Saturday, January 28, 2006

Tag: I'm It!

Dee Reju tags the Deaf Jedi. Stephen walks over to a seemingly blank wall in his apartment, sighs deeply and taps into the Living Force, and gently sends out a current into the wall. The wall opens to reveal a vault full of ancient and modern Jedi relics. Perusing the shelves, he selects a Holocron, and using the Force commands it to "play." FOUR JOBS I’VE HAD: 1. Electrician's assistant through high school and college 2. Deaf ministry intern at First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA (Johnny Hunt's church) 3. CPE Chaplain intern at Norton Hospital 4. Loader at UPS FOUR MOVIES I WOULD WATCH ON REPEAT: 1. Star Wars Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith 2. The Dark Crystal 3. The Princess Bride 4. The Phantom of the Opera FOUR VACATION LOCALES I’D LIKE TO HIT: 1. Israel 2. Ireland 3. Japan 4. Italy FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY: 1. 2. 3. 4. My blog and the blogs on the sidebar FOUR FOODS I LUST AFTER: 1. authentic Italian 2. Southern home cookin' 3. Mom's chili 4. Grandmother's goulash FOUR CHANGES I’D MAKE TO THE HOUSE: What house? I live in an apartment. That said… 1. Bigger kitchen 2. Bigger bedroom 3. Bigger living room 4. Lesser cost (Fuller Hall is one gigantic rip-off) FOUR BEERS I LIKE (I'm not a drinker so I'll follow Dee's example and use stuff I actually drink regularly): 1. Sweet tea 2. Milk 3. V8 Splash (much better than plain V8) 4. Coke FOUR BOOKS I WOULD RECOMMEND: 1. The Doctrines of Grace by J.M. Boice and Philip Graham Ryken 2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (yeah I know but count the set as one book) 3. Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (same principle) 4. Knowing God by J.I. Packer FOUR PLACES I EAT REGULARLY: 1. Bearno's 2. Ray Parella's Italian (on Frankfort Avenue between Irish Rover and Java) 3. Cracker Barrel 4. O'Charley's FOUR REASONS TO READ MY BLOG 1. The Weird-O-Cron™ 2. Upcoming Calvinism series 3. Upcoming Deaf ministry series 4. Because it's that dang good. You know you want to. FOUR THINGS I WILL ASK GOD WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN: 1. Why, why, O Lord, did you have mercy on ME, a sinner? 2. All right, how does it really work, particular or unlimited? (those of you who know will get that one) 3. Can I really learn everything there is to know now? 4. Wanna build our very own Millenium Falcon? FOUR TAGS (if they want to play): 1. Shane Morgan 2. Jason Doty 3. Ryan Hall 4. Nick and Sandy McCampbell

Friday, January 27, 2006


  • Justin has a great post about why it's not legalism to abstain from alcohol. Read it.
  • Archer of the Forest has found a Mozart quiz. I got 6 of 10. Seems starting to listen to classical is beginning to pay off.
  • Tom Ascol has a great post about how pastors should respond to homosexual activism.
  • In one of the funniest posts I've ever read, Frank Turk over at Team Pyro talks about homeschooled kids (his) and video games. Check this one out if you don't read any of the others, it's hilarious!
  • One of our student colleagues (Kenan Plunk) points us to a great, great resource entitled How to Mark a Book. Read it as if your grades depended on it. Then go mark up your books.

Well, I think that's enough for now. I'm gonna go start supper.

Reflections on Being Baptist

Well, I got off work, couldn't sleep, and now I'm tired and insane. So bear with me on this post cause I'm playing with my new picture editor. See the sidebar if you want it. Quite often, I wonder just why I am a Baptist. No, seriously, stay with me here. I am like the Catholics in some respects. I was born a Baptist, raised a Baptist, and likely I'll die a Baptist. What's more, each of those three "Baptists" can be given the adjective "Southern." Even more, I am one of those who dislikes being told my beliefs are wrong. Isn't that traditonal? I'm often left wondering if I would have become a Baptist if I'd been born and raised in, say, the Methodist church. Lord knows I'd have left a Pentecostal church as soon as I was old enough to know better. I've always thought the Moonies were, well, weird, so no worries there. To this day I still have no idea where the Presbyterian and Episcopalian congregations are, so we can safely eliminate that possibility as well. What does that leave? Let's see, Catholics (one small church conveniently located behind the local hospital) and your plethora of Independent Fundamental Baptists. Maybe it's just as well, my family were Southern Baptists due to my grandmother's side. As I've grown older and done things like gone off to college and "gotten liberal," I found that I pay more and more attention to what I believe and what my church believes. I've come to realize that I haven't the foggiest clue what my church believed while I was growing up. About all I can really vouch for is that we "believed the Bible" and that we were "against sin." Oh, I know now that the preacher knew his stuff, but I'm talking about Joe Blow in the pew. Speaking of going off to college and getting liberal, I attended what I consider to be a "moderate Baptist" institution. It's one of those where you get a top-notch education, mentioned in national magazines and such as a "Top 10-50-100-whatever" school. I know now they weren't Calvinist (nor was I at the time, and I'm still not). They sure were Pelagian, Arminian, and modified Open Theist. Lord knows I still struggle with a Pelagian mindset to this day. R.C. Sproul says that's not uncommon; it's our natural mode of thinking. But I sure had some naive and uninformed notions of Christianity due to this education. Don't worry, I'm still naive; it's just my naivete is informed now. But as I've come up here to Louisville and went off the fundamentalist deep end, I've learned quite a bit about what it means to be a Baptist. And by all accounts, I love it. Southern really does celebrate its Baptistness and encourage us to learn about our heritage. You can't go to school here and not leave thoroughly Baptist in your thinking. As such, what one must do is sit back and reflect on the ride. And it's been a wild and wooly ride. It wouldn't be distinctively Baptist otherwise. From Disney to Open Theism to the Homosexual Agenda to Teetertottertalism to the Emergent Church to the Doctrines of Grace, everything about my experience at Southern has done one thing: it has made me more like Jesus, and made Satan so mad that as the sin in my life has decreased, my weaknesses have become stronger as Old Steve gets worked over by Legion. In the journey to become the true "New Kind of Christian," my thinking has become more and more biblical, my preaching has become more and more Scripture-focused, my doctrine has become more fundamentally orthodox, and a drive has been instilled in me to put God's glory first above all things. I find myself enjoying His word in ways that can only be described as childlike. I can honestly say the only time in my life I was like that was in the 3 years after I was saved. You can blame a Pelagian mind-set for the intervening 5 or 6 years until God's irresistible grace kept moving me towards sanctification as I started my first couple of years of studies at Southern. I find myself awed at His providence in my life. And as a result, I demand a high view of God from myself and others. I don't mean to say that I expect everyone to believe like me. Quite the contrary, God really crucified that attitude in me once I got to college and realized it wasn't that simple. Being exposed to postmodern thought really allowed me to hear what others thought before I went out and thumped 'em with my trusty King James. At least such a bankrupt philosophy was good for something. I'm quite comfortable now letting people believe what they want, provided they hear the truth from me. Of course, that doesn't mean I "let" my church members believe just anything. A good pastor corrects his sheep, and that's something I strive to do--teach correct doctrine and correct error in my church. I should say His church, not mine. And that's another thing that has been as traditionally Baptist as the disagreements--a belief that one's doctrine must be correct and that one's church must follow that doctrine. And as a Baptist who desires right doctrine, I want to make my personal theology as correct as possible. That's why I'm investigating the doctrines of grace. That's why I'm learning to preach expositorally (is that even a word?). That's why I'm learning what a biblical church and marriage is. And I'll proclaim it loudly from the pulpit when I learn it. So close this incoherent, disjointed ramble, why am I a Baptist? Because Baptists are like me. We want to glorify God in all we do--in our doctrine, churches, marriages, and personal lives. And we want to do it together. And, of course, no one glorifies God better than we do! Anyone else is just "lee-uh-burr-all."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blog Update

