Thursday, August 31, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the return of the Weird-O-Cron™! This installment: FERRET LEGGING!!! Ferret legging is the oldest sport involving an animal where competitors are not riding. Ferret legging is described as: A sport practiced in Yorkshire, England. It was first brought to light by Donald Katz, in an article entitled “King of the Ferret Leggers,” in the February 1983 issue of Outside magazine. The sport involves putting two angry ferrets inside one's trousers, having first tied one's trouser cuffs firmly to one's ankles, lest the ferrets escape. The competitor then cinches his belt tightly, and the clock is started. Competitors cannot be drunk or drugged, nor can the ferrets be drugged. In addition, competitors cannot wear underpants beneath their trousers, and the ferrets' teeth cannot be filed or otherwise blunted. The record-holder at the time of Katz' article was Reg Mellor, a 72-year-old retired miner from Yorkshire. Mellor's winning time was five hours and twenty-six minutes of "keepin' 'em down." It was Mellor who instituted the practice of wearing white trousers in ferret-legging matches "to better show the blood." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is truly weird.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Declared the Son of God - Romans 1:2-4

All righty, Romans 1:1 was a success.  I’ve yet to hear how this helped our interpreters, but hopefully it did a great deal of good for them.  In keeping with posting the upcoming Sunday’s sermon, let us move now to Romans 1:2-4 and the topic of the day, “Declared to be the Son of God.” Once again you'll need SIL Greek font (see sidebar for permanent link) to read the Greek parts.  Feel free to critique in the commnts!

ê proepjgge°lato di tòn profjtòn aÇto n grafa²v ƒg°aiv per± to u³o aÇto to genom™nou k sp™rmatov Dau±d kat s€rka to érisq™ntov u³o qeo n dun€mei kat pneÂma ƒgiwsÀnjv x ‡nast€sewv nekròn HIjso Cristo to kur°ou Ómòn

“Which he promised before through his prophets in holy writings concerning his son, who became flesh from David’s seed, who had been declared Son of God in power according to a spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord”

Having given us an explicit statement of who he was and what he was doing here (unlike Stockdale, who couldn’t), Paul now turns to the what of his mission, the Gospel.  Today I would like for us to learn what Paul has to say about the Gospel in verses 2-4.

A Promise From the Lord

Paul first tells us that the Gospel is something that was promised a long time ago (though fortunately not in a galaxy far, far away).  This is signified by the word proepjgge°lato. It contains a preposition at the beginning of the word, pro, which gives the meaning “before.”  We see this in words in modern usage such as “prologue.”  The remaining word is translated “to promise” or “he promised,” in this specific configuration.  So we arrive at “he promised before (or beforehand).”

Paul then tells us who the promise was made to.  The promise of the Gospel was given to the prophets of Israel, who in turn wrote it down in what would become the Old Testament.  Given that the entire Old Testament contains prophetic references to the Gospel, we can say that every biblical writer was in this respect a prophet.  The Bible is not just a history book or a book of legend (as some in the world would have us believe); it is a promise which has been handed down to successive generations over three to four thousand years.  The promise is still given today to all who do not believe, and is realized and lived out by all who have placed their hope and trust in it.

Paul now is ready to tell us what the promise is about in which we are to hope and trust.  The promise is about God’s Son.  This son was to become flesh.  That means it was to become a human being.  Not only that, His Son was to be born from one of David’s descendants.  To a first-century Jew, the name David would evoke images of none other than the great King David of history.  That meant that God’s Son would be descended from the royal line of Israel, from an anointed ruler.  Perhaps this is a reason why messiah translates “anointed one,” because just as their greatest king was an anointed one, so the final ruler of history was to be an anointed one as well.

Declared the Son of God

Having told us who the promise is about, Paul now looks to tell us how we would know the promise would be fulfilled.  Paul uses an interesting word to describe this prophecy’s fulfillment.  He says the Son of God would be to érisq™ntov, declared, to be what he is.  He would not simply show up and assume his mantle.  He would make himself known to Israel and the world.  The Greek word used here is an Aorist middle participle, and is translated roughly as “the one who had been declared.”  So the Promised One would also be a Declared One.  Such a pronouncement brings to mind the story of Jesus’ birth, with an angelic announcement that he had been born.  What a declaration!

But Paul says the promise was specific about how the Son of God would be declared.  He would be declared in three ways:

1.  In Power.  The Son of God was to be declared in power.  This son would wield incredible power.  The Jews considered this power to be largely political, one that would bring freedom and autonomy to their oft-oppressed nation.  But the Old Testament, according to Paul, painted a different picture.  The Son of God’s power would be a spiritual power, one that would bring to an end all rebellion against God and would bring God’s people into a right relationship with Him.  Certainly, as the Son of God, he had vast material power that no ruler could possibly stand against.  But as Paul would later explain in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

2.  According to the spirit of holiness.  An interesting turn of phrase once again.  Instead of simply saying “Holy Spirit,” Paul brings us a brand new term.  It is never seen anywhere else in Scripture.  The Son of God would be known for his personal holiness.  But I would like to make a distinction here.  As flesh, this person could never be holy on his own.  As God, this person could be infinitely holy.  As God, this person certainly had access to the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, and as such the Son of God’s spirit would be one of marked holiness and virtue, not of himself, but by way of the Holy Spirit who led him.  He would be the standard by which God declared, “Be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26).”  Since we sinful, fallen humans could never reach this standard, the Son of God, having access to the Holy Spirit, demonstrates that our personal holiness comes not from ourselves but from God.

If we want to translate this as “Holy Spirit,” we need look no further than Jesus’ baptism, where the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove.  “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17)."

3.  By resurrection from the dead.  The final declaration of the Son of God would be the most magnificent of all.  He would be raised from death.  Immediately this tells us that the Promised One would suffer death, but even death would not be enough to defeat the promise of God.  Everything that God had promised would come to pass, even though it meant the Promised One had to die.  The fact that God had declared it so means that it was 100% necessary for the Son of God to die.  

And God declared this long before we were born, as we saw in Romans 1:1 and Galatians.  The Son of God did not die because of anything you and I have done.  He died, quite simply, because God said so.  It was God’s holy plan for His Son to die and be raised, that His name might be declared and glorified.  It is foolish for us to presume that God reacts to what we have done.  Rather, it is God who declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-11); history has no choice but to obey His decrees.

Jesus Christ our Lord

Finally, Paul reveals who the Son of God is.  We have been breathlessly waiting on the edge of our seats for the identity of such a spectacular individual.  Surely he is the greatest of all people!

The Promised One, the Declared One, says Paul, is Jesus who is called the Christ.  Even the Roman authorities knew who he was, having written about it by the time of the writing of Romans or soon after.  What an offensive notion!  Not only to Romans, but to Jews as well!  A man who was crucified as an instigator of rebellion, condemned by his own religious authorities as a heretic, is the Son of God?  Outlandish!  Hogwash!  Pass the Guinness!  If Jesus is the Messiah, I’m a knock-down drag-out rip-roarin’ drunkard!

“But wait!”  Paul says.  “Listen carefully to the Gospel.  He fulfilled each of these declarations perfectly.  He performed miracles, witnesses to which are still alive.  He was a person of unimpeachable holiness.  None could rightly accuse him of impropriety or sin!  Not only that, the Holy Spirit himself came down upon him when he was baptized, and a voice from heaven outright declared Jesus to be the Son of God!  There are still witnesses alive to that as well!  And if you were to go to his tomb today, you would find it empty.  That in and of itself, while unremarkable, is made to fulfill the promise because he is truly risen.  He appeared to me.  He appeared to James and Peter.  And he appeared to 500 others, many of whom are still alive!  I tell you, Jesus is the Promised One, the Declared One, the Son of God in whom we have salvation!”

I can imagine, in the eye of my mind, people silencing their snickering to listen a little more closely.  Maybe he isn’t really crazy.  Maybe he’s telling the truth.  “We will think on these things,” they might say.  A few might stay after the sermon to ask more questions.  Still more might be convinced, and by the power of the Spirit place their trust in Jesus.

Is that true of you?  If you belong to God, there is no doubt in my mind that you are convinced.  You believe what I have just told you.  You believe what Paul has written.  You believe the promise which God gave to his prophets all those thousands of years ago and passed down to me.  I haven’t done anything to convince you of the truth.  You know it is the truth because of that same spirit of holiness that resided in Jesus.  That same spirit of holiness, if you belong to God, is calling you to trust Him and His Son today.  All you must do is repent of your sins.  Confess them, turn away from them, and place your trust in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  It really is that simple!

If you belong to God, you will do this.  Just ask Him for the faith to believe and trust in Jesus.  Will you do that today?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's Football Time In, Kentucky!

All righty, folks. The Deaf Jedi's top 15 rankings return! These are my preseason top 15 for the 2006-2007 season. Read 'em and weep. Or laugh. Or both.
  1. Texas. They gotta lose to get toppled.
  2. Ohio State. If not for Texas, they'd be #1.
  3. Auburn
  4. LSU. The Miami game says it all.
  5. USC. Downward spiral to mid-rankings this year.
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Notre Dame. Tough games early could spell disaster.
  8. West Virginia. Loss to Louisville will ruin their season.
  9. Louisville. This is the BCS year. Maybe even a Heisman year.
  10. Florida State
  11. Miami
  12. Georgia. Only because I hate ranking Florida in the top 10.
  13. Florida. Spurrier may be gone, but it's still a good clean hate.
  14. Michigan
  15. Tennessee. Last year was an abberation. Cutcliffe puts things right on Rocky Top. Look for a top 10 finish, top 5 not out of the realm of possibility.
And there you have it folks. Once again, the Top 15 will be updated weekly. Agree or disagree with my pics at your peril. Preferably in my presence over a decanter of Welch's Grape Juice.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Book Review: The Man of Sin

Since it is 3 AM on what is supposed to be my night off from UPS, and I very sadly cannot sleep even if I try, I'll go ahead and post this book review and see if it does the trick. I recently finished The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist by Kim Riddlebarger. You may have noticed some preliminary remarks on this book that I made in this post, where I stated that I found this book disorienting. In fact, I think I even used the term "dazed and confused." 236 pages later, that assessment still stands. The Man of Sin seems geared towards someone who has at the very least a basic familiarity with amillennial theology. It assumes a strong amount of grounding by the reader in interpretive methods and church history. Fortunately, this assumption is not so great that someone like me, having only read premillennialist works, can sit down and forge through it. And forge through I did. If nothing else, Riddlebarger's book will make one think. I believe that is his thrust all throughout the book; that is, he desires simply to cause the reader to rethink what one believes about the end-times and the Antichrist in particular. In that respect alone, Riddlebarger succeeds. I definitely have more to think about. A failure of this book is in the way it treats amillennialism over and against other millennial views. Riddlebarger seems to bounce off walls (and not in an energetic, yappy dog or hyper child way) in his treatment of differences between amil and other views. It's almost as if he is sitting in a room with various pieces of theology that are contra-amillennialism taped on the walls and throwing darts randomly around the room, at which point he attempts to show how the amil view is superior. Engaging in such eschatological rabbit-chasing, while informative and interesting, only confused me when trying to follow the argument Riddlebarger was attempting to make in most of the chapters of this work. But I must admit the cause of such confusion may well be my unfamiliarity with the point of view in which this book is presented. Riddlebarger's strongest contribution in this book is a historical overview of the Antichrist in the church. I enjoyed this chapter immensely and learned much about how the church has viewed the Antichrist through the ages, from Nero to the Papacy, on to today. After this is his final chapter, a summary of all the information in the book, stating Riddlebarger's conclusions as to what the evidence shows. This chapter, more than any preceding one, helped me to understand what Riddlebarger wanted to accomplish in writing the book. If I were to go back and reread the book after finishing this chapter, I am certain that Riddlebarger's presentation would be much clearer to me. All in all, this is a very strong book, disorientation aside. It is the first scholarly work on Revelation (outside of commentaries) that I have read, and I am very pleased that it has done what I hoped--it has broadened my theological horizons. I would suggest that anyone considering reading it first gain a basic understanding of and familiarity with amillennialism, postmillennialism, premillennialism, and preterism before delving into The Man of Sin. Then and only then should you consider reading it. Until then, go ahead and purchase it if you like. The cover will at least look good on your coffee table until you're ready to read it!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Photo Friday

Photo by Sandra McCampbell.
Sandy took this photo at our wedding rehearsal dinner at Tricia's uncle's house in the country. She used our digital camera, a Kodak EasyShare P850. It was taken sometime after sunset, when it was nice and dark. That camera represents the most "advanced" camera either of us have ever owned. I hope one day to be able to afford a camera that is a bit more towards the professional end of things.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Deaf Jedi Archives, Final Tally

Well, I catalogued the final book sitting in the stacks tonight. The final tally: 275 books. Count 'em (I did), two-hundred seventy-five books. I will admit the actual total is 276 - I am missing my copy of Boice and Ryken's The Doctrines of Grace. What did the current value of all these books total? I'll put it this way: it is over $5000. I could make a down payment on a car or put a nice dent in my student loans for the money I and my family has invested in these books. Which author tallied the most books? Surprisingly, R. C. Sproul with five titles. Next is Mark Dever with four, though one is his "9 Marks" booklet. Donald Grey Barnhouse also had four, but that is his 4-volume Romans commentary. No author had more than three titles in this listing. Theology was the largest category, with Doctrine making up its largest sub-category. The next largest category was Counseling. I was a Pastoral Counseling student, so that should not take any of you by surprise. Christian Living came in a surprising 3rd. Many of the books we buy apparently cannot be relegated to theology proper, but it is worth mentioning that the bulk of those books were purchased outside of class needs for personal or church usage. Taking into account that I consider much of what is stocked on the shelves of Christian bookstores to be nothing more than FLUFF, I was surprised to see this category be as large as it is. Biblical Studies (including languages) and Church History follow next. Well, that was an interesting look over the past month. I have 275 different books to keep me company over the next year or so. I will not be reading the counseling books except for those that are by Christian authors (i.e. Larry Crabb), unless someone can convince me otherwise. I hope that those of you who have not yet catalogued your libraries will take the time to do so. It is an invaluable tool to have (especially for insurance purposes!), and keeping track of your books can prevent double purchases and help you find books you know you have but have gone suspiciously missing!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Romans 1:1, Part 2

As promised, below is my sermon outline for Romans 1:1, to be preached this coming Sunday. I'm doing it in manuscript form so you can see how I am going to attempt my argument rather than just giving you the usual bullet points. I'm also changing the title; after I wrote this out I realized that "The Designated Hitter" didn't really enter my mind at all. No decision yet on what the title will be; I'll get there eventually. Anyway, with no further ado.... Romans 1:1 - "Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, one called an apostle, one set aside to the gospel of God" (Deaf Jedi Translation - DJT) This verse is an important verse for all of us. It is the first time in the Bible that Paul talks directly to us, his readers. And Paul chooses to tell us three things about himself: 1) he is a slave of Jesus; 2)he has been called to be an apostle; and 3) he has been "set aside" to the Gospel. Today I would like for us to look at what Paul is tellilng us about himself.

Paul the Slave

Paul calls himself a "slave" of Jesus. Why does he do that? First of all, the Greek word translated "slave" is also translated "servant." Together, this tells us that Paul is someone who is under commitment to serve. That commitment is something he cannot break even if he wanted to. He is a slave, and because he is a slave, he does not have any rights whatsoever. The only rights Paul has are those granted him by his master. Paul will tell us later in Romans that he has had two masters in his lifetime: sin and Jesus. What happened was that Jesus came and bought him from his former master, sin. He is still a slave; he simply serves a different master now. In the same way, Paul will tell us later in Romans, all of us are slaves. We are slaves first to sin, and after God saves us, we are slaves to Christ.

Paul the Called One

Paul also calls himself "the called one." He is a person who has specifically been chosen. Not only that, Paul says he was chosen to do fill a specific job, that of an apostle. An apostle is someone who has been sent to deliver a message. So Paul is telling us that he is a slave who has a specific job, to deliver messages for his master. God has chosen Paul to deliver messages for Him. In the same way, Paul will tell us later, each of us has been chosen by God to do a specific job. These are, firstly, our spiritual gifts, which Paul briefly talks about in Romans 12:3-8. He also talks a lot about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14. Secondly, God has chosen each of us to do certain things with our lives. Paul was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3), Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14), some of the apostles were fishermen, tax collectors, or accountants. You might be a minister, you might work at the post office, some of you work with me at UPS, some of you are stay-at-home moms, and some of you are fortunate enough to be retired! But God has chosen that role for each of you, just like He chose Paul to be an apostle.

Paul the Set-Aside One

Lastly, Paul calls himself "one set aside." What does he mean by that? Well, remember that Paul first says that he is a slave. Then he says he is a slave who has been given a specific job. Now he tells us what that job is. He has been picked to deliver a specific message, the Gospel. In the same way, each of us is to use our spiritual gifts in a specific way. I use my gifts to teach, preach, and counsel. Some of you use yours to encourage, to support, to speak the truth, to love, to speak wisely, and so on. Each of you use your spiritual gifts to do a specific thing, and no one uses them the same way. Pastor Tim usually uses his preaching gift to encourage and challenge you in the truth; I usually use my preaching gift to teach doctrine and show you the truth. We have the same gift, but we use it in two different ways. We also do our worldly jobs differently. Before I was promoted, I had the same job as some of our Deaf people at UPS, but I did it in my own way, just as they did their job in their own way. If you watched us side by side you could tell that we did some things differently. But each of us does our job in the way that God has decided that we will do it, not the way we want to do it or someone else wants us to do it.

"At The Same Time"

I want to draw your attention to the words "set aside" for a moment. Did you know those are the most important words in the entire sentence? In the Greek, the word that we translate "set aside" also tells us that Paul is a slave, a called one, and has been set aside at the same time. They are one and the same! Paul is a slave who is an apostle who has been set aside to preach the Gospel. To Paul, these three mean the same thing! Not only that, but the Greek word used here tells us that God is the one who made Paul a slave, called him an apostle, and gave him the job of preaching the Gospel. Paul will tell us in Galatians 1:15 that God had already chosen Paul before he was born. God decided long before Paul was born that he would become Jesus' slave and would be responsible for spreading the Gospel. The Greek word also tells us that this is happening to Paul every day. Each day, Paul becomes Jesus' slave, is called an apostle, and is given the job of preaching the Gospel. This is what we mean by the word sanctification. Every day Paul had to recognize that he belonged to God and had to obey God's will for his life. You and I are also slaves, called ones, and set apart ones at the same time. Just like God is at the same time Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we show a picture of that by being Christians, disciples, and witnesses. You and I also were chosen by God before we were born. Even before God made the universe, He chose you to play a part in His work. He saved you by His grace in Jesus' death on the cross. He commands you to obey Him in all things. Won't you give up trying to do things your way? God has already taken care of everything; all you must do is obey Him. How can you obey Him? Repent of your sins and trust Jesus as your Savior. If you are not a Christian, I ask you to trust Christ today. All you must do is repent of your sins. Ask God to give you faith to believe, and you will trust Jesus. When you trust Jesus, you will discover what God has made you to do in this life! If you are already a Christian, when you repent of your sins and trust Jesus, your sins are forgiven. You are restored to a right fellowship with God. Your bond with the Lord becomes deeper and stronger, because you have trusted Him to make you holy. The Bible tells us that now is the perfect time to repent and believe. Will you obey what God has said and trust Him?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Designated Hitter: Romans 1:1, Part 1

The Silent Holocron, beginning this week, will devote Monday space to the following Sunday’s sermon.  I feel this will help not only me as I tweak the sermon prior to Sunday through any feedback you may feel led to give, but it will also help our voice interpreters by allowing them to prepare beforehand.  You’re getting the first one a day early, just because I feel that dang good.

In an attempt to see if Blogger for Word does the trick with my Greek fonts, I’m going to post my Greek work for next Sunday’s sermon using that tool.  You may need to download the SIL Greek font to read this work.  I hope many of you don’t.  But oh well.

Next Sunday I will begin preaching through the book of Romans.  Being in a Deaf church is conducive to the type of exposition Romans requires, because I cannot successfully lump large blocks of text together in a sermon.  More on that in my series on Deaf ministry.

But with no further ado, let us examine the Greek text of Romans 1:1.

PaÂlov doÂlov Cristo HIjso kljtèv ‡pçstolov ‡fwrism™nov e¸v eÇagg™lion qeoÂ

Transliterated, we have:

Paulos doulos Xristou Iesou kletos apostolos aphorismenos eis euangelion theou

Translated, we have:

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, one called an apostle, one who is being separated to a gospel of God

This is a very powerful verse.  Once we leave behind the book of Acts and begin to really get into the meat and potatoes of the New Testament, we encounter this statement from Paul.  There are three major words in this verse:

doÂlov- This noun can be translated either servant or slave.  It has traditionally been translated as “bondservant.”  The construction it begins is describing Paul as one who is enslaved to Jesus.

kljtèv- This is an adjective that can either refer back to “Paul” or to “slave.”  I believe the context of the verse points this adjective back to Paul, given that it begins a second construction in the phrase.  This construction is also descriptive, naming Paul as “a called one,” and specifically “one called (to be an) apostle.”

‡fwrism™nov- Now we arrive at what I believe to be the most important word in the verse.  This is a Present Passive Participle translated "one who is being separated" or "one who is being set aside," used descriptively of its noun, “Paul.”  Here are some bullet points that I hope will underscore why I think this is the most important word in understanding the verse:
  • The present participle indicates simultaneous action.  This means that Paul is at the same time a slave, a called one, and one who is being separated.  There is no distinction between the three.

  • This simultaneous action means that Paul was enslaved, called, and set apart at one moment.  In lay terms, the moment Paul was saved, in that instant he was also the Apostle Paul who preached the gospel.

  • The present tense indicates progressive, continual action.  This means that Paul is constantly being enslaved, called, and set apart.  This is an every day occurrence for Paul, not a one-time event.

  • This means that, in Paul’s mind, his salvation, sanctification, and service is something that happens daily; and not in the Catholic sense of works (confession, Eucharist, etc.) – it is a work of something outside of himself, as we will see in the next bullet point.

  • The passive voice indicates the subject is being acted upon by something outside of itself.  This means that Paul is saying very clearly that he is not the one who enslaved himself to Christ; he is not the one who called himself to apostleship; and he is not the one who set himself apart to the gospel.  Someone else did.

  • This is why it is important to understand that it is faith, not human works, that brings us to Christ.  It is the electing and providential work of God – not human effort – that saves us, determines our calling in life, and how we will fulfill that calling.

As you can see, this word theologically loads what otherwise could be a ho-hum introduction to the letter.  We could also say of this word as indicating Paul has been “designated” to the Gospel.  Paul is a slave who has been designated to deliver a specific message.  He is the “designated hitter” that God has inserted into His lineup!  More on that tomorrow.

Now, a slave does not have the right to designate his assignment, much less to whom he will be indentured.  This means there must be prior planning on the part of the one whom has procured the slave.  One does not just buy a slave indiscriminately.  There must be a plan in place for the slave before it is procured, and the slave-master, when looking over the market, would be thinking of the exact job description.  All that is left for the slave-master to do is procure the slave that he thinks best fits the purpose for which he is procuring the slave.

What this tells us is that Paul is indirectly referencing – hold on to your hats, now – election.  God owns all the slaves.  All of us agree with this (I hope).  However, as the master, He may select any slave for any specific purpose in His mind.  He goes to the slave-market that is the world and redeems certain of the slaves for the purposes that He has, and sets them to their work.  God does not have to redeem every slave; indeed, the master only selects those slaves of which He has need.  He has selected some and passed over others.

How arrogant must we seem, to God, to beat our chests and proclaim that we have a choice of whether or not to accept Christ?  We are slaves, and Paul will make that abundantly clear in later chapters of the book.  And as slaves, we have no legal rights whatsoever.  We do not even have the right of free choice.  This is why election is necessary – God must choose us before we could ever hope to choose Him.

With that, I will stop.  Tomorrow I will unveil my sermon outline and show how the discussion above relates to each point.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.  Enjoy!         UPDATE 5:43 PM: Before I forget, SIL Greek font rocks the casbah. Go get it and use it for all your Greek needs. It looks good on Blogger, but of course there likely will be the need to download it in order to view it online. I used it to write Greek research papers in the past, and the current version is even easier to use. There is also a SIL Hebrew font, but I don't currently have the link on hand--I'll have to dig it out. Hearne, look for that first verse of John 3 later this week now that I'm finally satisfied. I hope this offering will appease you until then!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Photo Friday

Another humorous photo for Friday. When Deaf Cafe is over this weekend, I will try to post a pic from that next Friday.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eucharistic BlogQuizzing

My Anglican brother, Ryan Hall found something interesting, a Lord's Supper theology quiz. Here's how I did:
You scored as Calvin. You are John Calvin. You have a Nestorian Christology and separate the Divinity and Humanity of Jesus. You believe only those who have faith are united to Christ, who is present spiritually, yet you call this "Real."











Eucharistic theology
created with
This is cool. Calvin's theology of the Lord's Supper is one of the most interesting things we could read about. I find myself agreeing with him on many points. For a good, in-depth study of Calvin's thought on this issue, pick up this book: Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper by Keith Mathison. It's worth the price.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Introducing Deaf Ministry - Preliminary Remarks

Over the past two years, I have been blessed to be the associate pastor of Louisville Baptist Deaf Church. I have been involved in this church for a total of 6 years, one under watchcare and three as a full member before becoming associate pastor. I cut my teeth on Deaf ministry here, under the tutelage and mentorship of Rev. Timothy Bender. Pastor Tim continues to mentor me, and I have done nothing but learn under his loving and gracious pastorate. During my time at LBDC, I have come to have a growing expansion of my world, in both the hearing world and Deaf world. I have been introduced to many "important" people in the world of hearing and Deaf ministry, and have been privileged to interact with many others through the medium of the internet. In a recent casual discussion with a friend, he mentioned a certain pastor with a widely-read blog, and how he had been blessed to have on-going correspondence with him. Later, I realized that I seem to have been placed in such a position that I have no other option but to make people aware about Deaf ministry. I feared, at first, that such thinking was ludicrous. Indeed, as I met certain individuals, it seemed to me that such thoughts meant I was "getting too big for my britches." I've always been one to keep my head down and my eye on the ball. Denominational involvement with the Southern Baptist Convention (hereafter "the hearing convention") has never been high on my list of priorities, and what I had been envisioning called for a heavy amount of elbow-rubbing with many of these people and many more I have never met. I felt that it would be enough for me to focus on my church and the Deaf associations we belong to (The Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf and Kentucky Baptist Conference of the Deaf, hereafter SBCD and KBCD). Then I had a serious discussion with another friend, who basically started smacking me upside the head! My friend upbraided me like I have not upbraided in some time. Instead of asking whether or not I belonged in such circles of influence, the question I should have been asking was, "What opportunities has Providence placed at my disposal by which I may advance the cause of Christ? If I speak up, will God be pleased to use me?" Furthermore, my friend chided me for being defeatist and negative, and for not trusting that the Lord knew what He was doing by placing me in such circumstances. Now that I have been properly humbled, and have had a week and a half to think and pray over this, I come to you with a new series, long promised but long in the coming. Over the next month or so I am going to write a series of posts, at least once weekly, describing for you what Deaf ministry is all about. And I am putting all of you on notice. I will not be ignored. I will shout it from the rooftops, sign it in the hallways of the church and seminary, call upon the Lord's name to make His way straight that His silent people may come to Him. And I believe many of you are standing in that way. It is my intention to bring you, those in a position to do something about this in your own churches, and perhaps even within our denomination, a first-person perspective of ministry to the largest unreached people group in America and the world. I will not claim "expert" status, but I will rest heavily on the experiences and writings of those who have gone before me in Deaf ministry, and how those experiences have shaped my approach to Deaf ministry. I will welcome you into my world, the world of a believer with a unique perspective on both hearing and Deaf worlds. I will welcome you into the world of Deaf ministry. It is time for our hearing brothers and sisters in the SBC to understand just what they have overlooked. It is time for our Deaf brothers and sisters to partner with them in the Great Commission. This is my vision. This is my goal. I long for the day when the hearing and deaf conventions join forces to effect the greatest outpouring of God's grace on the Deaf that the world has ever seen. It is my fervent belief that this is what God desires. Deaf ministry has been ignored and overlooked for many years. In the next post, I will present you some sobering statistics that will show just how overlooked we are. My mother-in-law calls deafness "The Hidden Handicap." Once you have seen the stark reality of Deaf ministry in my next post, I pray you will be as brokenhearted as I at the horror of the vast unreached "silent sinners."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gaining Eschatological Equilibrium

Well, I pulled the next book from the ol' library out. It is The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist by Kim Riddlebarger. So far I have read 66 pages (no jokes please) and I must admit that I am disoriented. Riddlebarger is an amillennialist, and as someone who grew up in dispensational premillennialism, this is quite dazing and confusing. But I am enjoying it--I have a challenge, and I love challenges. Eschatology was one of the first theological subjects I seriously studied after the Lord saved me, and it continues to be of interest, though I have moved on to much more profitable and important doctrines. Eschatology seems to be the initial foray into theology for many new Christians, especially in the past ten years. It also seems to be the area that leads new Christians into a lot of false and misleading doctrine. That alone makes it worth studying and at least attempting to get right. I don't know what to think about the amil position at this point. I have on principle dropped dispensationalism, largely in part to my studies at Southern and my distaste for what I call "Dater Dispys;" that is, those dispensationalists that try to set a date for the Second Coming (Hal Lindsey, Grant Jefferey, anyone?). I see no evidence for "dual-covenants" and the like, for example; though I am sure much of what I learned in dispensationalism has been tainted by the Dater Dispys. It just boggles me that a system that tries so hard to be biblical can fall so short of being biblically correct. At this time, I have retained some of the dispensational viewpoints on eschatology. I am still a strong premillennialist; but I have dropped the notion of a pre-tribulation rapture to the point where I have almost abandoned the idea of a rapture completely. At this time I hold a post-tribulation rapture, which I believe to be entirely consistent with a Scriptural view of a pre-millennial return of Christ. I also hold a dispensationalist assumption that the words of Scripture actually mean something literal; that is, when a prophet describes something, it is entirely possible that what he describes literally does look like that. As such, many of the assertions Riddlebarger has put forth thus far are completely foreign to me, and that is disorienting. Anyhow, I discussed with my wife last night that I wanted to set a goal of reading at least 100 pages a day when I did read, in an attempt to give focus to my books and to absorb and digest rather than picking the book apart 10 pages here, 5 pages there, 20 pages here, 40 pages there. I already had a system in place for school reading where I would read 20 pages at a time and then take a short break, then read an additional 20 pages and then break again. In this way I could read chunks of a book at one sitting and not burn myself out. So I intend to use this system to read at least 100 pages a day from now on. Come on, with 241 books in your library (thus far), you'd want to be knocking in those runs instead of leaving men on base, wouldn't you?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Review: Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?

Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? is one of James Montgomery Boice's final books. He wrote it in response to what he believed to be the ignorance of God and neglect of the gospel of grace as the root problem of the church today. Instead of a focus on God and His gospel, the church has become focused on worldly success--large memberships, large budgets, programs up the wazoo, a nosedive in worship. Boice's belief was that only a return to the Word of God can change the state of today's church. Boice felt that the major emphasis of this change should be centered around the five foundational truths of the Protestant Reformation; that is, the modern church must have as its central confession the Five Solas of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratia, sola fide, and soli Deo gloria must once again become the standard of theology and practice in our churches if we are ever to hope for a second Reformation. By the way, for those reading who don't know what these are, those Latin terms mean Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, and Glory to God Alone. Boice presents a convincing argument that we as a church have abandoned these five foundational principles. We have abandoned the sufficiency of Scripture; abandoned the exclusivity of the Gospel; abandoned a salvation given, not earned; abandoned trust in God through Jesus alone as the way of salvation; and abandoned the exaltation of the Creator rather than the creature. Instead we have taken on worldly substitutes that are but pale imitations. We have replaced sufficiency with ambiguity; exclusivity with relativism; the free gift with a salvation of works; surrender at our inability with self-confidence; and humble deference and awe with arrogant self-esteem or self-importance. Boice examines each of these five solas individually, building a case for each as the standard for Christian practice. He then moves toward application in the areas of worship and life. Boice does excellently in outlining the failures of modern worship techniques and concepts, showing them to be largely man-focused rather than God-focused. He points out very glaringly the Godward thrust of the old hymns, and challenges the reader to consider worship that has a Godward focus rather than personal enrichment. The final chapter on reforming our lives I found to be somewhat disappointing. While Boice soundly hammered home what is necessary to achieve reformation in our lives--i.e. lives of repentance, lives of faith, and lives of community--but he does little to give the reader practical suggestions of how to achieve this. He is long on theory in this chapter but short on application. I find myself wondering if this chapter was actually published unfinished. All in all, this book is a great precursor to his final book, The Doctrines of Grace. Indeed, they seem to be meant to be read in tandem, this one first and The Doctrines of Grace second. I would recommend this book to all of us; particularly one who is looking to bring about change in his or her church or ministry.

Deaf Jedi Archives Update & Holocron Book Club

Hey folks, let's talk books. At last count, the cataloguing of my library has reached 241 books. All of these books were purchased during my time at Southern (August 1999-May 2006). The vast majority of these were bought in the campus bookstore or were purchased off-campus as I found them or was hunting for reading, study, and research materials. I have decided not to share the total current value of the books (many are still in "new" condition) because I don't want any of you still in school (especially those of you just starting out) to despair of the cost you could incur over the next four or five years. Again, I remind you that I still have books sitting at home in Tennessee, and I am not counting any works of fiction other than Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. So the actual total (and value) will increase as I get to the end. Some of you may remember that I have challenged myself to read through my library over the next year instead of buying new books. This is intended to save money for me and Tricia as we seek to establish our finances as a married couple. I have only had one or two slips since May, and the second of those slips was a planned one, to purchase the abridged version of Martin Luther's commentary on Romans to assist in preparing to preach through Romans beginning this fall. Now for the Book Club. Today I got an email from Christian Book Distributors (CBD) announcing their 10th anniversary sale. Here's a few things I'm drooling over. Kenneth Wuest's Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, 4 Volumes. On sale for $24.99. The Early Church Fathers, 38 volumes, $199.99. List price is $1100!!!! Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 10 volumes, $99.99. When I was in college these were the gold standard for Greek research papers. Arthur W. Pink's Exposition on the Gospel of John, $18.99. After reading The Sovereignty of God, I'm convinced one can do no wrong in reading Pink. They also have Calvin's Commentaries (all 22 volumes) for $99, but Tricia already gave me those as a birthday/graduation gift. Dang, we should have waited. Also, I have just finished one of the unfinished books I've been working on: Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? by James Montgomery Boice. Look for a review in the next couple of days. And that wraps up the dual update. Enjoy your week, folks!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thoughts on Billy Graham

This week I got sent a link to the Billy Graham article that's got everyone up in arms by a church member who keeps up with "Christian news." Knowing this person, she is wondering what I think about the whole deal. Well, I'll tell her exactly what I said over at "Provocatin' Panties." (runs and hides before Timmy hurts him) Yes, I know it's old news by now, but in a Deaf church "old news" has a way of becoming The Big Story until someone (usually the pastor) speaks on the issue and it dies. To begin, I'm among the throng of those scratching their heads, saying "Huh?" Is Graham really denying biblical inerrancy? Is he embracing universalism? What in tarnation is going on? My first reaction was simply, "He's getting old and he's less interested in fighting the good fight." My second reaction was, "They should have kept Joel Osteen a little futher away." My third reaction is the one I should have had first, to stop and pray for the man. Too many of us in recent days have had the reaction of attack. Few have given well-nuanced reactions about this interview; I am blessed to have read several of them including a couple by my SBTS brethren. I don't claim to have the ability of nuance, so I'll try to take a couple of points and just simply react.
He is an evangelist still unequivocally committed to the Gospel, but increasingly thinks God's ways and means are veiled from human eyes and wrapped in mystery. "There are many things that I don't understand," he says. He does not believe that Christians need to take every verse of the Bible literally; "sincere Christians," he says, "can disagree about the details of Scripture and theology—absolutely."
Okay. Nothing worth getting riled up about here, because it is true. Now, before anyone starts accusing me of not believing in inerrancy or whatever, let me ask you if the all of the prophetic parts of Daniel and Revelation are literal or not, or if they require us to think in a nuanced way. And before we start talking about heretics like Marcus Borg, stop and think for a minute. Only the silliest of you would say that I'm not a Christian (or even a "sincere Christian") because I don't agree with limited atonement. I disagree with many of my peers on Scripture and theology on this issue; yet I'm not branded a heretic (except in jest, of course). Hopefully you catch my drift.
Graham spends hours now with his Bible, at once savoring and reconsidering old stories and old lessons. While he believes Scripture is the inspired, authoritative word of God, he does not read the Bible as though it were a collection of Associated Press bulletins straightforwardly reporting on events in the ancient Middle East. "I'm not a literalist in the sense that every single jot and tittle is from the Lord," Graham says. "This is a little difference in my thinking through the years." He has, then, moved from seeing every word of Scripture as literally accurate to believing that parts of the Bible are figurative—a journey that began in 1949, when a friend challenged his belief in inerrancy during a conference in southern California's San Bernardino Mountains. Troubled, Graham wandered into the woods one night, put his Bible on a stump and said, "Lord, I don't understand all that is in this book, I can't explain it all, but I accept it by faith as your divine word."
Now we can begin the head-scratching. On the surface, I think the interviewer has grossly misrepresented Graham on this point. The story referenced here is usually told in Graham biographies to show how Graham rejected the idea that the Bible is not inerrant. As far as his "jot and tittle" remark, I am scratching my head on that one. It makes no sense, given his history. I'd really like to know the context of that remark and what Graham said prior to and after this remark. It is, indeed, troubling; however I would rather wait and hope Graham clarifies his remark. But I do understand that some parts of the Bible can be read figuratively, given the examples the article uses. It never ceases to boggle me when people insist the days of Creation were six 24-hour days when we didn't get a sun until the fourth day. It's completely up in the air how long the first three days were! Was it a 1000 year day? A 1-hour day? We don't know. It's a matter of interpretation. Oh dear, break out the straightjacket, Stephen's lost it! But anyone with a bit of common sense and a bit of study can get a good sense of what is literal and what is figurative. It's my personal opinion that the Bible rarely deals in figuratives unless prophecy is involved; then we tend to have a lot of figurative language to describe what will literally happen. Of course, we do have the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, non-prophetic books all. Three rules of interpreting prophecy and figurative language that I was taught in college and still use when reading prophecy: 1) Could this literally be that way? 2) Could the writer be trying to describe what he is literally seeing/hearing/etc.? 3) Could the writer simply be trying to make a point?
Asked about his son's use of the phrase "evil and wicked" in reference to Islam, Graham says: "I would not say Islam is wicked and evil ... I have a lot of friends who are Islamic. There are many wonderful people among them. I have a great love for them. I have spoken at Islamic meetings, in Nigeria and in different parts of the world." The father's view, then, is different from the son's. "I'm sure there are many things that he and I are not in total agreement about," Graham says. "I'm an old man, he's a young man in the prime of life." Anne Graham Lotz, after expressing her deep respect for her brother's life and work, said: "When Daddy was my brother's age, he was saying some pretty strong things, too, so you have to remember that experience and the living of a life can soften your perspective."
This part of the article is what made me think his age is affecting him. I don't think he really wants to open this can of worms; perhaps he does not see any inroads for the Gospel by engaging in debate over Islam. He stated before this quote that all he wanted to do was discuss the Gospel. And in his ministry, that has primarily consisted of telling people that Jesus saves, not that their religion is false. Yes, I know that debate itself can be an inroad, but for an old man, Graham may just want a little peace and quiet.
When asked whether he believes heaven will be closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people, though, Graham says: "Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't ... I don't want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have." Such an ecumenical spirit may upset some Christian hard-liners, but in Graham's view, only God knows who is going to be saved: "As an evangelist for more than six decades, Mr. Graham has faithfully proclaimed the Bible's Gospel message that Jesus is the only way to Heaven," says Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross. "However, salvation is the work of Almighty God, and only he knows what is in each human heart."
This is the biggest head-scratcher of all of them. But Graham is exactly right--who gets into heaven is a decision only the Lord will make. I really do wish he'd clarify this comment by reiterating his belief that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. I do think he is right to say that God loves all of us regardless of what "label" we have. If He didn't, He would not have sent Jesus as the ultimate expression of His love. But we know that God's love does not act in a saving manner to everyone. Graham does not here say that it does act in such a way, he simply says it is none of his business. It is God's business alone. And that's true--only God gets to decide who is saved. All we can do is preach the Gospel and let the Lord do His work. Again, I would like to know the context of this quote before passing judgment on Graham as a universalist.
If he had his life to live over again, Graham says he would spend more time immersed in Scripture and theology. He never went to seminary, and his lack of a graduate education is something that still gives him a twinge. "The greatest regret that I have is that I didn't study more and read more," he says. "I regret it, because now I feel at times I am empty of what I would like to have been. I have friends that have memorized great portions of the Bible. They can quote [so much], and that would mean a lot to me now."
This is the best quote in the entire article. All of us can give a hearty "amen." Well, I hope said church member is now satisfied. I'm going to bed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Photo

Here's my Friday Photo. For background info on the pic, you need to read Donna Shaw's recent blog here. Pay particular attention to the comment I left. Anyway, without any further ado, one of my favorite photographs of all time. It describes exactly what the squirrels around campus do when we're not looking: For Donna's sake, I hope they're only training to go after those evil, Sith Lord albino squirrels at the University of Louisville.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Cultivated to Blog?"

Bruce Prescott of the Mainstream Baptist blog claims I've been cultivated by Albert Mohler to blog. Now, my interaction with this particular blog by brother Bruce has been decidedly sporadic. However, I've witnessed over the past year his incessant, unreasonable, borderline hate-filled attacks on conservative Southern Baptists. There are continual unfounded accusations on his blog towards certain individuals in our convention. Now he has touched upon me and others in the SBTS blogosphere. I find his assertion that I and others on this bloglisting are "fundamentalists" to be knee-slapping funny. Especially when one can find jestful statements I've written about "not giving fundamentalists time of day." Even funnier is his assertion that I, and we, have been cultivated by Al Mohler to blog. After the Band of Bloggers fellowship and Russell Moore's tongue-in-cheek characterization of bloggers as "guys sitting around in their underwear," I wonder just where Prescott is getting his information. For the record, I got into blogging only after observing my buds Ryan and Nick start their own blogs. I still don't remember how I happened upon the "Christ-bloggers," as Mr. Frank Turk has labelled us. I do know that I finally found the SBTS blogroll after getting a nod from a fellow student (who will remain nameless until he updates his blog--the last update is nearly a year old) and following the links on his blog. I blog for God's glory, my own enjoyment and for fellowship with distant brothers and sisters, not for Al Mohler. If being a guy who actually believes what the Bible says makes me a fundamentalist, I'd be scared to see Prescott's definition of a conservative.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Welch's Grape Juice

Former SBC President Bobby Welch continues to suffer "foot-in-mouth" disease. See the story here. This is just another in a line of "Dumb and Dumber" comments Welch has made over the past few months. It really grieves me to see a good man stoop so low, whether unintentional or not.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Photo Friday

Here's some more pics from the honeymoon: The famed Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. Go eat at their restaurant, it is the best Southern home cookin' you will ever get. It is even better than Cracker Barrell! A mill at a Cades Cove settlement. Another of my favorite pics. Tricia sitting on one of the millstones at the above pictured mill.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

There Is Still Good In Him...

From BP News: ------------------------------------------------------------ TOW TRUCK DRIVER WITNESSES TO DARTH VADER -- For Steve Burdick, a tow truck driver in Syracuse, N.Y., the only thing out of the ordinary on a tow request July 22 was that the car was a $125,000 Ferrari -- something he had never towed before and didn’t even know how to hook up to his truck. But Burdick would soon learn he was towing Darth Vader, or at least the man who played Anakin Skywalker in the last two “Star Wars” movies. Hayden Christensen, a 25-year-old actor, was driving the Ferrari in Bullrun 2006, an elite cross-country tour from New York to Los Angeles, when the transmission broke down on Interstate 81 in Syracuse. “I just thought he had a rich daddy,” Burdick told The Syracuse Post-Standard. “I asked him what he does for a living and he said he was studying to become an actor, so I didn’t think much of it. I asked him if he knows Tom Cruise and he said he did.” During the 240-mile drive to Christensen’s hometown of Toronto, Canada, Burdick, a Christian, asked Christensen if he had given his life to the Lord. The actor told the driver he believed “people came from monkeys,” according to The Post-Standard. The two listened to cassettes by Christian motivational speaker Zig Ziglar called “A View from the Top,” and it wasn’t until they arrived at the border crossing that Burdick realized who Christensen was. “The girls at the border knew him,” he said. “Two of them got his autograph.... That’s when he told me about ‘Star Wars.’” Even though Christensen didn’t show much interest in the Gospel during the ride, Burdick told The Post-Standard he plans to send the actor a Zig Ziglar disc set. -------------------------------------------------------------- Is this not awesome? Let us pray that one day the Spirit will work in Christiansen's heart, and the still small voice of God will whisper to him, "Hayden, I am your Father."