. So, perhaps another rendering of law in this sense would be obligation so that one is exhorted to preach duty
(Law) and God's grace (Gospel) for forgiveness when we fall short.

I think perhaps that your initial confusion had to do with justification, but salvation is and has always been by grace alone through faith alone, never through the law (Gal 2:21; Rom 4). That has not changed, but the rule or obligation for one of God's people is dramatically different in
the Old Covenant vs. the New, as is the empowering of the Holy Spirit, etc.

In short, the Law is useful in evangelism so people will know they have a disease (sin), else they would never want the cure (justification). The Law (in the sense of the standards of God) are useful and necessary for believer to know and do that which is pleasing in His sight, in becoming holy (sanctification).

I hope this helps, but please let me know if not.

By His grace and for His glory,
Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman, pastor
> > From: "Sir"
> > To: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"

Eric- It is plain that the writers of the declaration wish for the church to repent and believe it. But it's the power of God (the Gospel) that converts one to the image of Jesus, not the declaration, nor the law, is what I meant.

Gal 3:2 asks if they received the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? You said they should hear the preaching of the law in order to be converted. But Galations [sic] says they were foolish and bewitched for listening.

1st Timothy 1 says if you desire to teach the law, not only do you not know what you're saying, nor whereof you affirm, but he calls you a vain jangler. I'm not going to be a vain jangler. I'm going to preach the Gospel!

> From: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"
> To: "Sir"


Although I'm enjoying the discussion, I'm just a little confused. Are you insinuating that the Cambridge Declaration is setting itself up as a replacement of the Gospel?

Also, are you seriously denouncing the use of the law in evangelism? Clearly the Gospel is the medicine for what ails, but it's the law that diagnoses it. What about the verses I noted about the use of the law therein?

I'd be curious as to how you could preach the Gospel properly or effectively without mentioning the standards of God that have not been met (i.e., the law).

Lastly, it seems to me, Sir, that you have developed a false dichotomy, as though one preaches either the law OR the Gospel. The law is no substitute, but the forerunner of sorts (cf. the ministry of John the Baptist prior to Christ - he called attention to their sin, calling them to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matt 3:2), the exact same message of Christ (Matt 4:17)).

With regard to the Galatians, I did not say that they should hear the preaching of the law in order to be converted, for that would be redundant. The Galatians had already heard the law and it had done its job (Gal 3:24-25).

With regard to 1 Timothy 1 that you noted, in v.8 it notes "But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully." Clearly, Paul is not saying, "Never use the law," but on the contrary he's saying that the law must be used properly.

I guess my questions for you would be 3-fold:
1. What does Paul mean in 1 Tim 1:8; how should one use the law properly?
2. How do you define the Gospel? and
3. How does one preach the imperatives of the Bible (OT & NT) apart from those calling one to faith in Christ?

Sola gratia,
From: "Sir"
To: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"

Let's take the Cambridge Declaration for what it is. It's the opinions of some folks that got together and said, the scripture is not enough, we must have churches adopt this as part of their doctrine - when we've already been told to simply preach the Gospel to every creature.

Would you agree that Philip - the evangelist -preached an effective Gospel? There's no evidence of him teaching the law. It says he preached Christ unto them and miracles took place afterward, which is a scriptural result of preaching the Gospel. Philip then went to the eunuch, who was reading about Jesus in Isaiah, and he preached Jesus to him as well, baptized him and didn't bother teaching him the 10.

Jesus discussed the law in Matthew for sure. He said it's not even adequate. And I know he came to fulfill the law. What do you do when you fulfill a jail sentence for instance, you walk away from it.

Answers to your questions - 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 defines the Gospel as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus - and wherein we stand. But the Gospel is more than words, as Romans 1:16 says the Gospel is the power (or ability) of God to those who believe (hence the things that took place after Philip spoke, and they believed).

As far as using the law lawfully, I won't say I have a revelation of that verse because I don't. But Timothy is clear about folks that desire to preach it. I agree that the law applies to a certain group, but the people who preached it were bewitching the body of Christ, shutting up their faith and putting them in bondage. And, I didn't say to omit the OT in your teaching, those passages are there for our learning, as stated by Jesus.

