Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tech based on "The Office"?

I literally LOLed (it does happen) when I saw this scene from NBC's "The Office":

To my surprise, there seems to be something out there like it.  Not the Woof, but the Hoot.  Huh.

Friday, June 25, 2010

FF: Vuvuzela, for your listening pleasure

First, the reason more people aren't watching the World Cup:

The historic consensus on vuvuzelas:

And the all-time best parody:

And just because it's soccer-related:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Harold Camping and Family Radio

About twelve or so years ago I began to see the problems with my independent, fundie Baptist ways (not with all of it, just some problems). 

One issue I was challenged on was predestination ("No, you can't believe in that! That's what *Calvinists* believe!" was the sum of my reply, not that I knew what a Calvinist was at the time).  My friend, who was more patient with me than I deserved (no, I did not put the "fun" in fundamentalist) showed me some passages I had somehow never read.  Huh.

Then things got interesting: he directed me to the radio ministry of someone who was helping him understand what the Bible had to say about the election of the saints.

Harold Camping.

I listened for months before suspecting something was wrong.  This was mainly because he was focusing on the doctrine of election at the time (as much as I remember from that deep sound that made the hot, Florida nights a little eerie).  I remember going back to my friend after a while and saying something like, "Is Camping teaching that the church age is over?"  My friend, who had not listened for a month or so at this point due to other obligations, began to listen carefully with me.

Something was off about his teaching.  I was listening to other radio personalities by this point, including those from some watchdog ministries, and there was no doubt.  This man to whom we had given ear was telling us to leave our churches or face the wrath of God.  We didn't need the church.  We had the Holy Spirit.  We had Bibles.  And we had Camping on the radio.

Let me tell you, this kind of message is more appealing to a young believer with few years life experience who is also now attending a seeker-driven church.  I had incidentally realized by this point that our new church was not as sound in its teaching as it could be.

But that doesn't mean Camping was right, does it?
High-risk teaching ahead.

Of course, my wife and I were soon married and we as well as our mutual friend stayed in the church and chose other Bible teachers.

The truth was out: Camping had predicted the end of the world a few years earlier, and was now trying to correct his mistaken eschatology by telling people to leave their places of worship and only listen to him on the radio.  His station dropped every outside teacher.  Camping was the only one left preaching truth.

It just didn't make sense at the time, but I've since learned that successful false prophets preach as much truth as they can while still being consistent with their heresies.  That is about as nice as one can be about this.

Camping predicting the world will end May 21, 2011:

AOMin has put together a resource list for those who want information.  Perhaps you know someone who has been "Harold-ed" over to this cult (bad pun, I know), and you want to help them out.  Of course, pray and be loving: those following a false teacher are deceived and need God's grace and freedom.

For everyone else who just needs a laugh when thinking about this, here is a handy doomsday clock.  It counts down to the apparent rapture and the beginning of the end.  You know, the earthquake so violent that it will open every grave ever dug so God can get to the bodies.  God's teleporter can't reach underground, apparently, but they had that same problem on the Enterprise.

Created by OnePlusYou

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Christians Arrested, Harassed by Police in Minnesota

You might remember that a year ago, a small group of Christian missionaries went to the annual Arab festival in Dearborn and were harassed by security guards.  (I say missionaries because this was an ethnic celebration, not an Islamic/religious one as some have misunderstood.)

On Friday, June 18, they were back at the festival.  This time the police decided it would be easier to simply arrest the Christians.  Why?  Who knows?  They were not impeding traffic or causing a disruption.  They were avoiding speaking on Islam and simply shared the message "Jesus loves you."  

Their cameras were confiscated by police and have yet to be returned.  Upon their release from prison, though, they released the following video with other footage provided by another person:

(HT: Acts 17)

Jesus promised believers this kind of behavior when they obey His word.  I know there are Christians who are intentionally rude to police to try to get some kind of badge of honor, but I see no evidence of anything unbiblical about their approach.  In fact, I have some friends who might say that they were too soft in their evangelistic approach, so this is obviously a case of persecution on the part of Dearborn police in the video (not to besmirch the name of other Dearborn police who would not support this false arrest).

