Sunday, July 30, 2006

The One Book

Courtesy of Ryan Hall, our esteemed Anglican brother, I bring you a new survey. 1. One book that changed your life: Desiring God by John Piper. Until then I didn't really know what the point of being Christian was. 2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. The Gospel of personal finance. 3. One book you’d want on a desert island: The Bible. This was a toughie, but the Word easily trumps anything in my library. 4. One book that made you laugh: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Irreverent and flat-out hilarious. 5. One book that made you cry: The Valley of Vision. 6. One book that you wish had been written: I agree with Ryan, I wish Frank Herbert had lived to write the final novel of the Dune series. 7. One book that you wish had never been written: Anything by Christian "fluff" authors. It might be okay for spiritual infants, but bad theology is bad theology, and I'd rather not have people getting led astray so young. 8. One book you’re currently reading: The Secret Key to Heaven by Thomas Brooks 9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? by James Montgomery Boice 10. One book you haven't finished but will finish in the next month: The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel

Friday, July 28, 2006

Photo Friday

Please welcome the newest addition to the Newell family: Newell's Reese's Cup, Reese for short. She's a 3-month old, black and tan, purebred Chihuahua. We got her at the Kentucky State Fair. There's still a bunch of dogs available there if you want one, but hurry, the children are giving their parents "the look." Isn't she the cutest thing you've ever seen? More pics forthcoming as we go picture crazy with the digital camera. Now for something truly cute, go see Dee Reju's new kid.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Fed-Ex Plane Goes Down

Most of you may not know or may not remember, but I was promoted to a part-time management position at UPS last May. This month I have been in the company's month-long training program for new part-time supervisors. This is the final week of training. I've been learning a lot of very interesting and helpful stuff, as well as receiving excellent training. Today, we were given a tour of the ramp at UPS' airport facilities. This is where the planes go from the runway to be unloaded and loaded. As we rode in the van across the ramp, we drove by one of the runways and saw a sight to behold. A Federal Express 727 plane was down in the grass off the runway. In fact, tomorrow's Courier-Journal story about the incident (click here for the story) says the plane actually skidded off the runway onto the grass during an aborted takeoff. Thankfully no one was hurt, and the 727 was able to roll itself into a hangar. They are saying that an engine apparently shut off, causing the aborted launch. But as we drove by, I couldn't help but notice what the photo in the article does not show. Along the building directly behind the plane in the picture is a whole line of UPS planes! The irony was thick. I've got to put in a call to my sister's husband, who works for Fed-Ex, and let him know just who's the best.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Richard Land On The Alcohol Issue

Richard Land does a much better job of writing on the alcohol issue than Jerry Vines. Read the article here. Since I'm tired of the issue, I'll let others deconstruct it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Creating the Deaf Jedi Archives, Part Deux

Well, I have just completed a third stack. So far the total is 56 books, and I've still got, let's see, 14 stacks to go. Cataloguing is turning out to be a fun but tedious process. Thank the good Lord you can go online and find out a lot of this information such as list price and current value. Speaking of current value, the present value of the 56 books I have catalogued comes out to $1,217.00 That is a shocking number to me, because those books represent about 3 or 4 semesters' worth of books purchased. Granted, a lot of the books I have catalogued were not class purchases, but they well could have been. It is a bit scary to me to think I actually own something collectively worth that much. I wonder what the final tally will be once the other 14 stacks are catalogued. I'm reminded heavily of a saying made famous by Erasmus (roughly recalled here): "When I have money, I buy books. If I have anything left over, I buy food and clothes!" As these first three stacks are showing me, that's certainly true of me! So far, no authors have jumped out in the list. No author has more than two books in the catalog. Of course, I expect that to change as I start digging into the stacks, but we shall see. I have not really had a favorite author, nor do I expect to get one anytime soon. "Favorite authors" for me tend to write in the realm of fiction (R. A. Salvatore, Terry Brooks, for example). I do know, however, that I posess all but one of Mr. Bruce Ware's books (the exception being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), so if you wanted to say he's a favorite, you could easily do so. That man mind. Take his classes if you ever get the chance. Well, as I recover from a sinus infection, I'm going to try and make it 5 stacks completed today. Enjoy your day, and any cataloguing suggestions you can give would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Photo Friday

