Friday, December 30, 2005

New Web Page

On my web pages I have posted a paper I did on the canon of Scripture, called "The Christian Canon Was Authoritative From Its Inception. This was in part done to look in a scholarly way at the claims of Da Vinci Code.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wired News: Biggest Discoveries of 2005

Wired says that the Biggest News story in 2005 is that Katrina and Asian tsunami were caused by global warming. Did I miss something here? Seriously, I thought that the tsunami was caused by an earth quake below the ocean, not global warming. Katrina was a hurricane that I guess one could say was connected to global warming however, there have been large destructive hurricanes before global warming. Again, perhaps I missed the biggest discovery of the year.

Wired News: Biggest Discoveries of 2005: "1. It's getting hot in here: Thanks to the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, global warming can no longer be ignored. There's no doubt about it: Earth's climate is heating up. But is it part of the planet's natural climate cycle, or man-made? That's the question. More than 150 nations are willing to do something about it and propose to reduce greenhouse gases. But China and the United States, two of the heaviest-polluting nations, refuse to participate. What will it take to engage the United States -- the drowning of another major city?

Barna Trends for 2005

It seems all the news media has developed "Man of the Year" and summary stories at years end. Declarations of the best and worst abound. In truth, for most people the mediocre is what is experinced. (Okay, perhaps you do live a copy of Martha Stewart Living by your bed side and start each day by exercising your horse, then follow that up with a breakfast jelly made peaches you grew and picked yourself and homemade bread, but I just had coffee and oatmeal.) What is normal for a lot of people can be called a trend. Trends are not alway spectacular, but I think you can act on it if you desire to do so.

Welcome to The Barna Group!: "Barna Reviews Top Religious Trends of 2005

December 20,2005

Trends Related to Churches

Ignoring reporters’ questions about church growth figures by stating, “church attendance is grossly overrated as a measure of anything that is spiritually significant,” the researcher instead offered four factors that he described as “indicative of the reshaping of the church in the U.S.”" Click on the link to get to the rest...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Most People Don't Ask This Question

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

When I look at who God is, I have the God of the Bible identified. He is not a vague something transcendent, but he reveals himself through his mighty deeds of redemption and his Word. He reveals himself in his creation and his law. He reveals himself in his incarnation and in his governing of all history. We know that he is a Spirit from Jesus telling us that God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. He is without human limits of time-space, nor is he in a process of changing as a man. He wisdom and power are easily thought to be without limit, but his moral attributes are also without limit. He is everything that is good and right. It is popular in recent years to indict God for the evil in the world, but his mercy is extended and he awaits for our repentance.

Tales From Chambana: Christmas ling-a-ling

Tales From Chambana: Christmas ling-a-ling: "Christmas ling-a-ling"

This one of the links to the Christmas lights display of an Ohio engineer who has sychonized his lights with music. The good thing about this one is that you do NOT need Windows Media.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bookstore Adventure

My good friend the Jollyblogger and I went on an bookstore adventure today. I know for most people going to a bookstore is not an adventure, but neither of us is what you might call average. (Or perhaps we are easily amused. I'm not sure.) The bookstore is in Dallastown, PA which was a nice drive up I-83 north of Baltimore. One of by biggest complaints about Christian bookstores these days is that all they have is the mass media Christian market. Jolly says that most Christian bookstores do have some things that are suitable for study, that is the CD's which are good to listen to while you study. (Read that with a jovial tone, because it was not snarky in tone.) Hearts and Minds is a refreshingly different. They have substantive commentaries, theological works from a diverse points of view, and even a book or two on stainable agriculture. Byron and Beth Borger are knowledgeable about the books they sell. When I have asked for some suggestions, I did not get just one book, I got several choices. I actually had choices that mattered. I think I will be returning with my book loving wife in tow.

