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1.31.2008

denomination joke

From EVBC Pastor Bill Hartley...I got a big kick out of this...

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"

"Christian."

"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"

"Protestant."

"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"

"Baptist."

"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

1.29.2008

grudem on law, politics, & gov't, part 3 - a great question

I am currently taking a course with Dr. Wayne Grudem called "Biblical Theology of Law, Politics & Government." This is a series of posts with reactions and lessons from that class.

One of the most interesting questions in this class so far has come from reading Romans 13 and the Declaration of Independence. Read the following passages, check out the question, and then go ahead and post your response.

Romans 13:1-2
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
The Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The question, then, is this: Is the founding of our "Christian" nation actually built on disobedience to God's word? Why or why not?

Before I tell you what Dr. Grudem said, I'd love for you to weigh in.

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1.28.2008

grudem on law, politics, & gov't, part 2

I am currently taking a course with Dr. Wayne Grudem called "Biblical Theology of Law, Politics & Government." This is a series of posts with reactions and lessons from that class.

Romans 13 and the Purpose of Government
The clearest biblical text regarding the purpose of government is found in Romans 13:1-7 (Grudem is even having us memorize it).

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

What, according to this passage, is the purpose of civil government? Dr. Grudem gives the following comments:

1. God has appointed these rulers (v. 2)

2. They are a terror to bad conduct, meaning they are to restrain evil (v. 3)

3. They give praise (Gk. "approval, recognition") for doing what is good (v. 3). An example might be tax incentives for charitable donations or having children.

4. They serve God (v. 4)

5. They are doing good (v. 4)

6. They execute God's wrath on wrongdoers (v. 4)

The interesting thing about this passage is that it does not necessarily assume that the government will be one that people enjoy or appreciate all that much. Thus, there is a need to "be subject" (v. 1). There's no need to submit to a government you like--it only becomes submission when you have disagreements. At the time of Paul's writing, Nero was emperor in Rome. While it is likely that Romans was written prior to Nero's most heinous persecution of Christians, it is significant that Paul is giving these instructions in a situation that is probably difficult and tough to submit to. Nonetheless, God has purposes for the rulers he puts into power.

Okay, that's all for today...but stay tuned...I think you'll find the next discussion pretty interesting.

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1.23.2008

grudem on law, politics, & gov't, part 1

As mentioned in a previous post, I am currently taking a course with Dr. Wayne Grudem called "Biblical Theology of Law, Politics & Government." It is fascinating, especially with the Presidential election fast approaching.

In a series of posts, I intend to post some key lessons from particular classes, as well as some of my reactions and thoughts. For now, here are the books that we're reading:

John Grafton, The Declaration of Independence and Other Great Documents of America. This short book includes the Declaration, Constitution, and key speeches by Patrick Henry, James Madison, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and others. Takes me back to fifth grade social studies.


Gregory Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church. Boyd is an evangelical pastor in Minnesota (though he is an open theist) who takes a more pacifist position and believes that preaching the Gospel, not political involvement is the best way to reshape culture.


Tom Minnery, Why You Can't Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture. Minnery is Vice President of Public Policy for Focus on the Family. Thus, he is also evangelical but more politically conservative. This book and Boyd's are opposite sides of the same issue.



Gregg Jackson, Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies. Jackson is co-host of Pundit Review Radio and editor at PunditReview.com. He's very politically conservative.




Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. Wallis is also an evangelical that, like Boyd, takes a pacifist position in terms of Christian involvement with politics. This book and Jackson's tend to clash.

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1.21.2008

back from the men's retreat

Well, the prayers that I asked you to pray in the previous post were answered! We had a wonderful men's retreat--it was a refreshing time for all of us. Tim Maughan had some wonderful insights and exhortations from God's word. He challenged us with the radical grace of the Gospel (the idea that because of Jesus' death for us, God will never love us more or less than he does now), some basics on manhood, and with a call for running a race of endurance and finishing strong. The guys sang loud, enjoyed each other's company, and prayed with passion. It was a real treat to be part of it.

1.18.2008

off to the men's retreat

Well, today we leave for the EVBC Men's Retreat in Bison Ranch. If you think about us, please pray for these things:
  • that we would enjoy God's presence through his word, our worship of him, and through each other
  • that men would be challenged and encouraged and coached about how to effectively be spiritual leaders
  • that God would use this as a rallying point for men individually and for the future direction of the church
Thanks! I'll let you know how it went.