All right folks, there have been a few changes around here. Most obviously, the sidebar has been massively cleaned up. No more ugly bullets in the links section. I've also changed the "visited link" color so that it's easier to see. Now it's a lot easier on the eye. Eventually I will be experimenting with the template attempting to make it less generic than it already is. I've added a few links. Most of you should already know by now that Phillip Johnson (the PyroManiac) has effectively shut down the fire. However he's started a new one at Team Pyro. I've retained the original blog and linked to the new one. I've also linked to Purgatorio, THE funniest blog in cyberspace. Read it religiously and brink a hanky or two. Very often you'll find yourself in tears from the laughter! And now, for the tech geeks out there, I've downloaded Paint.NET, a very, very excellent and FREE photo editor. If you want a good photo editor but don't want to shell out $100 or more for PhotoShop or Paint Shop Pro or what have you, download this. It is very professional. The previous post contains one of my first attempts to play with it. If a newbie like me can do that, imagine what someone who actually knows what they're doing could do. And in keeping with the Star Wars theme of the title, I've added a footer to the bottom of the page. No, you'll have to scroll down if you wanna read it. *evil grin* Now, some of you have been waiting breathlessly (haha) for the doctrines of grace series to get started. I've talked with Shane Morgan and we've decided to put it on hold a little bit so he (and I for that matter) can get ourselves caught up on things as school gets ready to start. I don't want to post ahead of him nor do I want to get behind him. We'll talk some more tonight and hopefully get something figured out so we're both happy. Oooh, aaah, synchronized posting. I like it already. In the meantime let me take this opportunity to tell you how the blog itself will change now that school is upon us. I mentioned at the beginning of the year I would be cutting back. I will, beginning next week, be posting only on Wednesdays and Fridays. Weekends are fair game, of course. I likely may not even post on Mondays due to spending the entire day in class, so it may be that I post sporadically on Monday evenings. Originally I had intended only to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays with weekends being open, but working at UPS, sleeping all morning, and then having afternoon classes has forced me to rethink that plan a bit. I will not do a "serious" post every day; instead I will endeavor to do one serious post a week. If I get a backlog of things I wanna talk about, I will attempt to get them written out and ready to publish when I am not doing homework, so that way all I'll have to do is push "publish" in Blogger for Word. That's a great application like that, I can just go ahead and write stuff and have it waiting for me on publish day. It will also facilitate things like the series Shane and I are co-blogging. Each week I will attempt to post on two subjects: 1)the current series, and 2) Deaf ministry. In-between those will be all sorts of silly, inane things, including Star Wars tidbits. Of course, I reserve the right to post on a non-blogging day if something comes up that just has to be said. Well, that's where I am. Go forth and blogify.

How Marriage Helps Us Get Rich reports something extremely interesting: Study Finds That Marriage Builds Wealth. I find it very telling here that those who commit themselves to marriage get twice as much wealth. Isn't that the purpose of two becoming one? The article even alludes to such a biblical principle: David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, said people become more economically productive after they marry. ``They work harder, they advance further in their job, they save more money, and maybe invest more wisely,'' Popenoe said. ``That's because, one can speculate, they are now working for something larger than themselves. They are working for a family.'' I really like the prospects of this study for my long-term growth. Tricia is actually going to be a benefit, not a liability as conventional wisdom would say. Conventional wisdom says you don't need a man or a woman in your life, respectively, to gain wealth. Your significant other will actually drain your wealth, regardless of your earning power. 'Tis better to be single or divorced. To that I declare, "Hogwash." This study went on to say, in no uncertain terms, that "divorce looks like one of the fastest ways to destroy your wealth." Yet another reason never to get divorced. You'll go to the poorhouse.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The God of the Gospel

For your reading enjoyment: The Road That Led To Calvary by David T. Clydesdale. I felt it was appropriate given the previous post. The Road That Led To Calvary by David T. Clydesdale The agony was endless From the blood that He had lost, With a million demons screaming As He carried His cross. Every step a struggle To let Death have victory; Yet He willingly surrendered As He walked to Calvary. The road that led to Calvary Was paved with drops of blood, And every step He made Was an offering of love; And though He was a pris'ner He would set the captive free, He is Jesus, the Sacrifice For me. Like a Lamb led to the slaughter, He silently obeyed; Received our grief and sorrow, And the judgment of the grave. The holy righteous Substitute For all our sin and shame; Yet He knew He would redeem the very ones Who cursed His name! The road that led to Calvary Was paved with drops of blood, And every step He made Was an offering of love! And though He was a pris'ner, He would set the captive free! He is Jesus, the Sacrifice For me.

"A God of My Own Understanding"

While we wait for the introductory post on the doctrines of grace, entertain yourselves with this, if you will. I've seen a few quotes this week that kinda jumped out at me. Let me start with the smaller one, from a Nebraska senator who invited a preacher to pray. This preacher prayed for God's forgiveness for abortion and evolution, and it caused an uproar. Here's what the senator said: Senator Jim Cudaback of Riverdale, the lawmaker who invited Swartley, said Swartley had stepped over the line. Cudaback said he sends letters to numerous churches in his district seeking those interested in giving the prayer, and Swartley responded. "You don't bring that kind of subject," Cudaback said of Swartley's prayer. "You're here to make us feel good." Wow. Talk about not getting the point of prayer. I've also been thinking a lot about that Larry King Live show that Dr. Mohler was on. Something just hasn't sat right with me since. The while at work tonight I got into a pensive mood, and it came to me. It was some things Chad Allen had said. Here they are from the transcript: I have to say, if they're going to speak about absolute transcendent truth, I need to tell you, I know absolute transcendent truth. I have a deep relationship with God and my understanding. It's very powerful, and it's taken its own shape and form. And I am very much at peace in the knowledge that in my heart God created this beautiful expression of my love. Listen, Larry, we are going to be different, we're going to disagree on the details of this and we probably always will. And again here: CALLER: Chad, by whose standard do you think that it's right to live the way you have chosen to live? ALLEN: By the standard that I judge all of my actions. These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding. It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I've done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me. You know, I had to sit down with that same God today and say, "Do you want me to go on this show? Do you want me to speak the things that are in my heart? And if not, I'm happy not to go. Do you want me to make this movie?" It's the same God that I go to for every decision. And in one very revealing statement: KING: Are you pained when religious leaders or spokesman call you a sinner or criticize you? ALLEN: You know what, here's where I'm at. It really doesn't pain me to hear them say, "We believe you're a sinner." That's OK. That's your belief, I can accept that. That's OK, I understand that. And once more: ALLEN: I play a Christian, yes. And they're going to be saying, "This is the way you be Christian, there's only one way." Well you know what, there isn't. I'm a part of a wonderful community church here in Pasadena that has a very different interpretation of those same gospels that they are speaking of. There isn't just one way to do this, there are a lot of paths. I was struck by the fact that Allen's entire line of reasoning centered around "a God of his own understanding." Allen believes that absolute, transcendent truth is found in his own ability to figure out who and what God is. He believes that the God of his own understanding must necessarily be "a higher power that works for him." The God of his own understanding can be reached through "a lot of paths." In that understanding there is no room to call his homosexual behavior "sin." Indeed, there is no room to call any kind of behavior "sin" in Allen's convoluted understanding. Chad Allen has successfully rationalized away the God of the Scriptures for "a God of his own understanding." There is no hope of the only path to God, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And God Himself, through Paul, has told us that this is the way it would be. If there ever was a better example of total depravity, I'd like to see it. I'm reminded heavily of Romans 1:18-32, especially verses 21-25. I find the Contemporary English Version to put it very bluntly:
They know about God, but they don't honor him or even thank him. Their thoughts are useless, and their stupid minds are in the dark. They claim to be wise, but they are fools. They don't worship the glorious and eternal God. Instead, they worship idols that are made to look like humans who cannot live forever, and like birds, animals, and reptiles. So God let these people go their own way. They did what they wanted to do, and their filthy thoughts made them do shameful things with their bodies. They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God's creation instead of God, who will be praised forever. Amen.
Indeed, Senator Cudaback, Chad Allen, and all who think like them, have exchanged the truth about God for the lie of "their own understanding." They have re-arranged God so that He fosters their love of sin and makes them "feel good," instead of calling them to repentance. Many of us in the church today have done the very same. Our minds are stupid because of our sin. We think we know it all. So instead of being willing to submit to the God revealed in Scripture, we hem and haw and whine and complain until we have whittled that God down to something we can tolerate. We remake God into the "Buddy Jesus" of Dogma (a Jay and Silent Bob movie, for the uninitiated) fame. And the result of having our very own "Buddy Jesus" is to further enslave ourselves to sin, and more seriously and horribly than before. There is truly no fear of God before our eyes (Romans 3:10-18). Let us close with a reminder from Proverbs 3:5-7 about the God of our own understanding:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Doctrines of Grace: Prologue