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 (

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 ( "The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005"

While the list may be an interesting review for those who are really keeping up with the Web 2.0, for the rest of us, it is a great way to catch up. I know I'm going to try out some of these cool services.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Blessing of Disunity

One of the common objections to Christianity that I hear often is that if Christianity is true, why are there so many churches? Of course church in this sense means denomination, or church tradition. There are some churches that will tell you they are not a part of any denomination, but still they are a part of a certain form of Christianity.
My first reaction to denominations is that I don't see them as such a bad thing. There are significant doctrinal issues that are emphasized and debated between denominations and that can get quite heated. Additionally, many churches frankly teach things that are against the teachings in Scripture. However, the differences between Bible-believing churches is usually not as much about doctrine as it is about the demographic that the church reaches. One church might reach the blue collar working class, while another reaches the white collar middle class. Some churches cater to an extended family. Other let one exist in an anonymous fashion. Some churches focus on music that shows musical achievement as an offering to God, other churches seek music that strikes an emotional chord. Some churches work to build a multi-ethnic community while others seek to be a safe haven for those of a certain ethnic heritage. In a sense this kind of division allows more people to participate in various types of churches than if there was one sanctioned denomination. In a sense, this organizational disunity allows for unity under a broader banner of belonging to Christ. If the only type of denomination we had was one for the educated, middle-class in America, then we might have organizational unity at the sacrifice of one swath of society being comfortable in church. It is better that there is the organizational disunity with the benefit of sensing brotherhood with believers from that church with the different sort of music down the street.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I don't even know who Jack Bauer is!

I'm once again following the Jolly Blogger, but I got the result he wanted. I think it is because I clicked that I liked Bach. Try that.

Jack Bauer
Jack Bauer

Which 24 Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What is the Bible for?

“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13 (ESV)
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
Q. 3 What do the scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what a man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

The Scripture is both intellectually cohesive in its teaching and practical in its application. I have been a part of churches that fled every doctrinal debate in favor of practical application but I have been in few churches that over emphasize the doctrine above application. However I have met some individuals who over emphasize the doctrine to the exclusion of its application. I think that is because America embraces a philosophy that is anti-intellectual.
On the other hand, while not common in my circles today, I have heard of people us the Bible as a charm, as a code book, as a diet book, and as a status symbol. None of these are the purpose of the Bible.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Seven Sevens Meme

Seven Sevens
Rebecca Writes had this meme on her blog. It is a list seven things in answer to each of seven questions. I like the number seven, that is how many are in my family; my five daughters, my wife and me.

1. Seven things to do before I die.
Take my family on a big vacation
Get ordained
See all my girls through college
Go to the Olympics - spectator only
Publish the ultimate Bible Geography Gazetteer on the web
Go to the land of the Bible (Take lots of pictures to put on that website)
Do another long bike ride

2.Seven things I cannot do.
Hear the difference in the sound of a short i and a short e.
Memorize correctly the words to songs.
Save myself from my sin.
Sense when I am hurting people's feelings.
Drive a semi.
Get myself organized.
Seem to get it right.

3. Seven things that attracted me to my wife.
She is an on fire Christian
She is spunky
Her beautiful hair
She has a wonderful smile
She is a people person
She is fun to be with
She is compassionate

4. Seven things I say most often.
“If you are going to wear a toaster on your head, you have to do it with confidence.”
“I would rather be lucky than good.”
“If only ...”
“WHAT IS GOING ON!” (Each word over articulated, really to declare mayhem is going on.)
“How do you think that went?”
“How could that have been improved?”
“But I could be wrong.”

5.Seven books (or series) I love.
The Bible
Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson
Bruchko by Bruce Olson
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
Modern Times by Paul Johnson
Rex Stout
Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins
6.Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time).
Back to the Future
Princess Bride (Of course)
Bourne Identity
You've Got Mail
Star Wars
Much Ado About Nothing
Taming of the Shrew

7. Seven people I want to join in, too.
Big Red 5
Grandmother of many
Writings of an Exceptional Being
Tally Times
Flying Horses 12

Sunday, November 27, 2005

By What Authority?

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16

“that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 1 John 1:3-4

Q. What rule hath god given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

This is the second question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The concern here is amazingly not put in terms of merely right doctrine, but really in terms of our joy in the Christian life. Joy that comes from the teachings of Scripture and how we are to live a godly life. Joy in knowing God. Sometimes evangelicals will say that they are not really concerned about doctrine, they just want to love Jesus. The Scriptures teach propositional truth that can be articulated as well as deal with issues of personal piety. These are not really things that can be dissected one from one another. I believe the anti-doctrine stand does have a point though. Doctrine can become a source of one-up-manship and pride. Doctrine can fool us into believing we are righteous through our knowledge. However, rather than leave off doctrine as an integral part of the faith, we need the proper place of doctrine with a warmth of love for God and for one's fellow man.

