Thursday, September 30, 2004

Presidential Debates

The debates verdict - no big over turn.

The Kerry's strongest point was bringing up nuclear proliferation. Bush seemed to agree with Kerry, lost the initiative for a while. Kerry's weakest point was that he did not flip flop. Declaring it so does not make it so. Probably the most ridiculous statements coming from Kerry's mouth were coalition, coalition, coalition.....well, Honorable Mr. Kerry neither you not President Bush control other country's policy and passion. Coalitions are something that may or may not work out. Oh by the way, I checked out the Kerry plan in Iraq. It is a "I can do the same things your are doing but make them central to my campaign." Kerry policy in Iraq is saying pretty much the same things that are being done now.

Bush's strongest point was clearly stating his policies and sticking to his guns. He handled the "character assassination" question rather well. He made some light hearted remarks about Kerry's Yale alumni status. He was at his worst when he smirked and frowned. Smile a little. Bush made some good points by talking about the "same intelligence" was available to both of them. He made sure that he did not appear to have exclusive or executive privilege. Instead it is a matter of how do you use that intelligence. He also did well by using foreign leader names. It showed competence in that arena. President Bush did okay.

Hannah's Prayer: 1 Samuel 2:1-10

I've been studying Hannah's prayer. At first I assumed it addressed issues of human competition and emotional disappointment. In reality it address the issue of God's transcendence in our human condition. Enjoy!

Hannah's Prayer

1 Samuel 2:1-10

I. Rejoicing In God (verses 1-3)
A. Exalting In God (1)

B. No Comparison To God (2)

C. Boasting Contrasted With God's Righteous judgment (3)

II. God Gives Us abundance And Need (verses 4-8a)

A. Reversals Of Human Fortune (4 - 5)

B. God Gives Abundance And The Grace Of Need (6 - 8a)

III. God Keeps His Saints (verses 8b-10)

A. He Who Established This World Keeps His Saints (8b - 9a)

B. Human Strength; Messiah's Strength (9b - 10)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I'm Rerun

Rerun
You are Rerun!


Which Peanuts Character are You?
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Extraordinarily Extreme

I've decided to use the unofficial name for the "League Of Reformed Bloggers". That is, we all know, "The League Of Extraordinary Reformed Bloggers". This group is not to be confused with "The League Of Extraordinary Extreme Reformed Bloggers". Those gals and guys are too TR to be grouped with us.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

RSS Feed

I've added an RSS feed so that I can take part of the League Of Reformed Bloggers. I love the name but I feel like I am becoming a part of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Of course neither league is for men alone if you are following one or both.

Biblical Archaeology

Today I met a man named Kevin. He was curious about me reading a book on Biblical Archaeology. He asked if that is what I do for a living. That would be a cool job but that is not my current profession. We discussed several things; his work, his religious experiences, and my thoughts on several difficulties in scripture. One of the things that he asked about was if archaeology proved the Bible. I've read several books that use this approach of the relevance of archaeology. The book I'm reading by Alfred J. Hoerth takes another approach, that archaeology helps to illustrate the context of those who lived in Bible times. By that, we understand their housing, laws, politics, security, and other issues. It was a good discussion. It was good to talk to Kevin.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Education -- Why?

I had a good discussion with some people at work today about the role of education in our lives. One point of view was that education was something that helped us be productive. When pushed to consider issues like the role of art or even art history in education, the functionality becomes more obscure. The consensus of the group was that there should be functionality, however, we might not be able to discern it. While utility and functionality are a part of those equations, there are other reasons for education other than for usefulness. Do we worship God because it is useful or because he is worthy? While there are benefits to worshipping, those are secondary. A good education must include aspects of worshipping God to be truly well rounded.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Mercy

Joseph was both confrontational and merciful with his brothers when the found him in Egypt. They had sent him into slavery. He now was the second most powerful man in Egypt and could have ultimately done as he wished had he been adversarial. He did test to see if their hearts had changed. We never can know the heart of someone else but we can draw their thoughts and feelings out through our actions and words. He also showed favortism to Benjamin to see if they were jealous and he threatened Benjamins life to see if they would let evil fall on him. They had repented and were sorrowful for what they had done to Joseph and to their father. Even when we need to confront someone, we need to ultimately have a loving and kind stance. The best way to confront is usually to draw the issue out of the person rather than push it down their throat.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Walking