With this post we will enter into the strange and controversial, yet exhilarating and edifying world of the doctrines of grace, widely known for better or for worse as Calvinism. Many of us at Southern Seminary have heard this term (Calvinism) bandied about as if it were the Holy of Holies. We've also heard it used almost as if it were a swear word. I suspect there are also a lot of us who are like me; we are unsure and desire to study the matter further. What I want to do here is take an uncritical (as in I'm not out to tear it down nor to shamelessly promote it) look at these doctrines and determine what exactly each doctrine teaches. The intent here is to be instructional for myself and for any readers I may have out there in cyberspace. This series will be structured thus:
  • Introduction
  • Total Depravity
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Irresistible Grace
  • Perseverance of the Saints
  • Implications for Life and Ministry
  • Conclusion
If you haven't already figured it out, yes I am following the TULIP acrostic. Each post in the series will follow this format:
  • The doctrine's definition, with a brief commentary on the definition
  • Biblical support for such a definition
  • Implications arising from the definition
  • Summary of the doctrine
  • My take on the doctrine (where I stand or where I am at in my study)
I will try to do no more than one doctrine per week to allow time for review for the next post on my part and discussion of the currently posted doctrine on our part. Now, I feel the need here to set some ground rules. First, this is not the place for "angry Calvinism" nor "angry Arminianism." Anyone indulging in such shameful behavior will have their comments given the unceremonial boot. You do a disservice to your respective theological systems and to Christianity in general, and you will not be tolerated. Also, I reserve the right to determine who exactly is practicing such behavior, so don't bother tattling. This isn't 4th grade. Let's all be mature Christians and speak the truth as we see it in love. Oh dear Lord, that sounded so pomo. Second, the comments section is where all discussion will take place. If I see a point that deserves further posting, it will get posted within a day of me reading the comment. I will make a strong effort to be involved in the dialogue, as this series is primarily for my own education and if I don't participate, I won't really learn anything. Feel free to email me if you so desire, but be warned that rule number 1 will be practiced in regard to email as well. Third, I would appreciate people pointing out things that I may have misunderstood or quite simply missed in the discussion. Please understand that I am in no way trying to be definitive or exhaustive; I'm simply trying to come to a place where I can say, if I was asked by someone in the corridor of the church (or in Sunday school or what have you), "this is what that means." Fourth, I will not be listing and addressing objections to the doctrine being discussed, unless I am stating my personal position on the doctrine. I would like to work on any objections in the course of dialogue in the comments. Unless, of course, enough of you convince me to include objections to the doctrine (which I may before the end of the week decide to do). Fifth, it is my exhortationary command as a brother in Christ to you all to have fun reading and participating in this series! Very often we forget the "enjoying God forever" part of glorifying Him. If all goes well, I will do a sister series on Arminianism. Hey, fair is fair! See you tomorrow with the introduction!

Interesting Theology BlogQuiz

Further deepening my addiction to blogthings like this, I was browsing Quiz Farm and found another theology quiz. I think the results are surprising:
You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox






Reformed Evangelical




Roman Catholic


Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with
This scares me a little bit because I've found thus far in my studies that I identify more with Reformed theology, despite the fact that I'm not a full Calvinist. It's also scary because we used to joke about the Methodists back home. I'd also be interested in knowing just how they got me as nearly half Emergent. Something smells rotten in there, and it isn't the cheese I just cut. UPDATE 5:00 PM: I waited a couple hours and took this again, and wonder of wonders I still ended up Wesleyan, and even stronger at 75%! But Reformed moved up to the third slot at 54%. It still says I'm nearly half Emergent at 43%. Now I really don't know what to think. I might swear off these things for a while. I must go meditate on why someone seems to think I'm Methodist when I'm a commited Baptist. *slinks off to the Jedi Meditation Room*

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Holocron Topics Proposals

I am proposing two series on Deaf ministry and the doctrines of grace. Most of you who've read this blog know I've wanted to do a TULIP series for a while. That will get started either tonight or Monday. The illustrious Shane Morgan will be co-blogging (or whatever the term is) with me and we will dialogue back and forth on each point. But what I'm looking forward to now is starting a blog series on Deaf ministry and the Deaf minister. What exactly is Deaf ministry? What exactly do I experience day in and day out? Many of you are looking at yourselves right now and realizing you are totally clueless. That's a good place to be, because you will learn something from it! Let me prepare you a smidgen by telling you that Deaf ministry is one of the most overlooked ministries in the church today. That is because Deaf people and culture is in my belief the single most ignored group in America. If you really want to talk about the "unchurched," consider this factoid: only 2% of the Deaf in America (and around the world) have ever heard the Gospel, and an even fewer number have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Sadder, an even lower number attend church on a regular basis. This is because of the lack of Deaf-led churches and Deaf-focused ministries in "regular" hearing churches. Indeed, we are lucky to have a Deaf church here in Louisville (of which I am the associate pastor) and even luckier to have interpreted ministries in other Metro churches. Actually, I should say providentially blessed, not lucky. But in many places this is not the case. What about the rural town of some size that has maybe 30 to 40 Deaf, yet no church just for them and no interpreting ministries anywhere? What about the Deaf that are two to three hours away from the nearest Deaf church or interpreted ministry? This is a topic that is worth discussing, especially for those of you who are hearing. My future mother-in-law calls us "the hidden handicap." And indeed, you have a large minority culture living in your own backyard that you have either ignored, paid lip service to, or did not even know was there. For those of you who haven't followed this blog from the beginning, you may notice that I've entitled this blog "The Silent Holocron." While the nod towards my Star-Wars fanboydom is obvious, less obvious is the meaning of the "Silent" in the title. The Deaf are the "silent" subculture. Get it now? We don't speak. We sign. You can't hear sign language, just like we can't hear the spoken word. It's a nod towards the culture of which I belong. The very culture that I will attempt to unfold here in these pages. Well, I am off to church. Enjoy your worship today, and come back soon!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sweat-Shop Crucifixes

Archer of the Forest has a hilarious as well as thought-provoking post on a certain piece of Christian merchandise. Not only do I need to start practicing his bargain based hermeneutic, but I have got to budget for PhotoShop or something similar.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Random Pre-Slumber Thoughts, Part Deux

Scary: The Homosexual Agenda by the boys at Fide-O. This is a checklist of what's already happened. And it's from homosexuals' own literature. Unfortunately, no one wants to believe me when they try to debate me (and others) on this issue. They simply ignore the evidence and continue to attack me (and others) as bigoted and intolerant. Intriguing: Dune Returns. I really need to get caught up on the Dune prequels before this one comes out. Jaw-Dropping: 32 Luke Commentaries in Scott Lamb's library is impressive. It also makes me realize I've got a long way to go in building my own library. Funny: Contrary to what Chris Rock may claim, Robitussin doesn't cure cancer, much less anything else. here is the relevant link. Thrifty: Dave Ramsey. This man is the Gospel of Personal Finance. I've yet to read anyone as understandable and sensible as him. Visit his website. Buy his books. Even better, get yourself (and your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend; as well as any children you have old enough to grasp or learn about finances) signed up for a Financial Peace University class as soon as possible. Live the Dave way and find yourself glorifying God with your money. Bible Verse of the Day: Psalm 33:10-12 -- "The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever,the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Weird-O-Cron™ - UPS Edition

For the UPSers out there, especially the illustrious Jason Doty, here's what will either become a boredom buster or cause you to contemplate trichillomania (obsessive hair-pulling). Welcome to

Weird Package Hunt!

The game is for those who directly handle packages at UPS, specifically loaders. Here's the first rule of the game: Suspend your sense of what is normal. It doesn't work otherwise. This should be easy to accomplish after a minimum of 15 minutes of slinging boxes. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is simple: Hunt for packages on your belt that are just a little off. This could be anything; it could be a town name, company name, the type of goods being shipped, etc. Having found a package, you have the option of doing several things. First, you can create a limerick about the oddity you find. For example, one day I saw a pet stroller coming down the belt. Now, that in and of itself is odd enough (and in fact I think I blogged about it sometime in the past). Here's the limerick I concocted:
Once I had a pet stroller. I gave it to my dog to spoil her. I rolled her by the church, The Spirit gave her a lurch, And now she's a yappin' Holy Roller.
Second, you can take odd phrases on the package and start repeating them to your co-workers for no reason at all. This is especially funny or weird if the package says "Git-R-Done." My super nearly cried from laughing when I did that one. Third, you can thumb your nose at the IMB if the package has foreign language on it. Just simply pretend to close your eyes while reading the package out loud and simply tell people that it's your "private prayer language." This was suggested to me by a Pentecostal friend after I told him about finding Hebrew on several packages. Fourth, you can do pretty much anything you want with the oddity. Do a stand-up routine about it. Find ways to poke fun at it. Imagine starting a company on the odd slogan you find. There's really no limit to what you can do. Yes, I know this is pretty off the wall, but it's better than staring endlessly at packages and shipping labels. Give it a try and see if it helps!

Southern Baptist Legalistic Seminary?