The church prior to the Reformation had developed a doctrine that said tradition was authoritative. In other words, the institutional church was to be obeyed as authoritative. If there was a conflict between what the institutional church said and what the Scriptures taught, they resolved it by saying the institutional church had the only authoritative interpretation of Scripture. The second question of the Catechism here is specifically addressing this issue of what is the authority for our lives. In Protestant circles, we don't deal with the authority of human institutions in contrast with Scripture, we do have something else. It is the authority of an individual who claims to be led by God. When people say they are led by God they usually mean on issues not addressed directly in Scripture. (But sometimes they mean how they are led to do something against the command of Scripture. Most of the time I have heard this, it has to do with leaving a spouse.) Back to the issues not addressed by Scripture, when a pastor tells his congregation that he feels led to have a new building program for the church, how do you argue against that? When someone says they feel led to take another job, what Scripture could you use to tell them they are wrong? In a sense, the argument becomes one of authority by the one sensing God's leading. In reaction to this kind of authoritative stance, some have developed a theology that we are free to do as we please as long as we do what Scripture commands. Not always, but it can be that the application of this principle of complete freedom to do as we please on issues other than those commanded in Scripture can lead one to see life's decisions as arbitrary. If arbitrary, then meaningless and without purpose. It means a life given to preferences instead of purpose and calling. When someone is suffering in a difficult ministry, is their consolation really that it was just a choice that they made on their own to serve God in this way and that God would have been just as pleased with them if they had chosen to be a building contractor or airlines pilot? The issue is not one merely of epistemology (how do we know) but one of resolve to stick to a calling. The issue is not one of merely fulfilling expressed duty, but one of meaning in fulfilling those duties. Some people see the transcendent things of life as merely illusion which help to satisfy a psychological need of the individual. For thinkers like this, instead of having a purpose, one merely has a perception of purpose. The meaning of one's life is what ever seems most helpful to you at the moment.

Instead of discussing how one is to sense the will of God on issues not addressed in Scripture, it would be more helpful to discuss a sense of calling in a person's life. Some of that sense will be subjective, but at the same time there are objective issues to be discussed. One can rightly discuss objectively if one's sense of calling are confirmed by one's ability and passions? Is it confirmed by the opinion of others? When we discuss a calling instead of the “will of God” we rightly placing the issue as emotional and volitional.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Small Talk

Just in time for those holiday parties, I have a poll on small talk. What do you find the most engaging topic of conversation at a party or other social function? The poll is off to the right on this page.

If I did not put your favorite topic on there, add an entry to the comments section of the poll.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Do we have a purpose?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:36 (ESV)

Question 1 from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.

This beginning point focuses on man's purpose. Without some transcendent purpose, we get the sense that this earth is just mechanics. We are but a machine. When the machine wears out, we dispose of it. The clergy who wrote the Westminster Shorter Catechism understood that to begin our theological journey we need to understand that purpose and meaning are central to message of scripture and central to man's needs.

While the question of what man's purpose is man central to the question, the proof text from Romans 11 is really much broader than the issue of man. Man is a part of all creation, and all creation is for the glory of God.

As a frame highlights the picture, we are to bring glory to our creator and king.

Each of us has a unique contribution to the mosaic of mankind. Our unique gifts, unique family, our unique historic period, and unique contributions are all a part of that glorifying God. We are a part of a much larger work of art. We fit in to that picture even when we don't sense. But we do want to sense it. How do we do that?

1.Look at God through his Word and prayer.
2.Understand the context into which God has placed you. This includes the time in history in which you and I live, and the location where you are and the web of relationships which you have to include family and friends.
3.Understand yourself, who you are.
4.Use your gifts to praise God.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Wired News: Negroponte: Laptop for Every Kid

If they can make this $100 laptop for those who are overseas, how about marketing it in the United States. Where is the website to put your advanced order? I think we could buy one for each child in our home, that would be five. Oh, wait, some are over 18, do they count? Anyway, I think this is a great idea and Christian releif agencies should get involved in making purchases where funds are not available otherwise.

Wired News: Negroponte: Laptop for Every Kid: "WN: One could argue that it's better to give them something that has more mainstream commercial appeal.

Negroponte: Now be careful there. Fifty percent of the servers on this planet are using either Linux or some kind of Unix derivative.... So 20 percent of the world's servers are already using what I would call perfectly mainstream software. And there are open-source approaches to it that are working just fine. It's not mainstream on the desktop, I'll admit, but we'll make it mainstream on the desktop. We'll push that over the edge."