I went for a walk today. The weather had the after effects of Ivan blowing through the area. The air was refreshing. While doing a Google search for chess clubs in my town I found a Baltimore Sun article on a business that makes warrior figures for some sort of fantesy game. I was surprised to find a factory in my town that I had not heard of it. I looked at the Verizon website for its location, 6721 Baymeadow Drive Glen Burnie, MD 21060-6401. The Verizon map showed it just .6 miles from my house. "Strange," I thought, "with it that close I would have surely walked by it sometime." I went searching for it where Verizon said it was, no luck. I later found out it was in a business park which makes more sense than in a residential neighborhood. I often find mistakes in maps. I think it really shows navigation skills when one can look at the map and figure out, that is not right. Of course new streets, changing roads, new buildings and a host of other things make a map incorrect. When we go through life people look at the Bible sort of like a map. But in reality it is just the opposite. When we come up to a location and we don't happen to find what is written on the map, perhaps the map is wrong. When we deal with issues in our life and we are not finding the answers we are looking for in scripture, it is not the same. God gives a transcending revelation through His Son and in His Word the Bible. We may not be reading the Bible right or we might be putting to much emphasis on our own particulars.

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Linux Model Used To "Do Theology"

I find programmers to be some of the most philosophical people in our society. They can afford to talk about the hypothetical and then create it. The rules of logic and the tools they use will create what they envision. One of the philosophers of the Open Source software movement is Linus Torvald. He has headed up the project of Linux. Linux is a computer operating system (OS) which has been developed by anyone who can write code and shows his/her work is quality enough to be included in the OS. A person with a Ph.D. in computer science might get the code included or an high school student might too. It depends on the merits of the work. The Linux project is highly successful. So are many other projects which similarly use the volunteer-merit based creativity. Wikipedia is another project which uses volunteers and the merits of their work is the merits of its inclusion. I have noticed that some Christian websites are attempting to use the same model but only partially. Before software code is included in Linux the merit of the programming is evaluated. Some of the websites advocating a similar model for examining the Christian faith basically adheres to the egalitarian (level playing field) mentality, but they lack the merit based system. Instead of gaining a high quality of teaching and understanding of the scriptures, they achieve shared ignorance. Basic to the Linux model is competence. The scripture does not teach us to have a grand hierarchy in the church, pastors are to be honored for their work but not for their position alone. The preisthood of the saints is basic to the Christian faith, we are can approach God through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. This egalitarian nature of the Christian faith does not mean that one opinion is as good as another. Instead it means that we need to read the scriptures realizing that we are accountable to each other and to God to believe it and living up to it.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Student of Theology

Recently Joe Missionary had someone say that he was Joe Missionary, not Tom Theologian. Joe took issue with that. I have to say that I want all our missionaries to be theologians at some level. Joe pointed out that all Christians need to be theologicans at some level. Not to take issue with Joe at all, but just to talk about the phrase "doing theology". Not to be the language police but I think "doing theology" somewhat implies that theology is something that originates with us. We do it. In reality, Christian theology is the study of the Bible and then ensuring that we are consistent in how we interprets it. The way that is done is to ensure our definitions are clear and accurate. Then we make sure we are consistent and logical in our teaching of scripture. Revelation in the Bible did not originate with us. Theology is something we study, not something we create.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Sixth Means of Taking In The Scripture

My mother felt that band was a good activity for my bother, sister and I. My brother and sister played trumpet and I played saxophone. I really had below average ability in music. I did not really have a talent for it, never the less, I was encouraged to take up the instrument of my choice. Eventually I did learn to read music and could sight read a new piece fairly well. During my junior high years I took up singing in the church choir. I did not really match pitch well and had trouble carrying a tune. But with the patient work of our choir director and standing next to some really good bass singers at church camp. Eventually I could sing well in a four part harmony choir. I joined jazz band, sitting last chair. I was in marching band, had some good band trips to St. Louis, Springfield, Flat River, Chicago, and Fulton. I think Chicago was our only out of state trip. By sticking to it, I eventually gained some music competency. My senior year in high school I had gone from below average to a fairly good musician.

My music experience was one where I was one of the stronger musicians because I read music well. I could sight read a piece of music and read the bass line or the melody. Somehow it has all changed for me. The music situations that I have contact with are people who play by ear or people play praise music from chords. My years of playing saxophone have little to no use since I can't play by ear. Even if I did, I don't transpose either. In a sense all my musical competencies no longer have value. I would like to do more, but I just don't have much opportunity to exercise my gifts any more. I would like to get back in to music. I'm just not sure how.

What really compels me to get back into music is that music is such a big part of scriptural worship. It is not just another option. Music is the Pentateuch, Old Testament Histories, Psalms, Prophets. Music is in the Gospels, the Letters, and Revelation. The Navigators teach that there are five ways to take in scripture: reading, listening, studying, memorizing and meditation. I believe there is another way to experience the scriptures and that is through music. How do I put my theology into practice?

Monday, September 13, 2004

What Type Of Art Am I?

Monet Sailboats
Impressionist! Monet, Manet, Cezanne, oh my! You
appreciate light and color, and you feel a need
to express yourself and the world around you
very vividly yet individually. You are like no
one else!


WHAT TYPE OF ART ARE YOU?
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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Programmers Day

In celebration of Programmers Day, I've decided to post on Bible software.

Reuben Gomez has a blog on which he reviews Bible Software, Bible Software Review Weblog. He seems to be more academically minded and less popular minded but his website and his blog have useful and interesting information.

By the way, the Bible software that I have used are Online Bible and Sword. Sword is my current package I use. My Windows version works fine. My Linux version is having problems. I probably need to down load the most recent version.

For the uninitiated Bible software has two things that it can do for you. The first is a place to record your thoughts on passages in a very systematic fashion. This feature is the most important and yet least advertised. It is almost always buried as write your own commentary. Of course most of us are not writing our own commentary but writing notes. The second feature is to automate using reference material. Reference material comes in the form of cross reference lists, dictionaries, comparison of various translations, concordance and commentaries. Most people who study the Bible can only afford to buy a few of these, and then only afford the time to look at a couple of these resources. Bible software really speeds up the process of finding the information in the reference works and allows the student to spend their time contemplating the meaning of the text and less time flipping pages. If you have not tried to any Bible software to prepare sermons, Bible lessons or simply study the Word, I encourage you to try one of the free versions.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Latest Trends In Blogging

It seems blogging trends for the most part are about increasing traffic, or to think of it more selflessly, about being more user friendly for your readers. There is a lot of good advice in the following article entitled Promoting Your Blog. I have already implemented a couple of changes of late in order to make my site more user friendly.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Emerging Church

I got my paper on the Emerging Church back from my seminary. I enjoyed reading on the topic. I had mixed feeling about publishing it on the Internet because I felt some would see it as aggressive. Having backed off the topic for a couple of months I feel a little safer in putting it out on the web. Backing off the topic for a couple of months has also allowed me to formulate my stance on the movement. Basically, where I've come to is that the movement is too broad for someone to take a stand for or against it. I'm sure there are those who would be more comfortable with a statement for or against, but I really think that is not possible unless one is not willing to really deal with the issues. If you are interested in my paper, check it out. It is called A Story About An Emerging Future.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Listening To Those From The Past

Dead language implies the idea that the study of the language is not relevant, not functional. It makes me think about a trip my wife and I took to Oxford with our daughters in tow. The museum at Oxford talked about how one can explore both the past and the future. The past is explored through history. The future is explored through the imagination. As we look at languages from civilizations past, we receive their messages, whether they were intended for us or not. We get to know their thoughts, their style of communicating and their world. We don't know it absolutely, but we do gain an understanding. Many in our post-modern generation generation look at the Bible as written by a long gone culture with no relevance. Those who will put the effort to learn Biblical languages will reap rewards. Its worth the effort.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Table Of Nations

In Genesis there is a table of nations. It explains the nations that came from Shem, Ham and Japheth. Ham occupied the western and southern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, what is modern day Palestine and north-east Africa. Shem occupied Babylonia and the Arabian Peninsula. Japheth occupied Asia Minor, the Caucus Mountain region and the European coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea. I started thinking about what is the application of this information in my own life. On the surface, it seems like just a lot of geographic and ethnographic information. But as I thought about it prayerfully I realized that I could flip page or two and there would be Abram being promised that all nations of the earth would be blessed through him. Perhaps as modern readers we might be tempted to think too small when we see God's promise of blessing all nations through the Abrahamic covenant. Perhaps we might think Abram and Moses really did not understand the complexities of various people groups, but if you read this passage, all peoples is a wide range of peoples. I don't think it is intended to be an exhaustive list, but a list of the relevant people that the children of Israel would have been exposed to at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis. The peoples named are all within about a 1500 mile distance from the Palestine region. Most detailed listing of people groups are those in Canaan and Egypt, the places they knew the best. I wonder if when we think of missions, if each person would make their own table of nations, what countries and people groups each person would come up with if they had to list every people group they had some sort of personal contact with. For instance, I have taken Arabic classes and so on my list would be Arabic speaking countries like Egypt and Lebanon. I know several people from Mexico because of the missionaries from our church who are serving there. I wonder how the various lists would compare when people in an average church compared their personal table of nations.

Here is my own personal table of nations:

Egypt
Lebanon
Kuwait
Saudi Arabia
Qatar
Yemen
Iraq
Turkey
South Korea
Mexico
Colombia
India
Pakistan
Vietnam
Japan
Philippines
Australia
South Africa
Kenya
Germany
England
The Netherlands
Italy
Spain
U.S.
Canada

I defined my list by people I have personally met from the country.

But then I started thinking about the various people I know through blogging my table of nations from blogging is pretty international too.

If others want to post their own table of nations I would be interested to read other people's postings too.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Chess Artist: Book Review

My good friend the Jollyblogger challenged me to a game of chess a few months back. He really showed strength in the game. Needless to say, I did not win. Later he used chess as an illustration in a blog posting talking about how the evangelicals in the 80's tried to play an end game at the beginning. I have tried to get my arms around chess beyond the moves of the game and up till now have failed. The Jollyblogger used chess as an illustration helped me find a clue as to how to go to the next level in the game. The Jollyblogger next mentioned in passing the movie, "Finding Bobby Fischer". So the past few months I have been investigating chess. I watched "Finding Bobby Fischer" and read the book "The Chess Artist" by J. C. Hallman. Both the movie and the book addressed the human elements of chess and focused less on the rules of the game. I'm from the Ozarks and the best way to learn something is to find a story teller. While I've tried to go to the next level in chess several times, I really think this book has helped me at least understand where the next level is at.

WARNING: There are some off color things in the book so, parents be warned before you assign this to your high schooler to read. I would say for the most part it is not a book about off color topics, but there are some paragraphs that are not appropriate.

The book is about two friends. Glen is Hallman's friend from his job. Glen is obsessed with chess and is a master. They spend their break hours playing chess. The story of their friendship is about a tension between the two and about the commonality between the two and about the mutual respect they have. Hallman's tension with Glen reminds me of childhood friendships. I'm not sure if Hallman is more honest than the rest of us about his friendship with Glen or if his friendship is a little more turbulent than most grownup relationships. There are dozens of other friendships in the book, most built on an interest in the game of chess. Glen has instant friendships with other chess players. Many of his friendships are via the internet at the Internet Chess Club (ICC) website. By the way, I've played less than a dozen games there since I started reading the book. Glen plays a Mongolian chess master on the ICC site and later plays her in person. Both Glen and Hallman make friends at tournaments. They get to know people, strangely enough through competition. I for one like to avoid competition, but once I get into it I often go too far. But maybe there is something to be said about finding mutual respect between two people because they have tested one another's strengths.

The history of the game is interestingly woven through the book. Hallman talks quite a bit about Arabic word origins in such a way that it makes me wonder his linguistic background. Having studied Arabic myself, I was amazed to find out that Checkmate may have come from the Arabic Shek Mat, King dead. He also talks about the history of the game from a developmental of the game. Hallman has a chapter on each piece; pawn, bishop, etc... Interesting.

This is a travel, boondoggle book. Hallman and Glen take a trip to a chess tournament, an art museum, a prison, and to a small republic in Russia. Hallman goes to lengths to persuade hosts that he is a writer. He often feels guilty about trying to get people to let him investigate chess in their atmosphere. I love travel books, not reviews of hotels and site seeing places, but books about a good road trip. This is a road trip book. Good read.

Old Testament Projects

There were not enough students to make a class for Old Testament. I'm the only one doing Old Testament I and so the seminary offered to let me do it as independent study. That means I have to do some projects which make up for the lack of class time. Here are some projects I'm considering. If anyone has advise as to which of these they think I should do, I would appreciate your input.

1. Purchase the lectures from ITS on the Pentateuch. Laird Harris from Covenant Seminary is the lecturer. Listen to these.

2. Translate 1 or 2 chapters apiece from the six books of the OT covered by the course.

3. Write a paper about a contemporary issue on the Pentateuch. I've done papers in the past on JEDP and I have read all I care to on the creation story. (I'm a six day , 24 hour day, creationist who does not want to be too narrow with others who may differ and yet keep the integrity of scripture in tact.) I'm not sure of any contemporary issue which is relevant. So this is a little problematic and I would have to find a research library if I did not pick a topic that had a lot of material on the Internet.

4. Write a Pentateuch curriculum for an Officer Training class. My idea is to use PowerPoint slides, and an intensive use of the notes feature. It would be 15 lessons covering the topic at the Continuing Adult Education level.

I'm thinking of picking two of these. Again any suggestions as to which of these are best, I would appreciate the input.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I hated to give up the cool Olympic table which I used from the Athens Olympics Games Blog a group of Australian Christian bloggers. They had a nice Olympic site going. They claimed they were a part of the Emergent Church. Having been introduced to the term "Emergent Church" just this year, I have to say that I have gone through a whole spectrum of ideas and positions. Some revel in being a different church. Others simply ARE a different sort of church. I don't have a problem with church with different settings and different music. I've decided that the term is applied to churches which are orthodox and those which think orthodox is something to be avoided. If emergent means simply working together as a body, I'm all for it. If it means I want to develop strange doctrinal statements to show how original I can be, I'll have to avoid it. I'm going to be open minded until someone indicates that they have drifted from the scriptural teaching. Messy Christian just came out and said she that "her church" is an emergent church. Hooray, she is in fellowship.


I added my favorite Bible verse in its place. I encourage other Christian bloggers to post a favorite verse. That would probably tell me more about you than if you are born under the sign of Aris.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Sleeping At The Wheel

Certainly the Republican Convention and Bill Clinton's health are important news stories. I have to agree with Rebecca and J Mark Bertrand that the top news story of the day is the Russian hostage crises. It is especially sad due to the children involved, but I would like to address a slightly different issue. A lot of communication comes from the context from which one writes or speaks. Today we saw a lot of reports about Francis and the American political scene. It would seem that Francis is not quite here yet and the Republican Convention are just passed, so everyone knows that we need to ensure we have a story. Perhaps there are some mitigating circumstances to explain why there is/was not more on FOX news, and Google news. Perhaps the story could not be told because there was not enough reporters on the scene. Perhaps the Russian police are not as helpful to the members of the press as they are in other countries. Mitigating issues or not, there should have been a lot more coverage given the buzz on people's lips. There was no buzz about Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital nor a buzz about traffic jams on Florida Interstates. But the top story of interest by my co-workers was the Russian hostage crisis and the top story of interest to my family was the same. The media is missing it. This is not an issue of who got the scoop, but what is important. In the coverage of former President Clinton's hospital visit FOX news showed lots of clips of Clinton at political rallies, at book signings, and then of course since they could not show the story they were covering, pictures of his secret service protection unit's car. But the former President will likely be okay after surgery according to FOX news, I'm thinking the people in Russia are not. Our media and academic institutions are a part of our corperate knowledge and understanding of events. In reality, they are a part of our national defense because we as a nation understand threats and strengths based on their reporting. If they can not get the news story right today, how can they get other stories right? Are we a sleep at the wheel?

Identity

In my recent posting using the poem template "Where I'm From" I started thinking about influences in my own life. Some people who did similar posts talked about pop culture as very important as a point of origin. As a teen I lived and worked on a farm, pop culture was not big in my life. In the 80's my wife and I did not have a television, the closest thing to pop culture was our pseudo pop culture of the Christian music. Pop culture images and content were NOT very important. Pop culture is a part of a shared experience for a lot of people. Shared experiences help define a person; playing in a band, playing a sport or attending a concert. I think the books we read define us as a person more than the movies we watch or the magazines we read. Music we listen to defines us, but often it is an outward sign of identity expressed to others.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

WOW Hits 2004 Video DVD

My wife bought me the WOW Hits 2004. I like music videos. I don't beleive 'the video killed the radio', but I do like music videos, and beside they are better to work out with. The best video on this is the Newsboys -- He Reigns. In it they show little of the artists faces, so perhaps to mean that they are giving the glory to God and not themselves. The beach pre-dawn darkness given in to a sun rise makes for a great video environment. The supporting cast of internationals who are beleivers from around the world giving praise to our God and King works also. I really enjoyed the music itself before I even saw the video. The up beat description of the praise from every nation, tribe and tongue is something that makes my heart sing with the boys. Next to the Newsboys is ZOEgirl. Hey, boys and then girls... Anyway, ZOEgirl also wins for its selection of environment. Costumes are styling but modest. My biggest disappointment is from Stacie Orrico. I'm not sure what she is doing there with her song Stuck. It seems to be a teen love song which did not work as a teen love song. Are we trying market diversity??????