1.16.2008

peyton's priceless pep talk

This was sent by a friend...priceless.

And now, another priceless pep talk for Peyton Manning:

"Bummed about that loss? Wish you had another shot to knock off the undefeated Patriots? Understandable. But don't sweat it. You're still the reigning Super Bowl champ. Yeah, you know it. You're the man. But only for 20 more days. Then you're crap again. So live it up."

And now, another priceless pep talk for Peyton Manning:

"Throw another tipped pass that was intercepted in the red zone? Too bad. Here's what you need to do: Work on your accuracy. Maybe watch a game tape of Tom Brady for some tips. That guy went 26-for-28. He's awesome. Plus, watching him is easy on the eyes. Total dreamboat."

And now, another priceless pep talk for Peyton Manning:

"So I hear you're upset about losing at home in the divisional playoffs. Worried people are going to call you a choker again? Don't be. You played well. You just had a few bad breaks. And you were up against a buzz saw. That Billy Volek has never lost in the playoffs. He's a dynamo."

And now, another priceless pep talk for Peyton Manning:

"Worried that your coach might be retiring? Understandable. You've had success together. But don't sweat it. You call all of your plays at the line of scrimmage anyway. You could be coached by a gerbil."

And now, another priceless pep talk for Peyton Manning:

"Jealous of your brother? Wish you were him right now? Don't be. Remember growing up how your mom used to change his diapers? Let me let you in on a little secret: He's still wearing them. Yeah. You know it."

And now, another priceless pep talk for Peyton Manning:

"Disappointed that your season ended so soon? Understandable. One-and-done is a bummer. But remember that you have a Super Bowl ring. Your legacy is secure. So use your extra free time to film some more commercials. I think there's a mortuary in Bloomington you don't yet endorse."

1.14.2008

updates

Well, after almost a month of posting anything of relative significance, I'm back! I thought I'd take this post to give a number of updates on some things going on in my life, family, church, and ministry.

Personal
-I am back on a reading through the Bible in a year plan. This year I'm going to attempt the Discipleship Journal Book-at-a-Time Plan. I didn't make it last year, but I'm off to a good start. This year, I bought a fresh ESV Pew Bible with no markings. It's nice.

-I'm reading a number of good books right now, Humility (CJ Mahaney), Salvation Belongs to the Lord (John Frame), and In Christ Alone (Sinclair Ferguson). I'm reading chunks when I can and finding my heart refreshed by the most important things.

-Molly and I just finished the PF Chang's Half-Marathon for the second year. We finished in 2:15.39, which is almost five minutes faster than last year. I think it's my last race, since I can no longer think of a good reason to run more than six miles.

-My seminary work is going well and I'm almost finished with my most recent course, "Gospels and Acts" (I'm currently pursuing an M.A. from Reformed Theological Seminary). Also, I just started an elective course at Phoenix Seminary with Dr. Wayne Grudem called "Biblical Theology of Law, Politics, and Government." With Dr. Grudem's permission, I hope to post some of the notes from the course. At the least, I'll be posting my reactions in upcoming weeks.

-I am now using Google Reader to keep track of the different blogs I read. If you are a blog reader, you need this.

Family
-I'm spending time outside on our new backyard playground. A family member was extraordinarily gracious in giving us this for Christmas and Abby loves it.

-I'm taking a class at the gym with Abby called "Tornado Toddlers" where we play and sing and play with parachutes and legos and balls. It's a special time every week.

-We're all sharing the excitement about my sister-in-law's upcoming wedding to a wonderful guy. Emily and Mike are a delight to us and we're looking forward to their wedding this summer.

-Molly and I have had some great dates and good time together over the last few weeks. She is the most impressive person I know.

Church/Ministry
-This weekend is the EVBC Men's Retreat. I'm looking forward to it. There is still some space available to register here.

-I kicked off a weekly time with a handful of Gilbert leaders and will be investing in them for the next few months. I hope to regularly do this and am sure I will be blessed more than them.

-We're still praying that God would continue the work of grace that he's been doing in our church despite some of the pressures and difficulty we've faced over the last few months. I don't know exactly what the future holds, but I'm looking forward to it.

1.01.2008

happy 2008

Hard to believe that 2008 is upon us. May it be one that God blesses for you with a strong sense of his presence, with the ability to run the race of faith with endurance, and with the Christlike love that can change even the hardest people you know. Happy new year.