I promised to put up some pics from our honeymoon in Gatlinburg, and what better time than on Friday? Hope you like my initial foray into the photo crowd! Taken from the top of the mountain in northeastern Tennessee, at Bean Station. Stephen Knight, a lone crusader in a dangerous world, the world of a man who is Deaf elect. Drink up, me hearties, yo-ho...oh wait, we can't do that anymore, right? Tricia at the Pirates exhibit at the Aquarium of the Smokies. A romantic dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant I discovered near our hotel in Gatlinburg. Preaching in Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church. Cades Cove is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Go there if you get the chance. A scenic overlook in Cades Cove. My favorite photo of them all. This creek ran an old mill at a settlement in Cades Cove. And I will close out with a little Gatlinburg humor:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Creating the Deaf Jedi Archives

You may have noticed that once again I have missed self-imposed deadlines for posting. Here's why. My wife has become more and more insistent about getting our second bedroom set up (wives do tend to get insistent from time to time, you know), so I have begun the laborious and time-consuming process of finally cataloguing my library, which currently sits on the floor, woefully unorganized, pending the purchase of bookshelves. I took a gander at this Library Thing doohickey some of you guys like to use and found it a bit confusing at first glance. So Library Thing is out until, perhaps, the future. So I palled around with Word and didn't see anything I liked. Then I opened Works and in their database program I found a very nice book inventory template. So I will be filling out this database (unless any of you can turn me towards something just as simple but better) for the next few days. I'll give you a final count (grand total, categoric total, author total, etc.) when it's all said and done. Which reminds me that I still have several boxes of books leftover from college sitting in my dad's garage with the rest of my things. I need to get those up here as well, and then I'll have all of my books together. I have decided not to catalog any works of fiction (with the exception of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and just maybe my copies of The Lord of the Rings). The reasoning behind that decision is simply this: in the event of a fire, which books am I going to replace? Tricia and I knew pretty quickly we weren't going to repurchase any fiction in the apartment, whereas I would set out almost immediately to rebuild my theology and counseling acquisitions. That's significant, because I'm leaving out my Star Wars collection. But I suppose the $8 Puritan Paperback copy of Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor is much more valuable than my mint condition, autographed copies of the novelization to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, each purchased for about $25. That's right, mint condition, autographed by Terry Brooks himself. In about 10 years they'll be worth 20 times what I paid for 'em on the collector's market. But in 10 years' time, I'll be teaching our children the finer points of Divine Providence from having read John Flavel than how to lift rocks using your mind from listening to Yoda, and that is a trade of eternal value. What has this week taught me? A blogging lesson I keep forgetting to learn: don't set deadlines. Just do it at your own pace and have fun. A lesson we all can appreciate, especially as summer winds down and we start to get into the school habit again, for those of us still at Southern.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Superman Returns, Part 2

After some reflection, I decided to give Mr. Mansfield's comments on the previous post some face time instead of answering them in the comments.