Steve McCoy, in the comments section to his "Open Letter to SBC Seminary Students," claims that some of us are in fear of getting "blacklisted" around here and in the SBC due to legalism at SBTS (specifically regarding the alcohol issue) and other SBC seminaries as well. Now, while I really don't want to start a tempest in a blogpost, let me just say that the incredulity of this claim is staggering to me. Maybe I'm a little insulated from "seminary politics" because I belong to an isolated community (the Deaf community), but even so I find it extremely difficult to believe this is true. Are Southern Seminary students really on the chopping block if they exercise their right to have a differing viewpoint from the administration? And over an issue that really is silly when you get down to it? For his sake, I hope Steve sheds a little light on this claim. I understand that he's apparently been asked not to name names, but that just makes the claim more suspect to me. Do you guys have any opinion on this? Is this really the atmosphere we learn, study, and fellowship in? If it truly is, things have certainly changed since I first enrolled, and it will make me happy to be graduating soon. A top-notch education tarnished (in my mind and in the mind of others) over something stupid. To Jason Doty: sorry about the rules, I completely forgot once I woke up and got busy doing church things. There's a Weird-O-Cron™ with your name on it in the works by dinnertime. Just so you know, I work in Building 1.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Random Pre-Slumber Thoughts

Random thoughts before bed: ***Jason Doty asks for directions on how to play "Weird Package Hunt" at UPS. It's a boredom buster. Or it might make you more bored. Well, Jason: your wish, in this instance, is my command. Look for a Weird-O-Cron™ on it later today. After I've slept, of course. You understand. ***Shane Morgan says I'm not a 4-point Calvinist. I'm actually a 4.5-pointer. I just can't get past the notion that Jesus didn't die for everyone, yet I affirm most everything else. I'm such a liberal heretic. ***Speaking of Calvin, my copy of Institutes came in today. I won't seriously start reading it until summer, but I can guarantee I'll be doing some browsing in there. Oh, yes, I got the 2-volume set by McNeill at a $25 discount. No abridgements for this boy. I learned my lesson with a reading of an unabridged The Three Musketeers. Once you go whole, you lose your soul. Okay, okay, I'll stop. ***That reminds me, Jason Doty and I are now infamous. That's right, closed "The Great Cussin' Blogwar" by calling Jason "arrogant" and me "nothing." And all because we told him to defend himself from Scripture, and as a result he seems to think Jason questioned his salvation, and because I told him to stop whining when he kept getting slammed down by everyone else, that I called him a "stupid whiner." I never said I wasn't blunt, but confronting a brother doesn't call for sunshine and daisies. By the way,; if you (or I or anyone else for that matter) are in a battle against Scripture, you'll always lose. Scripture rules us, not the other way around. ***And where slams are concerned, if you didn't see Dr. Mohler on Larry King Live last night (I didn't but read the transcript), you missed a good one. Incidentally, Jason also has some comments on it on his rag. I'm amazed how consistent people who can't defend their views biblically are: they get slammed, then resort to character attacks. Oh, stop whining. At least Chad Allen showed a little class. ***On those last two thoughts, I tell you, there's no fear of God before our eyes (Romans 3) anymore. ***Sometimes being an associate pastor can be hard. Especially when issues come up that you want to take on for the pastor, especially when you want to protect the pastor and ultimately your church, but can't because the pastor doesn't want to involve you, ironically to protect you as well. I may not like it, but if I really believe in my role I gotta accept it if the decision is final. Pray for us. Hmm, that might be a good blog series: The Associate Pastor. And on that note I'm going to shut up and go to bed. Good night (or morning, as the case may be).

Monday, January 16, 2006

Media Ignorance of the Bible Rises Again

In another dazzling display of biblical ignorance, CNN claims that a recent archaeological find about a mile from Jerusalem casts doubt on the Bible. You can find the story here. As best as I can figure out, this article claims that a Jewish village has been found on the main Roman road from Jerusalem to Nazareth. This town seems to have been continuously occupied after the 70 AD destruction of the Temple until the Bar Kochba revolt of 132 AD. This apparently disproves the accepted view that Jews around Jerusalem fled just before and after the 70 AD incident. Okay. No big deal. But the headline of this story says it "casts doubt on the Bible story." After a search of the Bible, I amazingly turned up no such story of a mass exodus of Jews from the Jerusalem area around 70 AD. Interesting. Just goes to show you that the media will do whatever they can to attack the Bible and Christianity in general.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Dreadful Calling

Shane Morgan has posted a thought-provoking treatise on the ministry of the Word on his blog, entitled The Ministry of the Word: A Dreadful Calling (A Puritan's View of the Pulpit). I heavily suggest, nay, I command you to read it. Something exactly like this ought to be read on the very first chapel of every semester, and every student ought to be required to sit through it for this message alone. Hurry and read it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Conclusion

What should this liturgy that I have written teach us as single people in a relationship, or as married people? For both the single and the married, this liturgy should teach us the standard that God has set for marriage. Women are to put their husbands first and respect them. Men are to serve and sanctify their wives as well as sacrifice themselves for their wives. Failure to do so constitutes sin against our spouse and against God. Now, I mentioned something in Part 3 that I promised to expound on a little bit. Let me start with a question: What do we do if one spouse does not live up to their biblical mandate? I answered by saying that the believing spouse sanctifies the unbelieving spouse. I also said that I would argue that this principle applies even in a Christian relationship. Why? Quite simply because the husband is the spiritual leader of the house, and the wife is the husband's helper. There is no escaping this principle even in non-Christian marriages, with all the flip-flopping society has done with marriage. As the spiritual leader, the husband can and must take the lead in exhorting his wife to be what God has made her to be. If the wife is not a Christian, or simply is failing to live up to her role (willingly or unknowingly), it is the husband's duty to model his role and teach her by his example what her biblical role is. The same applies for the wife. Especially more so for the wife, since she has no headship authority in her role. Her authority is more of an exhortationary nature, I think. Her role is to help her husband stay on the narrow path. I liken this (probably not very accurately) to shepherding dogs. They are not the boss--the shepherd is--but their duty is to help the shepherd tend the flock. Oftentimes the dog can herd the flock all by itself. Now, this is where the point I am arguing gets illustrated. I have read that sometimes the dog can teach the shepherd how to do his job. This is usually done to young shepherds, usually boys, to teach them how to tend the flock in the fields. Of course, I have no way to verify this at the moment (please feel free to chime in if you should have info on the subject), but it is an amazing idea and explains what I'm trying to say very well. The believing or faithful spouse can function as a guide for the unbelieving or unfaithful spouse. Neither taking on the opposite role nor forcing it on them, the believing spouse can gradually move the unbelieving spouse into the proper role. This principle mirrors the irresistible call of God in some ways, because if the unbelieving spouse is truly committed to the believing spouse, then there is no way he or she can resist becoming what God has intended in their marriage. I've also said that the principles espoused in this liturgy should be practiced by those who are dating as well. What reason do I have for this? The reason being that dating is not just a romantic relationship but a search for the missing rib and the body from which that rib was taken. If a body and a rib cannot practice proper relations with each other, they can never glorify God. Furthermore, it becomes much easier for a man and a woman to find out if they are compatible when they are seeking to relate to each other in the way that God has intended, as outlined in the liturgy. If, after faithfully assuming the male and female roles, a dating couple still cannot function compatibly, it should be obvious that they are not the ones for each other. This assumes, of course, that at every step of the way the couple is seeking God's will for their relationship. I plan, over the next few years, to develop a worldview for premarital counseling based on this concept. The study which led to this liturgy and the subsequent commentary here on this blog has left me convinced that if we as believers would practice our biblically mandated roles, our marriages would vastly improve. Divorces between believers would dramatically decline as marriages begin to fall into place and dating couples develop habits for healthy marriage as well as wisely divide whether or not they are meant for each other. We as a society would once again return to a time when marriages in excess of 30 years' longevity would once again become common. But the major difference is that our behavior in our relationships would be glorifying to God. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment at any time!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Weird-O-Cron: Friday the 13th Edition

In a special Friday the 13th edition of the Weird-O-Cron, I bring you some truly odd news. Vampire to Run for Minnesota Governor. This one is truly odd. The AOL News article has a pic of the guy, for those of you who can access it. But since Minnesota voted for "The Body," there's no reason why they wouldn't vote for "The Impaler," don't you think? I especially like what this guy says he'll do to child molesters and murderers. Too bad he just hates God the Father instead of the whole Trinity. Here's another: Scientists Create Glowing Green Pigs. Green eggs and ham, anyone? That Sam I am! That Sam I am! I do not like that Sam I am! In the "Stupid Criminals" department: Smurfy Face Paint Gives Suspect Away. *Singing theme to The Smurfs* Naa, naaa, na na na naa, naa, na na na naaaa... Blonde Moment of the Day: Man Gets Stuck in Washing Machine. And in true horror movie fashion, we close with a dead body: Woman Dead Since 2003 Left Sitting at TV. And with that, I go to find a few old school horror movies to enjoy tonight. Bela Lugosi, anyone?

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Part 5: The Pledges of Marriage

Now, join me as we enter into the final section of the liturgy, the Pledges of Marriage.

Pledges of the Marriage Covenant
  1. Pledge of the Congregation.  Friends, [BRIDE] and [GROOM] have invited you here because you are important people in their lives.  Your love and support will be important always.  Will all of you, by God's Grace, do everything in your power to preserve this marriage?  Will you give them your love, your blessing, and your support?  If so will you please show them your support by saying "We do?”