Of course, being gluttons for punishment, they went right back to the festival.  This time, however, they did not enter but stood on a street corner distributing copies of The Gospel of John in English and Arabic.

Guess who shows up three minutes later:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bitterness is...

Just some food for thought:
"Bitterness is the pill we eat hoping that it will poison someone else" (Unknown)

Ephesians 4:31-32:
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Romans 14:10-13:
"Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother."
 One more passage to consider - Col 3:8, 9, 12, 13
"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."

Have a good weekend, and ponder the wondrous mercies and grace of Christ.

FF: This is why I stopped bowling with my father

 (HT: SenorGif)

Of course, in a lesson of the importance of role models, the Jedi aren't much better.

Not that I am saying that my father is a Sith lord, of course.  Or a bad role model...

Uh, Happy Father's Day, by the way...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

ComingSoon.net has posted the official trailer and woo-wee, it looks like this movie is sticking closer to the book! 

December 10 in, yes, you guessed it, 3D. 

(Maybe it will outdo that awful Avatar flick.)

God's Blueprint for Relationships

The Trinity is not an abstract theological concept, one that can be debated among academia but has no direct impact upon the believer.  It provides us with the blueprint for how godly relationships are to operate.

He that made mankind in the beginning male and female is three Persons in perfect unity.  He that instituted marriage knows what it is to be "one."  The Trinity might be confusing to some when they are trying to comprehend it, it provides us a snapshot of what we were created for in our relationships.

Stuart Scott points this out in his book, The Exemplary Husband (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2002, pp. 51-52).  Here is what he gleans from his studies:

Within the relationships of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) there is:

  • A willingness to deny self (Mark 14:32-36; Phil 2:5-9).
  • Honor and respect - though equality exists (John 8:49; 2 Pet 1:17).
  • Submission to an order of authority - though equality exists (John 8:28-29; 14:31; 16:13; 1 Cor 11:3).
  • Humility (John 16:14; Phil 2:1-11; 1 Cor 11:3).
  • Unity (Deut 6:4; John 10:30, 38; 14:10-11, 23; 17:11)
  • Uniqueness of Personhood - three distinct persons (Luke 3:21-22;  John 1:31-34; 14:23-26; Acts 5:3-4).
  • Perfect communication (John 8:28; 15:15; 16:13; 2 Pet 1:17)
  • Involvement and cooperation (Gen 1:26; Luke 4:1; John 14:23; Col 1:12-20)
  • Knowledge of the other Persons (Matt 11:27; John 8:55; 15:15; 1 Cor 2:10)
  • Expressions of thankfulness (Matt 11:25; 15:36; 26:27; Luke 10:21; John 11:41)
  • Verbal expressions of love, goodness, blessing and service (John 15:9-10; 17:4, 23; Rom 15:3; Gal 5:22; Col 1:19).
  • Truthfulness/Trustworthiness (John 3:33; 14:17; Tit 1:1-2; Heb 6:18).
  • Utmost concern for God's truth and glory (John 16:14; 17:1, 5, 24).

Definition of trust

Trust God in your Gospel-driven life:
Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us. (Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, p. 200)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Should we get married?

I just finished an excellent article called “Should We Get Married?” by David Powlison and John Yenchko (Journal of Biblical Counseling, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 33-42), available online here. Below is my summary, basically quotations from the paper, but I still recommend the article because it has excellent discussion questions for you and your fiancĂ©e.

If you are already married and reading this, you may find this to be a good cause to review your own relationship that it might grow.