He said:
But what did think of the suggested negatives in the film: (1) removal of "American Way" as part of what Superman stands for, (2) his selfish choice to leave Earth for five years, (3) his illigitimate child with Lois Lane, (4) Lois is shacking up with her boyfriend. I'm not so conerned about #1 since he does save the USA at the end regardless of what Perry White says, but 2-4 seem to me to be real sticklers. I don't like these elements of the storyline and feel they unnecessarily demean the Superman mythos. I didn't like Superman's decision in Superman II to selfishly give up his role as earth's hero so that he could be with the woman he loved. Nor did I like the "one night stand" between the two of them. And now, all the negatives of S2 are continued in Superman Returns. People can say that these developments make Superman "more human," but Superman is supposed to lead by example, and to me this Superman does not do that. What are your thoughts?
All right, fair enough. Here's my response. 1. I found that to be slightly off-putting. The liberality of the film industry leaked a bit there, didn't it? But given Perry White's character it actually fits perfectly. As a newsman, he's after what sells, and "truth, justice, and...all that" is what sells papers in Metropolis. I also don't buy the "international hero" junk. More likely they're after international dollars, and "the American way" isn't a very big commodity overseas these days. 2. I don't understand why you call this selfish. Supes may be many things, but he is, fundamentally, someone separated from his home and family. He is similar to many adopted and foster children in this way--he desires to know his roots. He had the opportunity to find out what happened to his home and family, and he took it. That's not selfish--that's the action of a person who cares deeply about his family, from which he has been separated. I submit to you that it is Lois Lane and the rest who are the selfish ones. Especially Lois. What claim do they have on Superman? None. He does not kowtow to Lois' desires, nor should he. Lois had it right the first time--the world does not need a Superman. Only by God's grace do they have a Superman at all. They have no right to make demands of that grace. 3. & 4. I think it is good that they show the consequences of Superman II. Lois has been and probably always will be this paragon of feminism, and in this movie she is suffering the effects of such a lifestyle. It is shown to be bankrupt and unfulfilling. Lois longs for a proper relationship with a man, and that is glaringly obvious all throughout. Even with her boyfriend, she wants all the trappings of a relationship and none of the responsibility. The bankrupt feminist mistake. Supes, on the other hand, illustrates something I've been wishing would be shown. He is not the paragon of virtue everyone makes him out to be. Underneath the suit, super powers, and alien biology, he is still a fallen creature in need of redemption. Sin is inevitable for Superman, inevitable. Even leaders sin, and now Supes can show us what redemption looks like. But somehow I don't think the filmmakers will do that. I think they'll glory in his fallenness. I have to conclude by saying that I did not intend to approach Superman Returns with this mindset, nor will I in the future. Once I read some of the reviews (the non-spoiler ones) out there, I was pretty down for a bit. Then I decided that I didn't care what anyone else thought, it is just a movie and I'm going to make up my own mind. Politics and inane moralizing would be benched for two hours and just allow myself to see the movie as a movie. But I did notice clearly all of your above items but the second. I go to or rent a movie for enjoyment and relaxation, not to ponder the theological value of film. I watch a lot of movies and enjoy many while recognizing it is not these that I receive edification from, but from the Lord. Until the "Christian" movie industry gets its act together and starts producing movies of quality and Biblical fidelity, we need to stop expecting an unbelieving world to produce things enjoyable and edifying to believers. Such things only come from the hand of our Lord. That being said, I'm ready for Spider Man 3 to hurry up and get here.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Superman Truly Returns

Tricia, my beloved wife (no longer fiancee, yay us), and I went tonight to see Superman Returns. I left in stunned awe. The Man of Steel made a triumphant return to the big screen. There are very few words that can adequately describe this movie-going experience. "Run out TODAY and see it!" will have to be sufficient. Brandon Routh looks so eerily like Christopher Reeve, a few times I could have sworn I was watching one of the originals. It is, however, obvious the directors did everything they could to make the role easy for him to play. He doesn't have a lot of lines in this movie. When he does speak, he is dead on as Clark Kent or as Superman. That's a superb job of shepherding someone acting in what is, I believe, his first movie. Routh can only improve with time. He is a greatly sympathetic character in both roles, whereas Reeve only accomplished that in Superman II. Kevin Spacey is the ultimate Lex Luthor, far surpassing anything Gene Hackman ever did or could have done. He lends Lex the very aura of evil. His presence made the movie really hit home. The character he gave us really brought out the Lex Luthor we know from the comics, and for the younger (and far less aware) generation, made it believable that the Lex from the TV show Smallville would grow up to become the Lex of the movie. It was a perfect contrast to Routh's Superman. This movie did a fantastic job of connecting the Superman of old with the Superman of new. References to the first two movies are everywhere, for those who have seen the originals. At the same time, Superman Returns remains its own story, taking the Superman saga to new, unexplored heights. This movie will drop your jaw, make you yell and cheer, and tear up in all the appropriate places. It is the closest thing to a masterpiece, and for a movie that attempts to continue a 20-plus year old story told by beloved actors, that is a remarkable accomplishment. Someone wrote a while ago that they hated this movie. It was claimed by this person that Supes did not even smile at the audience at the very end. I am here to put the lie to this claim. Yes, he did. Yes...he...did. This movie was everything the old were, and more. I have not been able to shut up yet. Run out and see Superman Returns TODAY.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blog Update

You may notice the new template. My "old" one mysteriously failed today, similar to Alex Forrest's difficulty from a couple of months ago. I think I will keep this template until I decide whether or not I want to stay with Blogger or move. I'll get the sidebar put back ASAP. I also need a bit of help. I have been ready to post the first verse of my attempt at translating John 3:11-21 from the Greek; but I cannot find a Greek font that seems to be compatible with Blogger. At least not without having to pay for it. Any suggestions? Specifically, which font and how to code it in Blogger is what I am looking for. Anyway, this disgruntles me. No Greek, now no template. I will do my best to have the Greek up tomorrow; meanwhile I will work in part 2 of Irresistible Grace tonight.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Doctrines of Grace: Irresistible Grace, Part 1

Now, at long last, we return to the Doctrines of Grace! In this installment, we will look at the fourth point of the TULIP, irresistible grace.