One can surely preach the law along with the Gospel. It's done every Easter by teachers of the law. But the ones [sic] who attempts to combine the 2 is in the flesh, and obviously doesn't have a revelation of the Gospel. It will change the heart of a man by the power of God and you won't have to point out his sin! It's amazing.

> From: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"
> To: "Sir"


You brought up a great many issues and I think it would be easier for my small brain to deal with them in multiple emails.

I'll try to give your comments a more fair treatment shortly, but this part most puzzled me.

"... It will change the heart of a man by the power of God and you won't have to point out his sin! It's amazing."

When you preach the Gospel, with a goal toward salvation I assume, what do you tell people they must be saved from?

Even the 1 Cor 15 you noted says that He died .... for our sins.

What is the Gospel you’re preaching saving from, if not sin?


> From: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"
> To: "Sir"

You wrote: "Jesus discussed the law in Matthew for sure. He said it's not even
adequate. And I know he came to fulfill the law. What do you do when you fulfill a jail sentence for instance, you walk away from it."

I assume you're speaking of Matt 5 of the Sermon on the Mount. My question for you would be your exegesis of Matt 5:17-20:
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these
least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

In particular, to what is Jesus referring in v.19? It seems as though He's castigating breakers of the commandments of the law and at the same time heralding those who do AND teach them.

Is that not how you see what Christ is saying?


> From: "Rev. Eric "Gunny" Hartman"
> To: "Sir"


One other quickie ...

You wrote: "Let's take the Cambridge Declaration for what it is. It's the opinions of some folks that got together and said, the scripture is not enough, we must have churches adopt this as part of their doctrine - when we've already been told to simply preach the Gospel to every creature."

Actually, that's not true, Sir. We're not told to "simply preach the Gospel to every creature."

For example, Christ commanded (i.e., not an optional activity) that His followers teach all that He had commanded in the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). Paul proclaimed "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).

I feel almost silly telling you this, for I assume you know it, but The Cambridge Declaration is like a "Creed," coming for the Latin "creedo" which simply means "I believe." It's not uncommon for churches to have statements of faith historically, in fact it's odd when they don't. If you look at the early church's conciliar proclamations you see creeds of what is orthodoxy (i.e., not heresy).

For example, a heretic would be one who denies the trinity. Now, "trinity" is not a word found in the Bible, but it is a label for a biblical concept. I'm not aware of what church you presently attend, but I'm sure they have some sort of notion of commonly held beliefs, whether explicit or not. I doubt they would allow a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon to teach a Sunday school class since they believe differently. A formal, written creed is not necessary to decipher that, but it can be a useful means of such.

Your SBC ancestors would not have been in opposition to a statement of faith. For example, many Baptists held to the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1644 or 1689) until we had the first SBC creed in 1858 (The Abstract of Principles). In 1925 the SBC Baptist Faith & Message was produced, being revised in 1963, 1998, and 2000.

I find it odd that you're not on board with The Cambridge Declaration as you see it as a statement of biblical insufficiency (although the document itself attests to such sufficiency), but you've said nothing about our church affirming the Baptist Faith & Message. Would you make the same criticism of it as well (i.e., your comments I quoted above)?


I never heard back from him after his last email, #5 above.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

That's it, man. Game over, man. Game over.

In the church mail today was a tract, one of those "Good News & Bad News" types.

The cover art was attractive, so I thought I'd check it out.

Early on I read this:
"Because of our sin, we have earned eternal separation from the God who created us. This is the bad news."

I thought, "If I was a non-Christian, would I think this was bad news?"

Honestly, would a non-Christian (i.e., one who hates God) really care that he/she doesn't get to hang out with God?

"Eternal separation from God" is almost as impotent as a "Christ-less eternity."

Non-Christian, let me speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) ...

The "Bad News" is that you stand under the wrath of a holy God because of your sin(fulness) and apart from having God's anger appeased by Christ's work on the cross for you, which happens through faith alone in Him, you will endure an eternity in hell, where God is not absent, but rather afflicts you with His wrath forever more.

Now THAT is bad news.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

Some good bull from the USMC Silent Drill Platoon at a Nuggets game. (HT NCGuy)

Read about the study that found that Daylight Saving Time actually uses more energy, as opposed to saving it, as was originally argued.

Read about how a Series of blunders turned the plastic bag into global villain.
“The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for perhaps a few species.For birds, plastic bags are not a problem either.”