  2. Pledge of the Parents and Family.  As [BRIDE] and [GROOM] join their lives in marriage, they also bring you together in a new relationship, creating new bonds of trust and ties of affection.  As parents, it is your responsibility to train up your children in the way they should go.  This responsibility does not end at adulthood, but continues throughout their lifetimes as they face the challenges of marriage and family.  You are to be a source of encouragement, knowledge, wisdom, and support for them as they venture into God’s will for their lives.  Will you give them your love, blessing, wisdom and support?  If so will you please show them thus by saying “We do?”

Parents should come and light the Unity Candle at this point.
     The Unity Candle is a sign of the union of two people and two families brought about by marriage.  The light of each smaller candle represents the light of life in [GROOM] and [BRIDE] and birthed by their parents.  I would like to ask [GROOM] and [BRIDE]’s parents at this time to come and light the smaller candles to represent their two children who stand before us today and their families.

  • Pledge of the Bride and Groom.

  • Bride:  I, [BRIDE], take you, [GROOM], in the presence of God, our families, and our church, to be my husband.  I covenant with you until the day I die to submit to you as I submit to Jesus, and to respect you as my husband as a sign of my love for you.

  • Groom:  I, [GROOM], take you, [BRIDE], in the presence of God, our families, and our church, to be my wife.  I covenant with you until the day I die to love you as Christ loves us, to serve you sacrificially and to be a man after God’s heart in our home as a sign of my love for you.

  • RINGS:  (Each says to the other in turn) I give you this ring, that you may wear it, as a symbol of the covenant we have made this day.

  • UNITY CANDLE:  As a sign of the union of your two families, please come and light the unity candle from the two lights which your parents ignited.

  • Prayer:  Lord, you have seen what has taken place here today before you and your church.  We ask you to bless [BRIDE] and [GROOM] as they embark upon this new stage of your will for their lives.  Fill them with the Holy Spirit for love, wisdom, and guidance as they seek to honor you in their marriage.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

  • Minister:  Before God, your families, and God’s church, I now declare you husband and wife.  (To Groom) You may kiss your bride.

Presentation of New Couple
     It is my great honor and privilege to present to you Mr. and Mrs. [NAME]!

This is probably my favorite part of the entire liturgy.  Having understood the purpose of this covenant, and the terms of this covenant, the parties in question now pledge themselves to the covenant.  I’ve done a little reading on covenants this week, and learned that without even realizing it I had more or less reproduced the ancient procedure for establishing a covenant!  Cool beans.

Let’s examine each of these pledges, starting with the Pledge of the Congregation.

This is an important new element I have added.  I am not sure if this is original on my part or if anyone else has done it (and I would certainly be interested in knowing if it has been done by someone else).  Quite simply, I have asked Christian brothers and sisters (at least we hope they are) to engage in the ministry of exhortation towards the couple.  They are to pray for and encourage the new couple at all times.  Oftentimes secular society forgets this—just look at how society loves to speculate about how long it will be before a couple gets divorced!  Instead, we should practice biblical exhortation towards married couples.  Edify one another!

Second, and probably most importantly, I have included a parental pledge.  I allow for others in the family to participate in this pledge, but it is primarily focused on the parents.  I have come to believe that the ministry of parenthood never ends.  A lot of us, myself included, aren’t going to like that.  We all want to be out from under our parents!  But if we are honest with ourselves, we understand that we will always need our parents even when we’re 50 years old.  They are a fount of wisdom and experience, and the Bible always elevates age and wisdom over the “young and stupid.”

Simply put, they raised us, and will continue to train us up in the way we should go (Proverbs 22:6) even as we move into independence from them.  Have we been married before?  Certainly not!  Have we faced the challenges, delights, and heartbreaks of having our own family unit?  Certainly not!  Our parents will continue to influence us in this respect as we learn from them and seek to use their experience to create a God-honoring home for ourselves.  They are still training us up.  Their job isn’t finished!  No wonder we are commanded to honor our parents.  It’s just too bad that many of us (myself included) don’t do too good a job of that.  We’re missing out on a blessing.

I won’t remark here about the Unity Candle, it’s not that integral to the themes I have been developing in this liturgy.  If nothing else, it is one of the symbols of the covenant agreement.  I may need to flesh this out further, as it did not originally appear in my liturgy but was added to accommodate the couple I married.

Lastly, we have the central pledge, that of the bride and groom.

It is very telling that I ask the bride and groom to covenant with each other until the day they die.  Hopefully I have impressed upon them, in their state of heightened romanticism and stress, the seriousness of what they are about to do.  If they cannot agree to do as they are covenanting, they would be justified in turning around and walking out of the church unmarried.

I ask the bride to covenant to submit and respect the groom.  As well, I ask the groom to covenant to love her as Christ loves the church.  They are to do these things as a sign of their love for each other.  Notice they are not pledging their love, but their action.  Remember from the last post, love without action is dead.  The bride and groom are pledging not to love each other, but to actively show that love to each other until the day they die.

God does the same.  He does not pledge simply to be our God or to love us or what have you, but He defines just how He will show us that He is our God.  His Godhood is already assumed, just as the love of the bride and groom must be assumed beforehand.  If not, then there really isn’t any need for a covenant, for God is not our God, and the bride and groom do not love each other.

Well, I believe that really wraps up the liturgy.  I will make a brief concluding post tomorrow, and that will wrap up the series.  Feel free to comment in any of the sections (see sidebar).  Thanks for reading!

Predestination, Free Will, and C3PO

If you haven't already seen it, check out my Independent Fundamental Baptist Blogpost. It's a hoot. After work at UPS tonight, Shane Morgan and I decided to mosey to Waffle House, where we have had several good conversations about the doctrines of grace, specificaly limited atonement. Yes, we talked more about it, and I am still at an impasse, though I am at a place now where I can grasp it logically. I'm just not grasping it theologically, that's all. But anyway, after we'd talked ourselves half-asleep, we talked a little bit about predestination, and I shared with Shane a story and metaphor I have about this doctrine. I've edited it for clarity and preciseness here, but in essence it is the discussion in question. Just so you know, I subscribe to this point of the flower. Now, you may be asking, what in the world does C3PO, or even Star Wars for that matter, have to do with it? Read on. Someone had asked me in the past whether or not I believed in predestination. I answered yes, and then that person said that I don't believe in free will. To which I responded: "On the contrary, I do believe in free will. In fact, I think that predestination actually magnifies free will. Take a look at C3PO. What is he? He's a droid, a robot. BUT he has been programmed to think and act of his own volition, freely following the protocols established in his programming. We're the same way; God has programmed us to think and act on our own, according to His laws. Sin is the virus that corrupts our programming and renders us unable to operate in a manner faithful to that free volition. That's all predestination really is--God has programmed us to think and act in a certain way, of our own volition." So yes, God does control our every act--He wrote the program by which we so act! But at the same time we've been programmed (given the ability) to do those actions willingly and freely. The fact that sin can prevent us from freely acting according to our programming only underscores both God's control and our free action. Now, technically, what we're talking about here is providence. But if we understand predestination to mean God is sovereignly in control, then providence springs forth from predestination. You see, if God decides something before the foundation of the world, then He will make sure that it comes about by every means necessary. He will create the conditions, work the miracles, perform the theophanies, what have you, that will allow His creation to freely perform His will, even when their programming is corrupted by sin. Indeed, even the virus that corrupts us is sovereignly decided upon by God before the foundation of the world! Why? To show His glory. Praise be to God, for His marvelous works! This post is dedicated to Joannis Lawlor. Have fun at Gardner-Webb this weekend, and may God sovereignly lead you where He has predestined you to go to college! I just know you're going to hit me for this post when you get home. *wink*

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blog Update

This is a test of Blogger for Word. Okay, in the process of this test, let me tell you some of the changes around here. First and most obviously, the sidebar has been cleaned up massively. It’s now displaying a better use of space and the links are more ergonomic or economical or whatever the adjective is. Organized, I think. Among the obvious changes are the football rankings (BTW, Tennessee better replace Texas in that slot next year) and the headlines for my series on marriage and evangelicalism. I've also added a new feature, The Daily Greek. It's real cool and lets me brush up on my Greek reading skills. After I graduate I may actually start translating it as a daily exercise. Second, I’ve added some links, among them being Founders Blog, Pyromaniac and the links to John Piper’s Desiring God site and the 9 Marks site as well as the homepage of Founders Ministries. Third, some things sadly had to go. Tricia and I were never using our joint blog, so we decided today to delete it. Only 3 posts in the entire time it was there. Mourn it properly, please. Fourth, my profile has been updated. I’m now using my name. As this blog has become more public and more church and theologically oriented, I can’t keep signing off as “The Deaf Jedi” and expect to be taken seriously. Don’t misunderstand, I’m still the Deaf Jedi. But as the “Great” Cussin’ Argument (see this blog to see how it started and this blog to see how I got into it) has shown me that it’s time to put away the lightsaber a little bit. Oh, I’ll enter into duels from time to time, but from now on I’ll have to seek to become Saint Stephen. Well, that is that. Let’s hope this works. This has been a test of Blogger for Word. Update: Blogger for Word works pretty well, just a warning--don't turn off hyperlinks. I had to go back in to the Blogger editor to fix the hyperlinks. Again, if you don't want the hyperlink code to publish instead of the link itself, don't turn off hyperlinks in Blogger for Word. Also, if you don't want to use the Blogger editor to fix posts, I encourage you not to. Use Word. If you get back into the Blogger editor you'll have to deal with a huge mess. Thus concludes our test.

Independent Fundamental Baptist Blogpost

Thanks to the Archer of the Forest (otherwise known as Ryan) over at Costly Grace for this one. Isn't that funny? I got to get me one of those! Then I can safely travel in IFBx circles.

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Part 4: Mutuality of Marriage

All right, now it's time for the next section of the liturgy: The Mutuality of Marriage. D) Mutuality of Marriage      [BRIDE], [GROOM], I have one last charge to give you before we move on. [GROOM], your love, and [BRIDE], your respect and submission, are so closely tied together that they are indistinguishable. Why? Because a woman, in general, does not love that which she does not respect, and a man, in general, does not love that which he does not care for. A man cannot care for someone who does not respect him, and a woman cannot love someone she does not respect. Remember, love is action, and if you cannot act towards each other in love, then [BRIDE], you do not respect [GROOM], and [GROOM], you do not care for [BRIDE].      [GROOM], if you love [BRIDE], you will desire her respect. [BRIDE], if you desire [GROOM]’s love, you will respect him. You cannot have one without the other. The binding attribute is love. Make this the central focus of your marriage, and you will be able, by the grace of Almighty God, to face and defeat every challenge that comes your way, because you are mutually working out of love for each other. As I state in the second sentence of this section, I attempt here to bring together the threads of thought I have created concerning marriage. Just as individual threads by themselves cannot make fabric, marriage is not marriage if the threads of male and female roles do not come together. In the latter half of Ephesians 5:22-33, wives are commanded to respect their husbands. I thought about this verse for several days until it occurred to me that many women, while married, do not treat their husbands with respect, but with contempt. Examining these marriages (and talking to some of these women) led me to believe that these wives did not love their husbands. At the very least they could not act in a loving manner towards them. At the risk of sounding circular, in particular they could not love their husbands because they had no respect for them. In this discovery revealed a connection--love and respect are closely tied to each other. Now, you might be saying "Duh, Steve!" But that's not what was so revealing to me. What was revealing to me was that women, in general, will not love someone they do not respect. For a woman to love a person, she must have a deep respect for that person. As such, if a man wants a woman's love, he must first gain her respect. Women don't want girlie-men. They want a man they can respect. How earth-shattering. Guys, it's really this simple. You don't have to look like a soap opera stud or be even more filthy rich than Bill Gates or smarter than Einstein; you simply need to be a man she can respect. Women do not love someone they do not respect. Men, on the other hand, very simply (yes, I know you girls are tired of us being so simplistic) don't love things they don't care about. I don't care for chick flicks, therefore I don't love them. I don't care for pro football, therefore I don't love it. I never cared for Sega (back during the original Nintendo era), so I certainly did not love it! And as a man, I don't care for women who are screaming harpies, banshees, or disrespectful to other men, so I certainly won't be able to love them beyond the surface. But to get closer to the real point, watch a man who has a classic car. He takes care of that car, doesn't he? He does what is necessary to maintain the car, keep it running smoothly and looking good. This is the real point. He loves that car. If a man treats a woman in the same manner, it is obvious he loves that woman. If he is unwilling to care for a woman, he does not love that woman. That's a wonderful illustration of James 2:14-26--just as faith without works is dead, so love without works isn't really love. I daresay any guy who claims to love a woman and doesn't care for her is just paying lip service. He's just trying to manipulate her heart so she'll meet his needs. Else he just has a strong emotional and/or physical attraction and that's it. But notice I've tied a man's love very closely to a woman's respect. Remember I said I certainly don't love a woman who doesn't respect men? A man cannot or will not direct his love towards a woman who does not respect him. A woman cannot or will not respect a man who does not care for her. It is impossible to have one without the other and have a healthy relationship. The linchpin in all this is love. If a man and woman cannot act in love towards each other, then the man truly does not care for his woman, and the woman truly does not respect her man. You see? You cannot have one without the other. Love must be the driving force behind every relationship, else it does not give God glory. We, men and women both, must pray that God will give us a love for our sweethearts that allows us to respect and care for each other. We must also pray that God will develop in us a respect and caring for each other that strengthens that love. If we can exhibit these attitudes and behaviors in our relationships, then the gates of Hell will never prevail against us, and God will receive all the glory! Next time we will indulge ourselves in the last section of the liturgy; namely the Pledges of Marriage.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Part 3: Role of the Husband

Last time, I said that I would take a look at just what these "Armor of God"-clad husbands look like. Before we do that, let me warn you I'm gonna experiment with the font a smidgen so I can try and differentiate the liturgy from the commentary. I'd also like to warn any ladies who may read this that my commentary is unapologetically male. If I compare ladies with inanimate objects you'll hopefully bear with me and see what I'm getting at. C) Role of the Husband      [GROOM], your role is different from [BRIDE]’s. Where she is commanded simply to submit to you, you are commanded to love her unto death. This is a serious, serious responsibility, greater even than hers. If Jesus had not accepted His responsibility to die for us, we would never have been saved. You have a similar obligation: if you cannot love her in this way, she can never submit to you! Further, if you truly love yourself, the Scriptures say, you will love her in this way. What a remarkable way to apply the Great Commandments: Love God with everything you are and love others as you love yourself!      What is your love for [BRIDE] to be like? This Scripture gives us three things. First, your love for her is to be serving. You are to care for [BRIDE] and make sure that she has all she needs, just as Jesus takes care of our every need. Second, your love for her is to be sanctifying. You are the spiritual leader of your new home. It is your responsibility as [BRIDE]’s husband to be one of the means by which God makes [BRIDE] more like Jesus. Always speak the truth in love to her, never in anger, for your words and actions to her will either transform her or become a stumbling block to her faith! Third, your love for her is to be sacrificial. As I said before, Jesus died for the church that He loved. You are to be willing to die for [BRIDE]. John 15:13 says that “the greatest way to show love for one’s friends is to die for them.” That is even more true of your love for [BRIDE]. Be willing to die to your own wants, your own desires. Be willing to die to your own plans. Be willing to die every day for her, just as we must die to sin every day and put on the new man in Christ Jesus. I don't think I can emphasize enough the vast difference in roles here. Basically, all a woman has to do is put her man first. Easy enough, right? I know some of you girls out there are rolling your eyes at me now. But bear with me. Think about this for a moment. A man is commanded to give up his very life for his woman. If he truly loves his woman, he will love her even to the point of death. You can't get more serious than that. This responsibility is greater than simple submission. The woman isn't being asked to die for her man, she is just being asked to make him her number one relationship. The man is being asked to drop everything for his woman. Now think about that, ladies. Isn't that even more honoring to you than the world would have you believe? Feminism conveniently overlooks this part of the Scripture. If Jesus had not dropped everything (Phil. 2:5-8) and come to earth, we'd never be having this discussion to begin with. Likewise the man is commanded to "empty himself" for you. You! That is love, baby. Otherwise you could never submit to him. Women, in general, won't accept anything less than a man's total devotion. Those of you who disagree are just plain in denial. You all want a man who is devoted to you like that. And just think, he loves you the same way he loves himself and his Playstation and his dog--totally and unashamedly. And even better, that's biblical. Hmm, Playstation as a metaphor for married love. I must be tired. Anyway, what does this total and unashamed love look like? First, the man is commanded to serve his wife. Those of you familiar with the book Covenant Marriage won't be surprised to read that. Jesus said He came to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:27-28). If you look at that verse, who is really getting a servant or a slave? It sure ain't the man! Also, the man is to serve his woman because he is to care for her every need, just as Jesus provides our every need as claimed in Philippians 4:19. Second, the man is commanded to sanctify his wife. The man is the head of the household, and as such is the "head of the woman (1 Cor. 11:3)." This headship gives the man spiritual leadership in the home. As such he is to lead his woman into a deeper walk with Jesus. He is to be one of the various means by which God makes her more like Jesus. This is an extremely serious responsibility, because failure to be the spiritual leader can lead to the man becoming a stumbling block to his wife's faith! And we all remember what Jesus said about stumbling blocks (I hope; see Matthew 18 for a hint). Third, the man is commanded to sacrifice for his wife. He is to be willing to die for his wife. He is to be willing to give himself up. Now, I have gone beyond mere physical death in defining sacrificial love. I have defined it here to include "dying to self." Just as we die to self and rise to Christ, so must the man die to himself each day and rise to his wife. Jesus subordinated His desire to bypass the cross because He knew we needed a Savior, according to the will of the Father. We men should also subordinate our desires for those of our wives for the same reason. God has divinely decreed that we are to serve our wives and sanctify them, and this is to be our top priority in our marriages. Nothing else gets in front of that. Nothing. If that means we have to give up overtime to take our wives out for a romantic evening, watch a chick flick, or what have you, then that's what we've got to do. If that means giving up our computer time or even (my hands tremble as I write this part) the Tennessee-(insert SEC opponent here) game, then that's what we've gotta do. Lord knows this is the hardest part of loving our wives--sacrifice. I don't want to give up my computer time to talk with Tricia. I don't want to turn off the Tennessee-Florida/Georgia/Alabama/Kentucky/any other opponent game to go shopping or whatever with her. I really don't. I'd much rather wear a pink silk shirt with white slacks and penny loafers in San Francisco than give up the things that I enjoy doing by myself. But if I love Tricia I am willing to do it, because God has decreed that it be so. To act in any other way but that is to act in a way that Dr. Leigh Conver calls unredeemed. This is the area where God is going to humble and mature me in the next two to five years, as I learn how to be a godly husband. Ladies, pay careful attention to these points. If a guy isn't willing to love you in these ways, he's not worth your spit. If you're not married, pray that God will lead you to a man who is willing to love you this way. Should you decide to stay with this heel, don't try to force him to change. Pray for him instead, that God will make him a man after His own heart. If you're married, you should also pray that God will make him a man after His own heart, and model your biblical role to him. Complaints, nagging, and attempts to force change will only make him resent you. Remember, the believing wife sanctifies the unbelieving husband (1 Cor. 7:14), and I'm going to argue this principle applies even in a Christian marriage where one spouse isn't living in a God-honoring manner towards the other. I'll have more to say about this particular item either in the next part or in a follow-up post. Oh, and for both singles and marrieds: make sure you get plenty of counseling too. All in all, this view of the male role in marriage, especially of male headship, takes an extremely high view of women and womanhood. In this role, the woman is respected and extolled, put on a pedestal. The woman is to be cared for as the most precious thing in the man's life. Like a prize mint condition '57 Chevy, she is to be cherished and served, anything that would sully her fought to the death. Did Christ do any less with us? He held us, His bride, in such high esteem that despite our sin He died for us. Can't get any higher a view than that. Oh, praise Him for His grace, why don't you! These three areas are so important that I'm almost wanting to type them again below just to make sure you read it twice. Guys, pay careful attention to these three points. Are you loving your wives, fiancees, or girlfriends in a way that is serving, sanctifying, and sacrificial? If you're not, isn't it time you started?

Narnia Sequel In The Works

How ironic. Just as I get started on Prince Caspian, they announce that the next Narnia movie is on the way. That's right, it was announced today that the sequel to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe will be Prince Caspian. This is great news. I only hope that the animation improves from the first one. And that Peter actually gets taught how to use a sword instead of brandishing it like a club. His sword skills in the first one were, well, horrible. I almost had to cover my eyes with incredulity that he wasn't instantly skewered by Jadis. On a related note, has anyone noticed that they don't sequence the Narnia books as they were originally released anymore? Back in the 80s when I first read and reread them I read them in their original order (Lord help me, I can't remember what it was back then). As I reread them today they are in chronological order. It is very interesting how the story progresses when you read it chronologically. I may hunt down a list of the original publication and when I do my second go-round read it as they were originally released.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Part 2: Role of the Wife

Before I go to bed (it's been a long night at UPS), I'd like to get in the next part of the wedding liturgy. Without further ado, I present to you Part 2. (In this section, I personalized a short transition from the scripture to the homily for the wedding in which this was first performed.)      You may remember an old school contemporary Christian song by D.C. Talk. In that song they said that “luv is a verb.” How true that is! Love is action, and that is the heart of the roles given to both of you by Scripture. Your action, your behavior, towards each other is the center of your relationship. Your love is the heart of your marriage. B) Role of the Wife      [BRIDE], I hope that you appreciate the position I’ve just put you in. From what Scripture says, you as [GROOM]’s wife are to put him first. That is what submission truly means. Many people in the world today have twisted what Scripture means to make it sound as if you are to be [GROOM]’s slave. Never let it be so! Instead, you are commanded to put GROOM] first just as you as a Christian put Jesus first. Among all your worldly relationships, none is more important than your marriage to [GROOM]. As the head of your marriage, failure to submit to him is similar to failure to submit to Christ – it is called sin! And in this world few sins are more deeply felt than sin by one spouse against another. Hold him up as your example of Jesus in this world. Let him be your knight in shining armor in the way God has intended, not as you desire. If Jesus is truly your King, let [GROOM] be the king of your heart and none other, not even yourself. Give your heart to him and do not keep it from him, in the same way that we give ourselves wholly to Jesus. I think it was very important for me to emphasize that love is action. My grandfather once told me that "love is the way you treat someone," and that has held true over the years. I've often read in relationship and marriage books that love isn't some abstract feeling, but it is an action towards another. Dirty diapers have quite often been used as the example that illustrates the point. If you really love the baby, you'll clean up the poop, even though you certainly don't feel loving at that particular moment! This allowed me to impress upon the couple that their love was a living and active thing, not just something that burned in their hearts. True submission involves putting another first. The CEV translated it in a way that I feel really worked: "a wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord...wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first." Very often people trip over the word "submit," and sometimes I wonder if that trip is deliberate. Feminism has ruined it for women, as the bride in this wedding once told me. Any hint of a man possibly having authority or position greater than (or God forbid over) a woman is viewed as a great sin against society. Granted, Paul called himself a "slave to Christ," but is slavery to Christ in any way similar to the type of position feminists claim evangelicals are assigning them? Not a chance. Remember, "if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed." True freedom for a woman in a relationship comes when she puts her man first, just as true freedom for the Christian comes from putting Jesus in the #1 slot. No other human relationship is to take priority over her husband. When she fails to make him first, the result is or can be sin against her husband and a damaged marital relationship. Think about that for a moment. Sin against one's husband. Sin against one's wife. Could any sin be more grievous? Marital sins have the potential to destroy not only marriages, but entire families, from the nuclear unit on down through the extended family. The entire community, by extension, is affected by marital sins. Henry VIII of England is a good example of how sins against his spouses affected not only a family but an entire nation (and for years afterwards as well). I would love it for wives to see their husbands as outfitted in the shining Armor of God, not in the armor of their Prince Charming fantasies. Could anyone be more handsome than a man adorned in God's power and glory? Therefore women should and must abandon their fanciful and unrealistic images of what they expect their husbands to be, and instead exchange this lie for the truth of Scripture. Wives, give your hearts wholeheartedly to your husbands, as they are clothed in God's armor for one specific purpose: to love you as Christ loved the church! Next time, we'll look at what exactly such an armor-clad husband looks like.

Weird-O-Cron: The Return

Naked sex nullifies marriage? Cyclops kitten? The "legendary" Weird-O-Cron has returned! In our first offering, a controversial Islamic fatwa declares that gettin' nekkid when doin' the nasty with one's wife invalidates one's marriage! I wonder how those of us who are married or engaged feel about that. Something tells me these guys haven't read Song of Solomon. Naughty, naughty. In our second offering, I present to you the truly weird, the Cyclops Kitten! Is this proof that a cyclops could have existed in the distant past? Are the stories of Greek mythology true? I have to admit, I am not a fan of cats. I tolerate them at best. But my heart goes out to that poor kitty. May God receive it in His hands. Let's take a moment of silence for this kitten to end this edition of the Weird-O-Cron.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage: Part 1

Okay, let's get right to business, following my outline: The Purpose of the Ceremony. Purpose of the Ceremony

        Dear friends and relatives, we have gathered here today before Almighty God to witness and celebrate the joining together of this woman and this man. The covenant of marriage was established by God from the very beginning, starting with Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:18-24 God declared, “it is not good that a man be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” And in an act of divine power and love, God took Eve out of Adam’s side, and for this reason the Scripture says in verse 24 that “a man will leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Let us pray.         Almighty God of Wonders, our Father, bless us with your presence today. For you have promised us that wherever two or more are together in your name you are there with them, and for that we give you our praise and glory. We ask for your blessing upon Sandy and Nick as they seek to honor you in marriage. As you have in your grace brought them together, sanctify them with the Holy Spirit, that they might have a new heart and mind for their life together. Guide them and be with them always, through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen. Giving of the Bride