Okay, let's get started, as usual, with a definition. defines irresistible as impossible to resist; having an overpowering appeal. This is an excellent definition; in fact, it conveys exactly what is meant by this doctrine. The grace of God is so appealing to the elect that it overpowers their natural inclination towards sin and turns them towards God. Their inclination towards God's grace naturally causes them to accept God. However, opponents of the doctrine insist that this appeal to the sinner is compulsory if indeed is is that strong. As such, many adherents to Calvinism feel the term "irresistible" does not quite convey what is meant. The term effectual or efficacious is preferred instead. Both are defined as producing, sufficient to produce, or capable of producing an intended result or desired effect. I'm not too sure why some prefer this designation; in my mind there is no real difference. The root idea of both adjectives is of something so attractive that those to whom it is offered desire only to accept what is offered. You might say that it is the flame to which a moth is attracted. What is offered? The thing offered is grace. This is defined as mercy; a favor rendered by one who need not do so; the prerogative of mercy exercised (as by a chief executive) or granted in the form of equitable relief; a special favor. We know these are the definitions we see because the verb is defined as to honor or favor. So then we see that grace is God's special favor, unnecessarily given by His own prerogative. We see further that grace is merciful, equitable relief. Taken together, grace is God's special favor of merciful, equitable relief, unnecessarily given to individuals by His own prerogative. Sound familiar? Yep, we're talking, to some degree, about election (see sidebar for Unconditional Election). And what is that relief from? The punishment of sin--eternal death. What we have, then, is this definition of irresistible grace: the special favor of God, unnecessarily given by His own prerogative, that gives merciful, equitable relief so appealing to those towards whom it is exercised that they in turn want that favor. I will close this installment with a confession of confusion. I am somewhat confused as to what, exactly, is objectionable about this definition. When one properly understands even the simplest part of the doctrine--the definition--it is difficult to imagine opposition. But as we shall see in the following posts in this series, there are objections; all based on, in my opinion, a faulty understanding of irresistible. I will pause here and allow us to digest. Join us later this week for part 2, as we undertake a historical look and biblical support!

Friday, July 07, 2006

An Oreo Cookie Moment

Yesterday, while convalescing from my very wet 4th of July, I saw a commercial that gave me pause. Just like the Oscar Meyer weiner, they are redoing the Oreo cookie jingle. Unlike the weiner, the Oreo cookie was a staple of my childhood. Many a day went by when I was very small that I found myself singing the jingle to myself, with a very whimsical look on my face. "Ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie, they forever go together, what a classic combination; a dark delicious cookie meets an icy cold sensation; the one and only creamy crunchy chocolate, O-R-E-O!" Incidentally, I do confess that I thought the verse was a glass of milk. Oh well. They shouldn't mess with a classic, but if you listen to the finalists, A Capella Gold sounds almost exactly like the original. Now go get yourself a glass of milk and some OREO cookies!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Return of the Deaf Jedi

At long last, I have returned. The two or three of you who were holding your breath and pulling out your hair can relax now. I had to get internet set up in our apartment, and I have now gotten DSL cobbled together from BellSouth's excellent service. Let's go over the blog agenda for the next month.
  1. The wedding was great, the honeymoon fun and relaxing, and pics will be posted in the near future.

  2. I will finally get started on irresistible grace this weekend. The reason will be explained in the next item.

  3. I will blog the setting up of my office at church through the next couple of weeks. The bulk of this stuff is notebooks, folders, and papers that I have accumulated through my time at Southern. They need to be sorted and filed. Right now, everything is in boxes or piles in my home office in the apartment, so good luck finding anything! You'll get to see exactly what my home office, where everything is boxed and stuff, looks like now, what my church office looks like, and the finished product.

  4. Josh Hearne, for those of you who remember, asked me to do a translation of John 3:11-21 for the 200th post contest. That will get underway beginning Monday. I will try do to at least one verse per day until it is done. I'm salivating over this one.
I think that is it for the time being. I won't be trying to do too much since we are getting the apartment in order and the like. Thanks again to all who have prayed for me and fed me through their blogs, friendships, and teaching!