Monday, November 14, 2005

JOLLYBLOGGER: Book Review - Revolution by George Barna

I enjoy reading Barna and others who "do the numbers" on Christianity. But I have to say this is an excellent review of Barna's book. I have not read the book, but still I recommend reading the Jollyblogger's review. The discussion goes beyond the one book and interacts with a broader section of Christianity just the pollsters.

JOLLYBLOGGER: Book Review - Revolution by George Barna: "Let me begin this review of George Barna's book Revolution with a few apologies. The first is that this post is so absurdly long that it hardly deserves to be called a blog post. If anyone makes it to the end of this post they deserve a medal. It is just that this book touched on a lot of issues for me, so this post is my personal way of working through a number of things. "

Friday, November 11, 2005

When Is It Time To Get Into A Theological Controversy??

Controversies - A dispute, especially a public one, between sides holding opposing views.

Using this definition, it is not a controversy if I am conflicted about a matter. But often I am not moved to investigate a matter or interprets a matter until I start to respond to some doctrine that is being spouted out there. So I am lazy until some Gadfly comes and knocks me out of my comfort zone. Perhaps others are more spiritual than I, but some of my seasons of doctrinal growth come from hearing a teaching that just does not seems right to me. Many years ago I was deployed in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. One Sunday I went to a Sunday School class at the Chapel on Eskan Village. The Chaplin was a good guy. When we got to Romans 2:22 "You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?" the Chaplin explained to the class that rob temples refers to Jewish people robbing pagan temples. I had memorized the passage in the KJV years before where it says "Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?" I disagreed with him on his explanation. He countered with a strong argument looking at the grammar. He pointed out the text we were using said "temples" not temple. I really had nothing to say. Though the verse was a minor one, I was driven to find out, how do your rightly interprets this verse. When I returned from the desert I asked my pastor about the passage. He just said that the passage was not major point of doctrine. One of the values of that church was to major on the major issues and minor on the minor issues. To this day I still hold this as a good guide for looking at issues. I started to pray that the Lord would teach me the scriptures. I thought I knew them but I could not come to a correct interpretation of this verse. When I moved to my next tour of duty I got involved with a home Bible study of a man named Bill. Bill had been a seminary student before joining the Army. We did not always agree on everything, and more often than not, when we did disagree he had an upper hand in the discussion. So be it, what I really learned from Bill was the art of exegesis. (Not that I have arrived in the discipline, but I started the journey.) I felt like God answered my prayer to teach me the scriptures. Unless I had been involved in this small controversy, I would not have prayed that God would open my eyes. So from an individual point of view, I think a controversy can "spur us on toward love and good deeds." Yes, I mean it motivates the individual. From a corporate point of view, there is a dynamic that can come from hearing other points of view. I am surprised how often when I think I have thought through an issue, others have covered ground in their thinking that I had not. As the scripture says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Pv 27:17 (ESV) A good friend of mine is constantly asking me what I think about this author, topic or trend. Often he has a point of view himself that he will share. As he does it pushes me to higher callings. (And sometimes I think I push him along too.) We are maturing together as a part of a community. We have a phrase that we talk about in our church at the ordination of an officer. "Do you promise to study the peace and purity of the church?" A controversy gives an opportunity to love the brethren and be gracious while doing the difficult job of being valiant for the truth. I tend to be a blunt person so when I do get involved in a discussion, I can be unloving. So balancing the peace and purity concept is helpful to me. One of the biggest problems I see with controversies is that people often come to the conclusion that there is no answer. I think often times we become valiant for not being on one side or the other. So much so that we are valiant only for the concept of evangelical unity. Major on the majors and minor on the minors becomes a way of taking no stand. When a heated discussion becomes emotional and personal, many people can only hear the heat of the emotion and not the issues being discussed. If you sense the issue is emotional intensity (i.e. hate, anger, rivalry) and not the doctrinal issue, it is definitely time to back down for a moment to let things cool off. Re-engage with a cooler head. I believe the solution for this is a cordial engagement of the issues in a theological or ecclesiastical controversy. 1. No name calling or character assassination. Often on side or the other will create a name for the other side. This often backfires too. As the sides become defined by terms, it becomes an us versus them debate and the issues gets sidelined.

2. Assume your opponent has the best intentions at heart. We do have to be careful with this one but if we start there, we are less like to resort to name calling and character assassination.

3. Listen. (What can I say?)

4. When your restate what your opponent is saying, be sure that you do so in such a way that they would agree with how you have stated their position.