Read the Sports Illustrated article that as great as he was, Brett Favre could have been better.
What could have been - Popularity, skills prevented Favre from true greatness.

Check out the conversation Rev shared that transpired between Charles Simeon & Charles Wesley over the issue of Calvinism & Arminianism.
“Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.”

Scope out this interview of Eugene Peterson posted by Chris Brauns, who is wise to point out that he doesn't "agree with everything Eugene Peterson says" as a caveat. Whoa, that was close.

Grammar Girl's Top 10 Grammar Myths.

Read about why Sixteen Candles is better than Pretty in Pink. (HT Oilcan)

These are some whacked out parent & kid depravity.
  • Read about the man who put his kids in the dryer for cheap fun.
  • Read about the woman who tried to teacher her 3-6 year old daughter about respect with a high pressure car wash.
  • Read about the mother who fell asleep with her baby in the tub.
  • Read about the man caused 3rd degree burns to his 2 month old daughter by putting her in the hotel microwave.
  • Read about the most heinous, the Syrian man who decapitated his 15 month old nephew in front of the boys parents because he was mad at them. Oh, yeah, you heard that right. In the supermarket, in front of everyone.

This is genius. See/Buy a pair of these "Left Behind" shorts (jogging pants available as well). (HT Tom Johnson)

Check out this AMAZING deep sea footage showing creatures that sure look intelligently designed. (HT NCGuy)
David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a shape-shifting cuttlefish, a pair of fighting squid, and a mesmerizing gallery of bioluminescent fish that light up the blackest depths of the ocean.

Check out the list of Packer on Owen slooge assembled by Justin Taylor.

Check out Tony LaRussa's disdain for the DH.
"I think it's more of a game when the pitcher is in the lineup."

Read Tim Challies on the Progressive Nature of Revelation.

Read about the Men's Health list of 20 Worst Foods. (HT Anthony Bradley)
(2) Chili's Awesome Blossom--2,710 calories; 203 g fat; 194 g carbs; 6,360 mg sodium

Check out the 50 Funniest Films of the 80s.
41-50, 31-40, 21-30, 11-20, 1-10.

Check out one of newest favorite websites: Stuff White People Like. I have a few white friends and this stuff describes them perfectly!
#83 Bad memories of high school
#75 Threatening to Move to Canada
#71 Being the only white person around
#62 Knowing What’s Best for Poor People
#20 Being an expert on YOUR culture
#17 Hating their parents
#9 Making you feel bad about not going outside
#4 Assists
(Here's their Whole List.)

Read Noel Piper on How I Fight Bossiness.

Check out the Biggest Grossing Movies of All Time (adjusted for inflation).

Read Brent Thomas' thoughts on Dr. Seuss' new "Pro-Life" message in Horton Hears a Who.

Read Al Mohler's thoughts in response to the CA virtual ban on homeschooling.

Check out these short-term missions ideas.

Read Wendy Alsup on How to Ruin a Women's Ministry. (HT Joe Thorn)

Read Nathan Busenitz on the principles that should guide Christians who interact on blogs.
(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4)

Read the thoughts of Reformation 21's Rick Phillips on Church "Visions."
Is it necessary or even advisable for churches to make 5-year or 10 year plans? Or is such a practice a corruption of the spiritual calling of the church? My response consists of the following 7 points, which I will flesh out below:

Read as John Piper asks, Do Jews Have a Divine Right in the Promised Land?

Read about the Elements of Comedy, by taking a look at Steve Martin on the Kennedy assassination.

Read Ray Fowler's Palm Sunday sermon, the events told from the perspective of Jesus' donkey.

Check out the upcoming "dialogue" between Dan Wallace & Bart Ehrman on the topic of The Textual Reliability of the New Testament. (HT Ron)

Read about the German postal worker who kept 29,000 pieces of undelivered mail in his home, which he had collected over 15 years.

Read about the Italian man jailed for emailing pornographic pictures of his ex-girlfriend without her consent.

Read about 2 moms who got in a brawl at Chuck E. Cheese because one of the sons was "hogging" one of the games.

Comment of the Week:
"On a side note, contrary to Gunny who likes Terms of Endearment because of the Shirley MacLaine romance, I like Terms of Endearment because Debra Winger dies at the end."(Oilcan)
"Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."
-George Jackson


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting