I sin – Grant that I may
never cease grieving because of it,
never be content with myself,
never think I can reach a point of perfection.
Kill my envy, command my tongue,
trample down self.
Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure,
to live for thee and not for self,
to copy thy words, acts, spirit,
to be transformed into thy likeness,
to be consecrated wholly to thee,
to live entirely to thy glory.
Deliver me from attachment to things unclean,
from wrong associations,
from the predominance of evil passions,
from the sugar of sin as well as its gall,
that with self-loathing, deep contrition,
earnest heart searching
I may come to thee, cast myself on thee,
trust in thee, cry to thee,
be delivered by thee.
O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that
all things are shadows, but thou art substance,
all things are quicksands, but thou art mountain,
all things are shifting, but thou art anchor,
all things are ignorance, but thou art wisdom.
If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat,
so be it,
but do thou sit at the furnace mouth
to watch the ore that nothing be lost.
If I sin wilfully, grievously, tormentedly,
in grace take away my mourning
and give me music;
remove my sackcloth
and clothe me with beauty;
still my sighs
and fill my mouth with song,
then give me summer weather as a Christian.
From Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Understanding the Differences Between Christianity and Islam
By Timothy George
Category: World Religions, Evangelism
Indexes: Further Reading List, Key Terms for Islam, Historical Timeline
Timothy George was raised in a family that was “a little charismatic,” emphasizing the experience of emotion in worship rather than the stimulus of the mind.(1) Although not encouraged to attain higher levels of education or to pursue formalized training for ministry, in God’s good providence, George was afforded an opportunity to study at Harvard Divinity School where he was “the only evangelical Christian.”(2) George now serves as the dean of Beeson Divinity School, an interdenominational, evangelical institution (and seminary home for the present author). His commitment to evangelicalism includes a high view of the sovereignty of God as well as the trinitarian nature of the Godhead. Beeson’s affirmation of this trinitarian nature is evident in its admissions application(3) requiring each potential applicant to interact with the Apostles’ Creed, which is explicit in its trinitarian understanding.
This trinitarian understanding also lies at the heart of Timothy George’s book Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? as it “is the necessary theological framework for understanding the story of Jesus as the story of God.”(4) George’s impetus for writing the book came in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. In an effort to help others understanding the basic tenets of Islam in light of orthodox Christianity, he has offered this book as a tool. He is quick to say that “this book is not a vigorous apologetic against Islam and its many controversial practices…[but] the doctrine of God is at the heart of both Islamic theology and Christian faith. All other issues, however important, are secondary and derivative.”(5) George argues that Islam rejects the Christian doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and salvation by grace(6) and any effort to evangelize Muslims must inevitably deal with these issues.(7) Oftentimes these issues are misunderstood by Muslims and these misunderstandings have found their way into the Qu’ran. George suggests avoiding the perils of Muslim-Christian debate as it is highly possible to “win and argument and lose a soul.”(8)
The author primarily uses both the Qu’ran and the Bible to outline the basic beliefs of Muslims and Christians. He also quotes Muslim and Christian scholars showing a great balance of research. The author interestingly shows many of the compatibilities between the two holy books as though passages from the Qu’ran could feasibly have been written as passages in the Christian Scriptures.(9) However, it is not sufficient in any evangelism effort to simply point out the similarities between Christianity and any other religion. We must go one step further and preach Jesus Christ as “crucified, risen, and coming again.”(10)
Throughout the book, the author is attempting to answer the question posed by its title: Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? George cautiously answers both “yes” and “no” while he illuminates the need for us to examine and explain the use of terminology that may be misleading.(11) The “yes” comes from the fact that “the Father of Jesus is the only God there is” and therefore he is the God over every other person who has ever lived, including Muhammad.(12) He responds with a “no” because Christians and Muslims “have radically different understandings of the character and nature of God.”(13) However, because of the “yes” answer Christians should have a passion to resolve the “no.” This should not lead us to a prideful contempt of our Muslim neighbor; rather, it should compel us to shed “evangelical tears”(14) for those who are trusting in their own works-based righteousness and not in the atoning death of Christ. A reading of this important and informative book will help each of us to do so.
(1) Conversation with the present author September 11, 2008.
(3) Beeson Divinity School’s application for admission may be accessed here Accessed 9/25/08 for the purpose of this review.
(4) Timothy George, Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Understanding the Differences Between Christianity and Islam (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 59.
(5) Ibid., 16.
(6) Ibid., 41.
(7) Ibid., 132.
(8) Ibid., 128.
(9) Ibid., 71.
(10) Ibid., 74.
(11) "[We] cannot say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God without qualifying biblically what we mean by same and what we mean by God." Ibid., 131.
(12) Ibid., 129.
(13) Ibid., 130. Thoughts on the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and salvation by grace alone are the predominant distinctions between the two.
(14) Ibid., 90.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
by Thomas Doolittle
We should admire the wisdom and the grace of God that by the stripes inflicted upon Christ the wounds that sin had made in our souls should be healed. The wisdom of God is wonderful in this, to find out such a way, that the scourging of His Son should be the cure of our souls, and His wounding our healing.
And the grace of God is in this to be admired, that when He might have laid the strokes of His revenging justice upon us, He would accept the scourging of his Son for the punishment of our sins, that we might not be scourged forever. We deserved to be broken into pieces with His iron rod, and to be beaten with the rod of His wrath, but we are saved and delivered by the stripes that were laid upon His Son.
Our wounds were killing wounds, but the wounds of Christ are healing wounds. Oh what a surgeon is the Son of God that makes a balsam of His sores, to heal and cure ours! What manner of physician is this, that by His own blood fetched from his body, by cruel stripes and blows, makes a potion for diseased sinners, and thereby cures all their maladies!
Oh think of this till you do admire the wisdom and grace of God.
---Thomas Doolittle, Day by Day with the English Puritans, Randall Pederson, ed. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), p 108
"...O to grace how great a debtor...
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I do not like rap music. I never have and likely never will.
I once did not like the gospel. In fact, I was once an enemy of the cross and would still be to this day had not the the Holy Spirit accomplished his regenerating work to the glory of God.
I still do not like rap music, but I do like the gospel. And when the day dawns that the gospel can be communicated through a medium in which it might reach an entire generation, I am obligated to be willing to change my preferences. The day has dawned, and there is a rising generation of Christian, hip-hop artists who are using their talents to the glory of God to further his name throughout the nations. Lamp Mode is one of those artists and this video below reflects some of the most truth-filled lyrics that I have heard centered on the tri-unity of the Godhead.
Lamp Mode's mission statement says that they are intent on "highlighting the Character of God, while presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ and a biblical world view through hiphop culture." I believe that they have accomplished this purpose. At the recent Legacy Conference in Chicago, Paul Washer who was one of the speakers for the conference said "I came here thinking I would hear hip-hop. I heard preaching. I heard preaching."
I still do not like rap music, but I do like the gospel. And this is not rap music; this is true, biblical preaching of the gospel of the triune God.
ChorusDownload Full Lyrics with Scripture References and Devotional Here
Glory to the Father
Glory to the Son
Glory to the Spirit
Three and yet One
One in your essence
Three in your persons
The same in your nature
Distinct in your working
Oh my soul- behold the wonder of the Trinity
Blessed be the Trinity, Oh, what a mystery!
I’ll stand amazed for the rest of my days
Pouring out my heart in Triune praise
HT:Christ, My Righteousness
Monday, March 31, 2008
With over 1 billion people, China is home to roughly 1/6th of the world's population. China has been a breeding ground for Marxist philosophy and the communistic regime has attempted to filter out all forms of religion. However, as history has proved, the Christian church has experienced phenomenal growth under such oppression although true statistics can not be validated. Nonetheless, the true church is healthy (arguably more healthy than the western church) and is growing exponentially.
Such growth under opposition is impressive and encouraging, however, we should be careful not to lose sight of the still great need for evangelization. The majority of Chinese peoples have still never been exposed to the saving grace made available through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most are either atheistic (as the government would prefer) and others still have strong ties to Buddhism, Daoism (or Taoism), or other Chinese ethnic religions. Since the staunch Buddhist denies the existence of evil altogether, the concept of an indwelling sin nature is even more foreign to them. Daoism is where the familiar Yin-Yang symbol finds its origins and the philosophy expressed is that of an intermingling of good and evil to the extent that there is no clear distinction. Although fun to draw, this philosophy has grave implications for the thinking Christian.
Our friends at Operation World have been focusing on China since March 24 and will continue to do so until April 5. Follow this link to Operation World for an excellent overview of the country, its geography, religion, and politics. This will also be helpful with tools on how to pray for China.
It is interesting that I probably have a personal association with more missionaries to this area of the world than to any other. I'm not sure why I find this interesting given the high density of the world's population, but it seems interesting nonetheless.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Islam was founded by Muhammad in the year 610 after he received his first revelation from the angel Gabriel in a cave in Mount Hira.(1) This revelation was then memorized and dictated to others (since Muhammad could neither read nor write) and this collection of writing, or recitation, came to be known as the Qu’ran. This simple beginning has now become one of the largest religions in the world and is likely the fastest growing religion at the present time.
The basic philosophy of Islam may be divided into two categories: beliefs and obligations. The major beliefs are what Christians would refer to as “non-negotiable” in manners of doctrine. Muslims believe in “God”, whom they refer to as Allah, however, he is not to be confused with the Trinitarian God of Christian Scripture. Rather, it is said that Allah “has no son nor partner, and that none has the right to be worshipped but Him alone.”(2) Allah is also all-powerful and all-knowing, having planned creation’s events since the beginning of time. “He knows what has happened, what will happen, and how it will happen. No affair occurs in the whole world except by His will. Whatever He wills is, and whatever He does not will is not and will never be.”(3)
The next major belief is the Muslim’s belief in angels. Since the angel Gabriel is said to have given the message of the Qu’ran to Muhammad, it is necessarily imperative that a Muslim testifies to the existence of angels.
The third major belief is the belief in God’s revealed books. These books include the Qu’ran, the Jewish Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels. There are some groups of Muslims (Sunni Muslims in particular) who believe also in the authority of the Sunna which “includes the Hadith in which the sayings and conduct of Muhammad and his companions are recorded.”(4) Shi’ites, on the other hand, do not accept the Sunna as authoritative and prefer to view the Imam (a pope-like figure) as the final authority. Shi’ites still await the return of the twelfth Imam. Most Muslims agree, however, that the only book that remains in an uncorrupted state is the Qu’ran.
Another major belief for Muslims is to believe in the prophets who were messengers of God. “According to the Qu’ran, God has sent a prophet to every nation to preach the message of there being only one God. In all, 124,000 prophets have been sent…”(5) Many of these prophets are in the Christian tradition such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. It is uniformly believed, however, that “God’s final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.”(6)
The final two beliefs for a Muslim are the belief in the Day of Judgment and the belief in Al-Qadar. On the Day of Judgment, “all people will be resurrected for God’s judgment according to the beliefs and deeds.”(7) Al-Qadar is the Muslim’s concept of predestination and it is required for the Muslim to submit to the will of Allah lest he not be considered faithful.
The next subcategory in the philosophy of Islam is the obligations which are also known as the Five Pillars of Islam. These are fairly straightforward and uniform throughout all of Islam. Some sects may add other obligations to this list, but none will come short of it. The first pillar is the “testimony of faith.” This is paramount to being a Muslim for it is here that the Muslim proclaims, “La ilaha illa Allahm Muhammadur rasoolu Allah” meaning “There is no true god [deity] but God [Allah], and Muhammad is the Messenger [Prophet] of God.”(8) The next obligation is to pray five times per day while facing Makkah (or Mecca). These prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. I find it interesting that the Muslim, I.A. Ibrahim declares that, “in prayer, a person feels inner happiness, peace, and comfort, and that God is pleased with him or her.”(9)
Muslims are also required to give alms to the poor in the amount of 2.5% (or 1/40) of their income. During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim’s lunar calendar, all Muslims are required to fast during the daylight hours “as a method of spiritual self-purification.”(10) The final obligation for the Muslim who is physically and financially able is the make the pilgrimage to Makkah (or Mecca), which is known as the birthplace of Muhammad. In Mecca, there is a large black box in the center of the mosque which is known as the “Kaaba,” which is the “place of worship which God commanded the Prophets Abraham and his son, Ishmael, to build.”(11)
These are the six major beliefs and the five obligations which make up the basic philosophy of Islam. In short, the individual is never quite assured of his or her salvation for he is always in fear of the scales. The Muslim believes has two angels appointed to him to record his good deeds and his bad deeds. If the good deeds outweigh the bad then Allah is pleased and he will be able to enter into paradise. However, if the bad deeds outweigh the good, then he will be cast into an eternal hellfire separated from all that is good. This works-based system of salvation has spread rapidly throughout the world seemingly because of its outward appearance to “do good to others.”
The call for evangelism among Muslims has never been greater. Many parts of the world are enslaved to the system and diametrically opposed to the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which brings liberation from sin. The Muslim knows no such liberation as he lives in a constant fear of the scales. Pray that God may encourage the workers of his kingdom who work among Muslims in attempting to reach them with the gospel. Pray that he would be pleased to cause a burning hunger for truth within many who give blind allegiance to a god that they do not know and can not know personally.
Islam.com - Islam from an Islamic Persepctive
IslamWorld.com - Islam from an Islamic Persepctive
Go West Africa - an IMB website
(1) Dean C. Halverson, The Compact Guide to World Religions, ed Dean C. Halverson (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), p 104.
(2) I.A. Ibrahim, A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, Second Edition, (Houston, TX: Darussalam, 1997), p 45.
(3) Ibid. p 46
(4)Dean C. Halverson, The Compact Guide to World Religions, p 105
(5) Ibid, p 106.
(6) I.A. Ibrahim, A Brief Illustrated Guide, p 48.
(7) Ibid, p 48.
(8) Ibid, p 65.
(9) Ibid, p 66.
(10) Ibid, p 67.
(11) Ibid, p 67
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Another dead guys' prayer that breathes so much life for me...
"O Changeless God,
Under the conviction of thy Spirit I learn that the more I do, the worse I am,
The more I know, the less I know,
The more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,
The more I love, the more there is to love.
O wretched man that I am!
I have a wild heart, and cannot stand before thee;
I am like a bird before a man.
How little I love they truth and ways!
I neglect prayer,
By thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,
By knowing thou hast saved my soul.
Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not an evangelical hypocrite, who sins mores safely because grace abounds,
Who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them
Who for reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for he is saved,
Who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives unholily.
My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
With no spiritual understanding,
No desire for the Lord’s Day,
Ever learning but never reaching the truth,
Always at the gospel-well but never holding water.
My conscience is without conviction or contrition, with nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution.
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention, so I forget easily the lessons learned, and thy truths seep away.
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace."
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, ed Arthur Bennett, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2003), p 128-129
Monday, March 03, 2008
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isa 55:1)
It would appear as though a Catholic church in Croatia has taken these words of Isaiah and applied them not to Christ, but to their café. The church is attempting to reach the youth culture that has populated the area and the method they have employed is not uncommon to many western protestant churches. They chose to open a café that serves cappuccino, fruit juices, pastries, and other snacks hoping to draw more students back to the area following the local services. The best news…it’s all free…well, sort of.
The church has drafted a menu that does not require an actual exchange of dollar amounts (or whatever the applicable Croatian denomination may be), but all goods are based on the offerings of specific prayers. A standard cup of java will run you three "Our Fathers", but a Coca-Cola will require five "Hail Marys" plus an additional “Glory Be", “while a cappuccino ranks mid-way at four renditions of the Lord's Prayer.”
Now, although I would not agree entirely with the substance of the prayers, I can not fault this church’s ingenuity for encouraging its youth to memorize. Would it be better suited if the memory aid was based upon infallible Scripture such as the Isaiah passage mentioned above or any others? Of course. And judging from the menu prices it would appear as though Scripture is incorporated…you just have to order the cappuccino.
Read the whole thing
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Two weeks ago I wrote a brief little post that simply said “Intense: That is about all I can say right now.” Indeed, that was about all I could say at that point. Not often found for a loss of words when given the platform, the said juncture defied what I claim as normalcy. Since that point in time I believe that I have arrived at this new frame: Less Intense. [As a sidebar: just prior to writing that little post I completed my first exam in which I was given the tiny little task of handwriting the biblical story from creation to new creation (Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 for you non-biblical theology types ) in 49 minutes or less. You know that feeling that you have just after you vomit anything and everything that your body says is needed or not needed? Well, now you begin to understand.]
I received several e-mails immediately following the aforementioned post (much to my surprise, I might add – who knew people read this thing!) Thus, for those who were concerned let me shed a little light into the time of my life that can most easily be described as “intense.”
Although I took a Jan-term course last month, my “official” entrance into seminary began a little more than four weeks ago. And from the word “go”, it has seemed to be an endless stream of reading, assignments, tests, more reading, planning, arguing, critical-thinking, more reading, and more reading. Just thinking about the sheer volume of the workload has been overwhelming to say the least – and that’s before I even get to work! All said, it has been a difficult time of transition over the past month and I am quite thankful that I can say that the month has now passed! In previous days I would have likely testified that as a result of my procrastination I have brought undue stress upon myself. Oh how I wish this were the case today! Unfortunately, the academic rigors of seminary life are not intended for the faint at heart or the procrastinator. I have really attempted to make wise use of my time and prioritize assignments by devoting more time to those that carry more weight, etc. However, given life’s circumstances this is simply not good enough and that causes my perfectionist personality to quiver. Yes, perfectionist AND a procrastinator – a lethal combination.
So, how do I get from “Intense” to “Less Intense?” Perspective. True, I have found some sort of a groove in which to glide, but the groove itself is more like a cheese grater, so it is not exactly comfortable. Thus, the Lord has been kind a gracious to me to bring back to mind that I must maintain perspective in my life. I can not put my marriage on hold for the next three to four years (or more should a PhD be in the future). I can not neglect all other forms of relationships outside of those whom I come into contact with in the library. I still need to eat – even though one class assignment included a 48-hour fast. I still need to exercise and maintain my physical health – which again, a class assignment will require me to run 5k (can you believe this!). All said, our Father has caused me to understand that if I am too busy “preparing for ministry” to the point that I have no ministry – particularly in the life of my wife – then I have missed the point altogether.
So, where does this leave me? It leaves me at a point where I have decided that I need to be content with something less than straight A’s. God has called me to ministry and I have an obligation to be a good steward of all that he sets before me. Therefore, A’s may not be what is best for my life. My perfectionism does not like this – in fact, it’s killing me - but it is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of necessity. I need to understand that I have limitations and time constraints that will mean that I may not be able to read everything or put forth the amount of work required for the best grades. Does this mean that I am not taking seriously my call to ministry and thus a call to prepare? No. But what it does mean is that I am attempting to have a holistic view of life which does not relegate my educational aspect of my calling to its own dimension. My wife must be a part of my education which must be a part of my work which must be a part of me paying bills and mowing the lawn. In other words, life is that – life. It is all interconnected and therefore I would do well to merge all of its parts into one amalgam so that neither part is neglected or malnourished.
Life is still intense, but that little “less” makes it seem all the more worthwhile.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Guy Davies has recently interviewed Carl Trueman. When asked "What, in your estimation are some of the strengths and weaknesses of blogging as a medium for theological reflection?" Trueman promptly responds:
Few strengths. It's all too anarchic. I think fun and information sharing are the best it can do. Weaknesses: feeds narcissism; allows any old nutcase to present themselves as a serious player in theological and ecclesiastical discussion.I think he may be on to something. I may be that nutcase…
Read the entire interview here or check out Trueman’s writing here.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
For those who have endured through Grudem's Systematic Theology this will make perfect sense. For those who haven't, but have seen Grease then at least you'll know the tune...
Why this man is thematic, he’s charismatic, he’s systematic,
Why he’s Wayne Grudem! (Wayne Grudem)
He did not author Scripture but provides a clearer picture - Oh Yeah!
(Keep reading whoa keep reading)
Wayne may not be Jesus but he writes mean exegesis- Oh Yeah!
(I’ll buy a copy, I’ll kill to buy a copy)
You put it on the flo-or and it props open your door,
Or if you need to sit- you can climb on top of it - With Wayne Grudem
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go
Go Wayne Grudem with your intellectual writing style,
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
Go Wayne Grudem you make ha-rd doctrines less of a trial
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
You are extreme, but God’s supreme, oh Wayne Grudem
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go
(There are) many heresies which we-e now clearly see- Oh yeah!
Despite him being bald, hundred-thousand copies sold - Oh yeah!
His six appendice-es leave you praying on your knees.
Although he’s not inerrant he’s a heresy deterrent - Wayne Grudem
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go
[Monologue: “He was once a research professor of Bible and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. But is now research professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona. He holds degrees from Harvard (BA), Westminster Theological Seminary (MDiv), and Cambridge (PhD).]
HT: Said at Southern
Friday, February 15, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Many have referred to Judaism as one of the world’s oldest religions that is still in practice today. This line of thought stems from the idea that the Judaism practiced over the previous twenty centuries is the same as that which was practiced in the Biblical Old Testament times. However, upon closer examination, we can see that what is commonly referred to today as “Judaism” finds its beginnings around 200 B.C.(1) Distinctly different from Christianity by virtue of the respective positions on original sin, salvation, and most specifically the deity of Jesus Christ, modern Judaism may be classified in three major branches known as Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform but the basic philosophy is shared by all three.
AW Tozer has written that “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us”(2) and indeed this statement proves true when examining the basic philosophy of Judaism. For the Biblical Christian, God is presented as an infinitely holy(3) and personal God(4) whose justified wrath(5) falls on condemned sinners who are lost in their state of sinfulness(6) unless drawn out of such state by the gracious act of God to reveal Himself to them(7) so that they might enjoy eternal fellowship(8) with Him by way of the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ,(9) to redeem them from their state of sinfulness and restore them to a right relationship with God the Father(10). However, the basic philosophy of Judaism does not present God or man in this same light.
“Judaism rejects the doctrine of original sin, saying that sin is an act, not a state. Thus, man has the ability to live according to the Law. If he fails, he only needs to come to God in repentance. With this view of sin, Judaism has eliminated the need for a Saviour.”(11)Thus, although Judaism may have a reverence for the God of their making, He is not the infinitely holy God of the Bible whose wrath must be satisfied. For the Jewish people, it is not so much a requirement that the wrath of God be satisfied, but rather and adherence to the 613 commands found within the Torah that will fit them for a healthy lifestyle. “Jewish believers are able to sanctify their lives and draw closer to God by keeping the mitzvoth (divine commandments).”(12) This belief, however, is not mere legalism, but is in fact the basic philosophy of Judaism: that the whole of life must be holy and the way to do so is by observing the commands.
The Jewish people also observe a cycle of holidays that they observe each year that help to define their “Jewishness.” Many of these holidays are derived from the Old Testament Scriptures such as the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), Feast of Tabernacles (sukkos), and Passover.(13) It will depend upon the individual’s adherence to the particular branch of Judaism as to what extent these holidays are observed. Unfortunately, too many adherents to Judaism miss the great significance of the holidays which, in the Old Testament, pointed to the future coming Messiah and that all things would be filled in Him. Many Jewish people will object to becoming a Christian not so much out of a doctrinal conviction but because they feel as though “they will cease to be Jewish if they believe in Jesus and that becoming a Christian means turning one’s back on one’s people, history, and heritage.”(14) This is the essence of the basic Jewish philosophy. Being Jewish has little to do with an understanding of doctrinal principles, a confession, or a statement of faith, but for most it is an ethic, simply a way of life.
(1) Richard Robinson, The Compact Guide to World Religions, ed Dean C. Halverson (Bloomington, IN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), p 122. The author adds, “It is best, however, to use the term “Judaism” to refer to the religion of the rabbis that developed from about 200 B.C. onward and crystallized following the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. In this way Christianity is not described as a daughter religion of Judaism, but more correctly as a sister: both branched out from the Old Testament faith.
(2) AW Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1961), p. 1
(3) Lev 19:2
(4) God is seen as clearly personal through His active involvement in the Creation process in Genesis 1 (not through an impersonal, hands-off approach proffered by the evolutionist), and a myriad of times throughout the Bible where God is shown to speak directly with His people and to offer aid through sovereign intervention in their time of need (see for reference Gen 3:21, 22:8, 12-14, 50:20; Ex 19:4, 20:1-2; 1 Chron 29:10-19; Dan 3:8-30, etc).
(5) God’s wrath is justified because of His infinite Holiness. Since sin is anything that is contrary to the character of God, our sin is in direct opposition to Him as the Scriptures assert “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds…” (Col 1:21).
(6) The Bible is consistent in its declaration that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23, see also Gen 6:5-6, 8:21; 1 Kin 8:46; Psa 51:5; Is 53:6; Eph 2:1-3; Col 1:21-22, 2:13-14; 1 Joh 1:8, 10. The doctrine of original sin is specifically opposed in the basic philosophy of Judaism.
(7) John 6:44 is one of the clearest representations of this idea: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
(8) John 17:3 defines “eternal life” for us: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Thus, the emphasis for eternal life is that we might know the “one and only true God” and to enjoy Him forever. The Westminster Confession declares that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
(9) Many passages throughout the Scriptures refer to Messiah as the ultimate sacrifice to pay the due penalty for sin. See for reference specifically Isa 53; and the testimony of John the Baptist who declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Joh 1:29).
(10) Especially in the Pauline epistles, man is represented as at enmity with God, hostile towards Him, but the joyous truth prevails that “He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him…” (Col 1:22) and later, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14). This reconciliation made possible through Jesus Christ is what translates to the “peace of Christ” as dictated in Col 3:15.
(11) Kenneth Boa, Cults, World Religions and the Occult: What They Teach. How to Respond to Them (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 1990), p. 79.
(12) Mark Waters, ed Encyclopedia of World Religions, Cults, and the Occult (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2006), p. 337.
(13) See chart of Jewish Holidays in Richard Robinson, The Compact Guide to World Religions, ed Dean C. Halverson (Bloomington, IN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), pp 128-129.
(14) Richard Robinson, The Compact Guide to World Religions, ed Dean C. Halverson (Bloomington, IN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), p 131
Friday, January 18, 2008
In The BookStore the other day I was confronted by a 3 foot tall trumpeter of theological truth.
“Can I get a new motion?!?! Can I get a new motion?? I want a new motion!!”
“A motion?” I said to myself. What could this kid possibly be requesting? I am not a parent, but I have come to understand that those who are who have this uncanny ability to decipher the hidden codes of their offspring. Call it a sixth sense, call it parental intuition, call it repetition, call it whatever. I call it weird. I decided I would do the spiritual thing and hide myself in my office from this booger as he whined his way through the store.
“Can I get a motion?!? I need a new motion?!?” He exclaimed again.
His handler eventually came to the young lad’s aid. “What do you mean, ‘a motion’” she asked. See, I’m not the only one who can’t understand child-speak.
“A motion,” he said, “one of these” as he pointed to the little 2-5 year old collections of devotions.
“Ohhh, a devotion” his elder retorted, sounding a bit relieved. I was too.
“Yeah, a motion.”
And then it hit me. This little herald had it, while I had it not. See, our devotions should always create a motion. Yes, we are called to diligently study the word of truth and to accurately divide it so that we may know what is good and pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. But if all we do is know then we have missed the point all together. I think I remember reading something that went a little like this:
“Be doers of the word” (James 1:22).
That sure sounds like a lot of motion to me. Devotion without motion is a potion for demotion. Or something like that…
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
In case you have not been privied, Dr. Albert Mohler has signed a two-book deal with Moody Publishers. His two books are to be released some time in 2009. This comes on the heels of his new book Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth which released January 15th. Unfortunatley, little Bookstores like ours have to wait awhile until our backorders come through the tube. So, we wait.
Below is the official press release from Moody concerning the next two books. The link may only work for the next week or so...
Moody Publishers signs Book Deal with President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers is pleased to announce a two-book contract with highly-esteemed Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. The first book is set to release Fall 2008, and will focus on preaching Christ in today’s postmodern culture. The second book will release in 2009 and the topic will be announced later in 2008.
Dave DeWit, Moody Publishers acquisitions editor, states, “We are grateful for this opportunity to partner with Dr. Mohler to provide these biblically-rich, practical resources which will equip the body of Christ for effective ministry. Dr. Mohler joins John MacArthur and others as a cornerstone author in our Church Life & Reference product line.”
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., is the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. Recognized by influential publications such as Time and Christianity Today as a leader among American evangelicals, Time.com called Dr. Mohler the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.” The host of a daily live nationwide radio program on the Salem Radio Network, he also writes a popular blog and a regular commentary on moral, cultural and theological issues (www.albertmohler.com). He is a frequent guest on national and international news outlets and is a popular preacher, teacher and lecturer.
Dr. Mohler is represented by the literary agency of Wolgemuth & Associates Inc. of Orlando, Florida which negotiated this deal.
Publicity Manager for
Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing
820 N. Lasalle, Chicago, IL 60610
Full release can be found here. I first learned of its release from a CBA Industry Brief, however, I was unsuccessful in locating it online.
If only Al would just call me to give me a heads up it would make things much easier. He must have lost my number...
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The day began like most other days back then. I rose early Saturday morning to the sound of, well - nothing. My two roommates were fast asleep in the comfort of their warm sleeping confines; it was too early and too cold for anyone to be consumed with yard work, and I found myself greeted with the warm sunshine coming through my front window. It was a little before 7:00 and I was aware that the warmth of the sunshine was only a guise, for it was likely no more than 40 degrees on the other side of that January window.
I delighted to wake early on the weekends, enjoy my cup (rather, cups) of java, spend time in the word, and simply enjoy the day even before it began. Somehow, life seems to make much more sense in the calm of the morning. Time seems slower, worries are a little more distant, and the freshness that welcomes us reminds us that His mercies are truly new every morning. When Kimberly and I were dating, we enjoyed capitalizing every waking moment of the day together. Therefore, early Saturday mornings, instead of me finding my way to the solitary comfort of my couch, we would rendezvous at a coffee shop, spend the morning reading together and enjoying the brew that was set before us.
This particular Saturday was no different and our agenda was set. When I arrived at our beloved O’Henry’s, I found Kimberly well engrossed in conversation with two older gentleman sitting at the table next to her. We exchanged pleasantries and then Kimberly and I retreated to another table with a little more room. With so much of the day set before us, I secretly wished that time would stand still. If for a moment, we could be lost in the essence of the succession of moments in order to laugh, converse, and live life together. It was always a thrill to run into older, wiser pilgrims who had traveled the path set before us. We would often glean a kernel of insight of experience through these encounters. This day proved to be the same, as the gentleman Kimberly and I were speaking with approached our table once again. The man the informed us of his son’s recent divorce that came as a a result of both husband and wife not focusing on the cross and seeking to honor the Lord in and above all things. I could sense the heartache that he had for his children, and by way of warning, this brother was telling these two kids to watch out, be on guard, and serve the Lord with all our hearts. It was indeed a prophetic moment. At least it was for me, Kimberly merely considered it to be an interesting interaction.
About 12:30 I spontaneously declared that we needed to leave. This was quite uncommon for me since I would likely find no qualm with wasting the entire day in our favorite coffee house, but this time, I had to go. When Kimberly asked what was the matter, I literally replied “I have to go!” Let me make sure you understand, I had “to go,” or so I told Kimberly. When confused as to why the current facilities were not worthy of my presence, I replied that this was an even number event and I needed more time to divide. (As a sidebar: our minds work in strange ways when we have an ulterior motive!) While driving down the road, I decided to call my friend Brian, who was to lead a devotion for 5th and 6th graders that morning, to “see how it went.” I was shocked to hear, “the eagle has landed, but the roommate is still home!” Oh what dreaded horror to my ears!! This eagle was now desperately endangered, quick, what do I do? “Turn here! Turn here! Turn here!” I exclaimed to Kimberly at the helm of her Honda. “I need to get some pink stuff.”
After purchasing a loaf of bread and the motherload of ice-cream I was able to create a diversion that lasted nearly twenty minutes. Pink stuff? Suddenly I was feeling better and thankfully, Kimberly was none the wiser. We meandered through the winding streets that led from that fateful Western Supermarket to her house with goods in tow. We pulled into the driveway and although I should have leaped out of the car with great joy for my eyes had seen the throne, I was calm and still. The next few moments were going to change the rest of my life forever. There are times when the providential events of our lives come to an incredible meeting place and after their crossing we are refused the chance to go back to normal. I am thankful for these crossroads and thankful of what awaited the other side of this street.
Kimberly stepped out of the car to find a mysterious plant figure growing out of her brick porch. She said “Did you put those there?” For the first time in the morning, I was to make one of the most honest statements that had come from my lips, “No, I did not put those there.” Indeed, this was the eagle which was to land thanks to our good friends Brian and Heather. The roommate had flown the coop as well and we found ourselves again in the stillness of the early afternoon. As she approached the vase to investigate the flowers she looked for the note to see who it came from (as though it really was not from me). Inside the note, Kimberly found a few little words that she had never heard me say, and apparently she did not have to audibly hear with her ears, for she knew exactly what it meant. The note simply read:
“I love you.”
I made it a point that I would not tell her all that was within my heart until this day finally dawned. “I really love being with you” was about as close as she or I ever came. After reading the note, she slowly turned back to me, not seeking an explanation, but in full knowledge of what was about to come. As I fell to one knee, I said, “I love you” and began to attempt to explain why. It has been three years since that day and I have still yet to come to an ability to express this truth. I gave her three things that Saturday afternoon: a Bible which all of our life and marriage is to be yielded in submission to, a ring to symbolize the eternal union of our bond together, and my name. I had given others a Bible and jewelry, but I had never given anyone else my name. I am still in awe that the woman I wake up to has the same name as me! I’m not sure why this amazes me the way in which is does, but in a way, it is a small reflection of the act of Christ. We have been called forth by His name (Acts 15:17), saved by His name (Acts 4:12), will bow at His name (Phil 2:10), and He has given us the name “Christians” because we are to be “Christ like ones” (Acts 11:26) and I desire to have her identified with my name with all the joy, privileges, and responsibilities that it brings.
January 15th, 2005 my life changed forever. It was 1:15 on 1/15 that the real she said “Yes.”
Kimberly, the Lord has granted more joy through you than in any other earthly relationship that I have ever formed. God is indeed a God of grace as your life is a testimony to such a profound truth. You love me with a love that is not human but divine. One that is not created, but inspired. I look to the future with a wondrous anticipation of what the Lord has in store for us. The “what” is not so much of my interest knowing that the “who” is you. When I proposed to you, I assured you that I would fail you, disappoint you, and cause you hurt and anguish. Unfortunately, this has proved true, but we are again reminded to fix our gaze on the one will never fail, disappoint, leave, nor forsake. We are to look to the Rock that is higher than I (Ps 61:2) to see His great deliverance, His great grace, and His great mercy which is indeed new every morning. Great is his faithfulness towards the children of man. I am abundantly thankful that in His great providence He has seen fit to grant me what I do not deserve. I prayed for you before I even knew your name and, thankfully, the Lord was pleased to give you my name instead.
I love you.
Happy 3-year Proposalversary.
**If you are confused as to the real she and the not-so-real she, click here
Thursday, January 10, 2008
“A Minister’s Prayer”
O My Lord,
Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
Or merely win the esteem and affections of people;
But do the work of grace in their hearts,
Call in thy elect,
Seal and edify the regenerate ones,
And command eternal blessings on their souls.
Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;
Water the hearts of those who hear thy Word,
That sees sown in weakness may be raised in power;
Cause me and those that hear me to behold thee here in the light of special faith,
And hereafter in the blaze of endless glory;
Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,
And help me to experience the power of dying love,
For thy blood is balm,
Thy presence bliss,
Thy smile heaven,
Thy cross the place where truth and mercy meet.
Look upon the doubts and discouragements of my ministry
And keep me from self-importance;
I beg pardon for my many sins,
omissions, infirmities, as a man, as a minister;
Command thy blessing on my weak, unworthy labours,
And on the message of salvation given;
Stay with thy people,
And may thy presence be their portion and mine.
When I preach to others let not my words be merely elegant and masterly,
My reasoning polished and refined,
My performance powerless and tasteless,
But may I exalt thee and humble sinners.
O Lord of power and grace,
All hearts are in thy hands,
All events at thy disposal,
Set the seal of thy almighty will upon my ministry.
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, ed Arthur Bennett, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2003), p 338-339
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I began reading this week, Recalling the Hope of Glory: A Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation by Allen P. Ross. As an act of providence, I had the desire to read this work by Dr. Ross when I first saw it last year, but alas, life occurred and I was prevented from doing so. This week, however, it is a required read for my Worship Leadership course at Beeson Divinity School. Dr. Ross, as professor at Beeson, has contributed greatly to the church’s understanding of worship through his influence on other staff and students. Now he has greatly contrbtured to the universal church’s understanding of worship throguh the publication of this work. If the first few chapters are any indiciation, the next 500 pages are going to challenge me to think biblically in regards to how God desires to be worshipped. Not in style or formate per se, but in spirit and in truth.
“Our attention to the Lord must not be an ordinary part of life; our worship of him should be the most momentous, urgent, and glorious activity in our lives.” (35)
“For worship to be as glorious as it should be, for it to lift people out of their mundane cares and fill them with adoration and praise, for it to be the life-changing and life-defining experience it was designed to be, it must be inspired by a vision so great and so glorious that what we call worship will be transformed from a routine gathering into a transcendent meeting with the living God. When that happens, then we will be caught up in our spirits to join the heavenly choirs of saints and angels who even now are gathered around the throne of God. Thereafter, our hearts and minds will be filled with the hope of glory so that we may truly love and serve the LORD in this life.” (39)
“It is the greatness of God that makes his grace so amazing; or to express it in terms of his grace, the way to God in the highest heaven is through the lowest contrition, for those of a contrite heart may know that God dwells with them, and they will dwell with him some day in the highest holy place.” (44)
---Dr. Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory: A Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation, (Grand rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2006)