  • If parents are living/present: "Mr. and Mrs. [NAME], do you consent to give your daughter in marriage to [GROOM]?
  • If parents are deceased/not present/prefer this: "Who gives this woman to be married?"
  • RESPONSE: "We do." or "Her mother and I."
In this opening to the ceremony, I assert two things: marriage is a covenant, and that the reason for marriage is the seeking of wholeness by a man and a woman. The covenant of marriage gets explained later, in the homily. But I would think it is true that marriage is a search for wholeness in another. It would be very easy for me to start entertaining fanciful theories such as men need their "feminine halves" and vice versa, but then I'd just look ridiculous. But I think the truth of wholeness is that men need their "missing rib," and women need the comforting embrace of the body from which they were taken. Ever notice how much women love hugs? I'd daresay that on some deep, instinctive level women are reminded of a time when they were whole, when they belonged to one flesh. Ever notice how men love it when they find something that was missing? Same concept. A man tends to feel complete when he finds something that was missing. We guys tend to enjoy hugs by our significant others in a similar way that women do--we've found that missing piece of the puzzle and we're reminded of when we had all the pieces together. We (men and women) are seeking to become "one flesh" once again. And God has sovereignly brought together the missing rib and the body from which it was taken. It's amazing how something as simple as a hug can illuminate Scripture. It's not good for us guys to be alone. We in general do not feel fulfilled without that missing rib. I'd expand on that and say it is just as bad for women to be alone. Now, obviously this does not take into account those who are called to singleness; but singleness is not the issue here. Men and women need each other more than they realize, and God has arranged it (dare I say designed?) in such a way that we instinctively seek out each other. That's a beautiful thing, men and women were designed to chase after each other. In the context of Godly relationships, that chase is a wonderful, God-honoring thing. Even relationships that do not end in marriage can give God glory, because we are fulfilling His design by searching for that significant other. Now, the question becomes one of how we fulfill that design within the relationship. Before we go there, I'm going to argue that the roles of marriage should apply to every relationship between a man and a woman, from mere friendship to dating to actual marriage. Especially more so in a dating relationship than in a friendship. This is because I have come to believe that if we truly want to respect and love the opposite sex, then they must be treated as if they were that missing piece. I'm not saying that I treat my female friends with the same degree of love as I give Tricia. Far from it. I love them in a different manner, certainly, but in the abstract they are treated no differently. I'm to love them as Christ loved the church. Maybe that's too high a standard towards which to hold myself, but it makes sense to me. And with that, I close Part 1. Next time we will examine how God's design is fulfilled within the marriage relationship, beginning with the role of the wife. I will leave you with the scripture for this homily: Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Bookish Adventure

Today, I finished my Reformation "Armchair" book. It is a very good book. Run out and get it yourself. Run, not walk. Speed, jump medians, and run over old ladies in wheelchairs if you must. Okay, not really, but you get the point. I decided I wanted another book while I am still in my "Christmas materialist" mode. I'm still waiting for my Dave Ramsey mode to kick back in. So Tricia and I moseyed over to Borders on Hurstbourne Lane to browse their semi-excellent religion section. You'd be surprised what you can find there--that's where I got the Armchair book in the first place. I'd planned on getting the copy of Anselm's Proslogion that I saw last week (when I picked up the Armchair book) that included the Latin text. The Latin text! You can't beat a book that gives you the original language. It just looks, well, classy. But when I got there it was gone. Gone! I briefly contemplated weeping. But it's just a book, Steve. So I palled around in the religion section a little more, and came across a book that I think would be good in my continuing investigation of the doctrines of grace: What Is Reformed Theology? by R. C. Sproul. Now, understand here, this is my first ever R. C. Sproul book (I think). Having never read the man, I'm not too sure what to think. If you've got any suggestions or remarks about his books, feel free to put 'em down here. In the meantime, I will have the first part of "A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage" for your reading pleasure!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage: Introduction

As I have said, I want to do a series on marriage, following the liturgy I have written. Why did I feel the need to write a wedding liturgy? As I said in my original post on the topic back in October, I really dislike traditional liturgies. They're so generic and meaningless. Yes, there is truth in them, but that truth has been so diluted by the generic and unbiblical language in it that there is no emphasis on the value and importance of marriage and the roles of marriage. So, without any further ado, I'm going to start this series off by presenting the outline of my liturgy. A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage I. Introduction    A. Purpose of the Ceremony       1. Meaning of Genesis 2:18-24    B. Giving of the Bride II. Homily of Marriage    A. Scripture Reading – Ephesians 5:22-33    B. Role of the Wife       1. Submission to Her Husband       2. Submission to Christ Explained    C. Role of the Husband       1. Love of His Wife       2. Christ’s Love for Us          a. Serving          b. Sanctifying          c. Sacrificial    D. Mutuality of Marriage       1. Husband’s Love for His Wife       2. Wife’s Respect of Her Husband III. Pledges of the Marriage Covenant    A. Pledge of the Congregation    B. Pledge of the Parents and Family    C. Pledge and Vows of the Bride and Groom IV. Presentation of the New Couple I will present to you the text of the liturgy with commentary in each section. I hope that you will interact with each post, as this is by no means a definitive liturgy, and it is open to revision. I'd like for the readers to give solid input so that I can refine this into the most meaningful and biblical liturgy I could possibly create. See you next time on the Holocron!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cussin' and Fussin'

Jason Doty has in interesting post on his blog about "Christian Pottymouths." Go read it, it's worth the time. I promise. Some of the comments on his post are hilarious, insane, sobering, and just plain stupid. As I said over there, I'm not a cusser. I have, however, cussed before in my life, and still indulge in a good hard cuss from time to time--usually when upset or surprised. If cussin' actually does come up in casual conversation, more likely than not I am around people whom I know extremely well and whom cuss regularly themselves. But there is nothing uplifting nor God-glorifying in such language, nor should we shrug it off nonchalantly. My grandmother likes to say people who cuss are too small-minded to say anything else. That's something that's served me well. I have a rather large vocabulary, and I don't consider myself small-minded. Eliminating such language from my speech serves to reinforce that there is a better way to talk than the limited means cussing provides. I don't think I need to get into what the Bible has to say about our language. That's been pretty well hashed out and rehashed on Jason's blog. Suffice it to say that in no way, shape, or form does the Bible endorse or tolerate such language. But there was one comment (out of the many) over at Jason's that I just couldn't ignore. Some lady commenter (I refuse to name her here on the grounds that I'll probably get charged with "crimes against Southern Seminary women") made what I believe is the most asinine defense of cussin' I've ever seen. For those of you too small-minded and with a similarly small vocabulary, or whom just plain don't know what it means, asinine means utterly stupid and silly. Here it is:
i think that people like "redhot" who act and appear more "worldly" are sometimes better able to relate and reach out to "worldly" people who are in need of christ. i say as long as his heart is right with God, and he isn't doing more harm than good for God's kingdom, don't pick on little issues like this...
This, without a doubt, is one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Especially in light of the subsequent discussion over at Jason's outlining the biblical principles of clean language. That's like me saying (just for example) you shouldn't be bothered that I go to strip clubs because I am better able to reach out to men that frequent strip clubs. Or that you shouldn't be bothered if Tricia and I become involved in swinging because then we're better able to reach swingers. Or that you shouldn't be bothered if I deny God's existence so that I can better reach atheists. As long as my heart is right with God (and who are you to say that it isn't?), don't pick on little issues like this. Does anyone else see the absurdity of the above paragraph? Something else this lady caused me to think about was that she has just given ammunition to the small minority of men at and outside of Southern who don't think women have any business in ministry. I already think these guys are lame to begin with, but such asinine, unthought-through remarks only add fuel to their fire. I don't defend the value of female ministers only to have it besmirched by such a lackadaisical attitude such as hers. Good job. You've already got two strikes on you, being a woman and a woman in ministry; you didn't need to go off and strike out on such a ridiculously fat, juicy fastball like Jason's. What this entire episode heavily underlines to me is something Shane and I have been discussing more and more: there is no fear of God before our eyes (Romans 3:9-18). You might notice that Paul includes cussin' in the list of charges against people with no fear of God. How ironic. The commenters supporting cussin' and those advocating tolerance for it have such a low respect for God that they ignore behavior in believers that does not glorify God. I'll say it again, just in case you didn't catch it the first time--these people have little respect for God. That's going to offend quite a few of you, but quite frankly, I'm past the point of caring. I didn't make this up, the Holy Spirit through Paul did, and if you got a problem, take it up with Big Daddy, not me. What should we do about this? We certainly can hold each other accountable. Barring that, since some of these people (such as certain commenters on Jason's post) will no doubt tell us to siddown and shuddup, we should be driven to pray even more fervently for our brothers and sisters in Christ for this thorn in their flesh. We certainly should practice biblical discipline after Matthew 18:15-17, firstly after making sure we are blameless on the matter as Matthew 5 commands. (Just so you know, my own honest disclosure of cussin' and fussin' and my working to remove it from my life in the beginning of this post is my feeble attempt to become blameless before you on this matter. Take it however you want.) I leave you with some words from John MacArthur on this last paragraph: "Confrontation is necessary to help restore a sinning brother. Confrontation is not intended for invading people's privacy; it's for the purpose of helping others in their battle with sin. We need to be concerned about accountability." (from The Anatomy of a Church Part 4)