5. Be patient knowing that sometimes these things take time to gel. Don't expect to resolve a theological conflict when we see in history that it sometimes takes centuries.

6. Dialogue with the opposition, don't diatribe against them.

There are other times to disengage from a controversy.

1. When it is a trivial matter that gets undue attention. (Yes, minor on the minor issues.)

2. When the context of the controversy is misunderstood. If an issue brings people in who do not understand the context of the controversy, then it seems foolish to them. To many people today, all theological issues sound as if they are discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. At this point disengage and re-engage when context can be established.

3. When you don't really understand the issue yourself.

4. When your opponent is seeking to draw you into a heated debate so that you look angry, belligerent, or foolish. A video camera can lie, especially during the editing process.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Jolly Attire Determined By You The Readers

It is official, the community of blogdom thinks that the Jollyblogger's Pulpit Attire should be...drum roll...what ever is acceptable to his wife. Who knew?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Theology of Aesthetics: Who Will Set Our Heart Aright?

Scott Aniol at Kara Ministries has put forth the idea that Pastors are responsible for maturing the flock both in theology and emotions. Could it be that the emphasis on counseling methods has led our shepherds away from some of the tools that could really help the flock “to lay down beside the cool waters”? Could it be that we need more poets and less couches to set our hearts to love the savior more and worry less?

It must be said that only God can set our hearts aright. Regardless of technique, couch or choir, we must have the work of the Holy Spirit moving in our heart. But talking about the Holy Spirit's work, I have yet to hear someone say that they left a counseling session inspired and encouraged. Usually there is digging up of the past mistakes, past sufferings, and confrontation with present faults. But I have often heard people talk of being moved by a song. People sense the rightness of the words and tune that speaks of the greatness of God and/or his truth. Given that simple observation, I would say we need to have at least an equal amount of music courses in our ministerial training as we do counseling courses.

It would appear to me that Christian music is being led by the music recording industry and Christian radio. There are some really godly men and women who work in the Christian music recording industry and Christian radio. But I'm not seeing this as being connected well with the ministry of maturing God's flock emotionally. I am not criticizing these industries but stating there is a disconnect with this pastoral responsible and the leaders of Christian music. There is a difference between a song that is appropriate for Christian radio and the song that is appropriate for a worship service. The distinction is lost on not a few. For now, it seems the recording industry has the influence with the members of the flock. While there are many notable exceptions, the music recording industry does not attempt to led the flock anywhere, but attempts to reflect what will sell in the market place. Of course this is not leadership. Do we create (or live with) two systems of music, the music which helps groom our soul for heavenly affection and the music that is popular in the market? Sadly, the institutional church is playing second fiddle to the music recording industry.

The pastor and elders are responsible for oversight of their flock. The pastor must be able to lead his flock, encourage his flock and bring his flock to a place of resting in the grace of God. Guiding the flock is more art than science. While some may use music, other might use words of encouragement. While some might use words, others may use actions to communicate. In the realm of sports, I'm sure there are coaching classes taught, but coaching is learned by modeling for the most part. I think pastors often learn how to lead the group by seeing it modeled and by doing it. Additionally, modeling the emotional maturity is probably the most important earthly factor in leading the flock down this path. That true leadership must stand on the Scripture, trust in God with courageous faith, and live a humble, godly life. In the end, I would say both couch and choir can be a way to bring people to emotional maturity but neither are effective without the work of God.

Kara Ministries Weblog

Kara Ministries Weblog: "“Neither should we ordain young men as preachers, unless they have been well exercised in music.” — Martin Luther"

Scott is asking for your feedback as to how much training a pastor should have in music, who is responsible to see that he has it and whether it should be a part of ordination.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Student punished for blog entry -

First I have to say that anyone is subhuman, regardless of the moral behavior, either genuinely fails to understand what a human is, or it is insulting. I wonder what the school sanctioned means of talking the issue actually is? Perhaps they should publish guideline for taking a controversal position. (End of sarcasm)

Student punished for blog entry - "Ryan Miner says he's willing to risk expulsion rather than write a 10-page essay as ordered by Duquesne University.

The essay on the pros and cons of homosexuality is not homework. It's punishment for his derogatory comments about gays and lesbians -- he called them 'subhuman' in a blog -- and the sanctions have divided Duquesne's campus.

'I believe as a student that my First Amendment rights in the Constitution were subverted and attacked,' said Miner, 19, a sophomore from Hagerstown, Md.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Theology of Asthetics: Emotional Response To Truth

I am sort of a person of intense emotions, but I am driven by my thoughts. I am amazed how many people do not take me seriously when I look at a situation and I feel strongly about it. I am amazed that people count raw facts without emotion attached as more true than facts with emotion attached. In a sense, whether someone feels that Auschwitz was terrible or not does not really make a difference as to whether it actually was terrible. But the fact that Auschwitz was terrible must be felt if it is known. Truth and the emotional response to that truth can not really be separated.

At the same time, some truths are not allowed to be perceived if we have a emotional state that does not allow the perception of a truth. For instance, I had a friend who years ago was involved in a church planting effort. He was working hard and doing as much as he could to make it all work. His church planting effort was not working out though he was trying his best. But he being a harding working, keep your chin up, do right kind of a guy, did not want to give up or even think negatively. One day he caught the flu. As he was sick he started feeling bad emotionally. He started to look at the facts that the church planting effort was not successful. After he got better from his illness, he looked back at the emotional low point as a good thing because he was able to realize what the actual facts were. He moved to another established church and is doing well. His optimistic, keep your chin up attitude hindered his evaluation of his ministry.

There is not a lot of explicit theology of emotions in the Scriptures. However, emotions are expressed in a wide variety of situations. I would say that is because emotions are seen as a response to truth. However in our post-modern world, we see emotions as a result of biochemical processes. We see the most important factor in a person's emotional state as his or her biochemical processes, we hold to a world view of view of biochemical determinism. We see emotions as the result of sleep habit, food and drink consumed, and stress. When we see emotions as merely the result of chemical issues, that means the problem of negative emotions is a chemical solution. But I digress. Then when we approach the Scriptures and the emotions as expressed therein, we see it through the glasses of our modern biochemical deterministic world view. In other words, the emotions expressed in Scripture is disassociated with the truth expressed in Scripture. So when we approach how psalmist felt about his exile to Babylon, we already have a theology that the psalmist was depressed which affected his message. It can't be that the psalmist was dealing with a gloomy subject that required someone to mourn. (Of course we don't mourn, we experience depression instead. There is an object of loss with mourning, depression is treated as a disease.)

I would propose that a theology of emotions requires us to see our emotional states as responses to truths. There is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tally Times: Frances Schaeffer's Effect on Modern Society

Wondering what the deal is with Franscis Schaffer? Who reads him anyway? Check out my daughters post on the good Dr.

Tally Times: Frances Schaeffer's Effect on Modern Society: "Frances Schaeffer's Effect on Modern Society

Francis Schaeffer has affected society with his theology through his books, his friendships, his films, his preaching, his children, and his retreat home for learning: L'Abri."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Reformation Day Approaching

Luther's Thesis 37 "Any true Christian, living or dead, partakes of all the benefits of Christ and the Church, which is the gift of God, even without letters of pardon."

I was amazed to read in a history of the printing press that while the press was used to print theological tracts, it was also used to print letters of indulgence, here in Luther's 37th called letters of pardon. It makes me think that blogging and other communications technologies can be used to strengthen the church or lead her astray. I think of Televangelists who made the medium of TV one of money raising. It seems we could do the same with the Internet, blogging, etc...

In this thesis there seems to be a disconnect between the organizational church and the life of the Christian. Rather than the organizational church affirming the work of the Spirit, it had a seperation way of salvation, namely through indulgences. The church as an organization should always remember her power and authority are derived from her Head, Christ Jesus.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

Number One

When Luther nailed his 95 thesis the door of the Wittenburg church he had a lot of topics to cover. The first thesis for debate is this:

"Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in saying 'Repent ye,etc.' meant the whole life of the faithful to be an act of repentance."

As we come to this Reformation day, let us think about what it means to live our lives as expressions of repentance. Repentance is not merely walking down to alter and saying the sinners prayer. Every day should become an expression of repentance.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Leading Up to The Reformation: The Scriptures Alone