• Are you both Christians?
o Are you looking to marriage to make you happy or complete, to give you identity or purpose?
  • Do you hope marriage will remove a sense of despair, inadequacy, failure, bitterness, or isolation?
  • Will marriage make your life “come together?”
  • Do you believe your spouse will meet all of your desires?
o Are you thinking of marrying a non-Christian? (see 2 Cor 6:14–16)
o Do either of you have complicating entanglements or relationships?
o Has God given you the gift of singleness? (Matt 19:11–12; 1 Cor 7:1–9; 7:17–40)
  • Are you getting married only because you have been taught that the ideal Christian is a married one?
  • Is marriage an idol in your life?
• Do you have a track record of solving problems biblically?
o Do you know how to solve problems biblically?
o Do you do what the Bible says?
o Where do you need to change and grow to become a wiser person?
• Are you heading in the same direction for life? Considering the command to “leave and cleave:”
o Some leaving questions:

  • Are you willing to make a break emotionally with your parents?
  • Are you willing to make a break financially?
  • Are you willing to break with your friends and single life?
  • Are you willing to break with your job?
  • Are you willing to break with the right single people have to make independent decisions?

o Some cleaving questions:

  • Where are you going in your life?
  • What is your basic lifestyle?
  • What level of financial and material expectations do you have?
  • What level and kinds of church involvement do you desire?
  • Are you basically agreed in your theology?
  • What are the views and attitudes towards roles of men and women, husband and wife?
  • How many children do you want?
  • How often will you visit parents?
• What do others who know you well think of your relationship? (see Prov 12:15; 15:22)
o Ask others who know you.
o Ask people who know how to make a marriage work.
o Ask people who will help you look at a marriage from a Christian point of view.
o Ask your parents.
• Do you want to marry this person? Are you willing to accept each other just the way you are? (see 1 Cor 7:25–40)
o Are you getting married because of spiritual manipulations (someone says “I know it’s God’s will”)?
o Are you getting married because of fear, guilt, social pressure, or a twisted sense of fate?
o Are you harboring secret reservations?
o Do you want to marry this person? Are you willing to accept each other just the way you are? Is my “yes” a simple “yes” (Matt 5:37)?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hey, maybe I will start watching soccer

This couldn't wait for a funny Friday. I guess people in other countries like this sport, and now I'm beginning to see why:

Unfortunately, no Jedi trick can drown out the vuvuzela.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Kids and Olive Trees

This is what Psalm 128:3 says about the God-fearing family, and this is what Wayne Mack points this out in his book, Your Family God's Way (Phillipsburg, NY: P & R Publishing, 1991).

He writes, "A plant has independent existence.  A branch is simply a part of the tree" (43).  Olive trees were among the most valuable crops of the Ancient Near East, important for a variety of purposes and applications.  Of course, our kids are a valuable "crop," but we see them as individuals, not mere extensions of ourselves.

Said another way, our goal is to raise them up to make wise and godly decisions on their own.  Mack writes it like this: "In your parenting, provide fences, not straitjackets.  Establish biblical limits and then train your children to obey them. ... As they mature, the fences can be expanded so that your children assume more and more responsibility for their own lives."

As your own very important "crop," you alone are responsible for your children's well-being.  Mack writes, "A key teaching of Psalm 128:3 is that your children are to be like olive plants around your table.  Before God, you, and not the state or the school or even the church, are responsible for providing for your children (Ps. 23:4; 1 Tim 5:8).  You are to nurture them for God" (45).

Of course, we are including here the spiritual needs of our children.  But there is also an image of togetherness here that comes through the grid of fearing God.  As such, even family cohesion can be an extension of Gospel-living.  "This picture of your children live olive plants around your table conveys the idea of fellowship and loyalty.  It suggests that building your family God's way involves developing family cohesiveness and togetherness."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What do God-fearing people look like?

Wayne Mack answers this in his book, Your Family God's Way (Phillipsburg, NY: P & R Publishing, 1991).  Psalm 128:1-4 says:

1 Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.

Here are Mack's insights (p. 5):
God says that God-fearing people:

  1. Receive divine instruction concerning the choices they should make (Ps. 25:12).
  2. Are prosperous in the most important ways (Pss. 25:13; 112:3).
  3. Experience God's goodness (Ps. 31:19).
  4. Are special objects of God's protection (Ps. 31:20).
  5. Have children to whom God shows compassion (Ps. 103:11-18).
  6. Have descendants who will be great on the earth in the most important ways (Ps. 112:2)
  7. Are motivated to be gracious and generous (Ps. 112:4, 5).
  8. Will be confident, courageous people (Ps. 112:6-8; Prov. 14:26).
  9. Will experience contentment (Ps. 112:5, 6, 9; Prov. 19:23).
  10. Will be praying people whose prayers will be heard (Ps. 145:19).
  11. Are blessed with wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 9:10).
  12. Are teachable and peaceful (Prov. 8:13; 14:26; 15:33; Acts 9:31).
  13. Are characterized by integrity and faithfulness (Job 2:3).
  14. Are considerate and kind (Ps. 112:4, 5).
  15. Are noted for constructive speech (Mal. 3:16).
  16. Are patient, hopeful, and genuine (Ps. 147:11).
  17. Persevere in doing what is right (Ps. 112:3, 5; 2 Cor. 7:1).
  18. Work hard, but are not so committed to work that they do not have time for enjoyment (Ps. 128:3).
  19. Accept responsibility for their own families and yet are not overly responsible (Ps. 128:3).
  20. Are devoted to their families and find them to be a source of great satisfaction (Ps. 128:1-4).
  21. Delight in worshipping God (Rev. 14:7).
  22. Love the Scripture and order their lives according to God's commands (Ps. 112:1; Eccl. 12:13). 
This leads to the question, "What does it mean to fear God?"  Mack contrasts feelings of dread and terror (a kind of fear) to feelings of awe, wonder, and exaltation (the right kind of fear of God).  The first, unhealthy fear is typified in the man who hid his talent in the ground (Matthew 25:25).  Of this fear, Mack writes that "it will cause you to be insecure, discontented, unforgiving, unloving, authoritarian, or spineless" (6).

Contrast this to the fear of God in Psalm 128, which will not "impoverish your family" but "enrich your life."

He writes, "Simply put, the fear of God is the inevitable response to a growing, biblical understanding of and relationship with the true and living God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ."

It is the same response Moses had after seeing the wonders of God deliver his people from Egypt (see Exodus 15:1-8).

Trusting in the Gospel gives us a healthy fear of God.  We do not cower, afraid of wrath or damnation, but we also do not take the mercies and graces of the Lord lightly.  We love Him, cherish His gifts, and by His power live them out that others may also taste and see that the Lord is worthy of our fear and praises.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Renewing and Replacing Sinful Thoughts

When we repent of sins as believers, there are a couple of points within ourselves that must must change. Stuart Scott in The Exemplary Husband (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2002), illuminates this for us.

1. We repent according to God's process of change by working to renew the mind with Scripture (Romans 12:1-2). He provides the following examples:

Click image to enlarge.

2. We repent according to God's process of change by working to put off sinful actions and to put on righteous ones (Ephesians 4:20-24). He writes,
"This involves putting enough thought into one's life to: (1) specifically plan how and when a particular sin will be avoided, and (2) determine specific ways to apply its righteous alternatives. True repentance does not take place without these things" (44).
Click image to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Got a Face Lift

No, I haven't forgotten about this blog. I've simply had school everyday, five hours a day, for the past couple of weeks. Between that and my recent teaching schedule, I'm a bit delayed on getting new material up here. :)

But, as my son used to say when he was two and made a big mess, "That's okay."

I did get a chance to finally make some adjustments on the blog, some of which you may have noticed.

First, I've updated the blog feed so you should be receiving summaries instead of blank emails and reader updates. Let me know if you want any further adjustments in that regard. Some things don't work very well in those feeds, so I think I still prefer not to feed a full post... the idea is to give enough for you to see if you're interested.

BTW: I noticed that the feed is giving summaries on the post feed on the sidebar... I'm not sure how to correct that. Help is welcome. :)

Speaking of the sidebars, I've eliminated many of the modules by combining information. My hope is that the blog will load a bit faster. I've also planted the information in their own nifty late-90's style tables. Let me know what you think, but I'm not liable to change them again anytime soon... phew!

Finally, I don't know if people are still using Internet Explorer out there, but be warned that these changes are best viewed in Firefox or Chrome. I noticed some issues in IE, but I've got to get back to my homework, so you deal with it. I can't keep helping you out like this.

Update: Oh, yeah, and Fun Fridays. That's new too. They're scheduled out for a while, so you'll always have those. :)