The Emerging Church is a movement which defies definition. One aspect of this Christian movement has been the casting off the bonds of tradition. More importantly, Christ in the Scriptures directs us away from the traditions of men to follow the living God when he said, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." Mark 7:8 (NIV) This generation may feel that it is the first to challenge authority. However, it could be argued that casting off tradition is the hallmark of the Protestant tradition. John Wycliffe is called “Morning Star of the Reformation” for his teachings against the traditions of men found in the Roman Catholic Church. Wycliffe taught the proper place of ecclesiastical authority, against transubstantiation, and the authority of the Scriptures.
John Wycliffe was born of Saxon extraction around the year A.D. 1324 in Wycliffe Manor in Yorkshire, England. He was both an academic at Oxford University and a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. He held several posts to include warden at Cantebury Hall (1365). Archbishop Simon Langham removed Wycliffe from his position at Cantebury Hall in order to give it to another. Wycliffe appealed the matter to the Pope Urban V. After nine years of considering the matter, another Pope, Gregory XI denied his appeal. His critics thought Wycliffe's reforms were motivated by these injustices. Wycliffe was appointed by the king to the church of Lutterworth (1374), a position he held the rest of his life.
John Wycliffe was enlisted in service to the King as chaplain to the court. On the official documents, he is listed as the second delegate to negotiate at Bruges against payment of tribute to the papacy. At Bruges Wycliffe began a long term association with John of Gaunt, who would later protect Wycliffe. He was not included in the second set of talks, presumably because of staunch positions.
Upon the return from Bruges, he began his career as a reformer. A central theme to many of his ideas revolve around the topic of authority. His position regarding ecclesiastical authority was that it was not an absolute power but derived from God as long as it was faithful to teaching of the Scriptures. This was in direct conflict with how the papacy exercised powers over the civil governments at the time. Not only did he attack the civil authority of the papacy, he chipped away at one of the papacy's sources of power, the sacraments, when he denied transubstantiation. This doctrine stated that the Eucharist became the actual body and blood of Christ. Wycliffe taught that the presence of Christ came as the members of the church believed in faith.
Wycliffe was not attempting merely to deride the authority of ecclesiastical structures. Wycliffe taught that Scripture was the only source of authority and it should be given to the common Christian. To put his beliefs into practice, he developed two innovations. First, he developed band of poor preachers to take the Scriptures to the common people. The poor preachers ministered to the poor whom Wycliffe considered to be neglected by the Friars. His band of preachers also took tracts developed by Wycliffe with them on their iterate preaching missions. Secondly, Wycliffe translated the Scriptures from the Latin Vulgate version into English. It was a word for word translation which stuck to the Latin word order even when normal English would not call for the same. He probably did this so that his translation would not be accused of failing to be faithful. His translation became of part of the English Christian heritage. He set in motion reforms not only in his home country but also in Bohemia when his student returned with the their notes and Wycliffe's radical ideas. Wycliffe is important for articulating that the Scriptures are the final authority instead of ecclesiastical structures.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ashley Langford: Can The Lost Be Found?

Reprint of a Lost Quiz: This quiz is heavy on the Lost trivia and light on cute assessments of your personality. Check it out.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Common Census: I live in the Baltimore-Washington Area

I just took the CommonCensus poll featured in Wired News.

The CommonCensus Map Project is redrawing the map of the United States based on Internet users' voting, to show how the country is organized culturally, as opposed to traditional political boundaries. It shows how the country is divided into 'spheres of influence' between different cities at the national, regional, and local levels.

This information will finally settle the question over where disputed cultural boundaries lie (like between New York City and Upstate New York), contribute to the national debate over Congressional redistricting, and educate people everywhere as to the true layout of the American people that they've never seen on any map before.

Participation takes just 12 clicks.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Venezuela to Expel New Tribes Mission - Christianity Today Magazine

I'm saddened to hear this report. I really don't think the CIA wants to hire missionaries. It just would not be their style.

Venezuela to Expel New Tribes Mission - Christianity Today Magazine: "In what appears to be the latest consequence of broadcaster Pat Robertson's August call for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's assassination, Chavez announced plans to expel from the country New Tribes Mission, a church-planting and Bible-translating mission agency.

Describing New Tribes Mission (NTM) as a 'true imperialist infiltration that makes me ashamed,' Chavez declared he was fed up with 'colonialism' and accused the mission group of links to the CIA, spying on Venezuela, and exploiting indigenous people. 'We don't want New Tribes here,' he said."

Wired News: What Would Jesus Blog?

GodBlogCon God Blog Convention

I am a frequent reader of Wired. At one time they had a lot of interesting things to say about religion and the Internet. (i.e. "God" at one time was one of the most commonly search items on the Internet. What exactly are they finding when they searched for him there.) Lately most of their articles on religion are tongue in cheek or derogetory. This one is a little tongue in cheek but not too bad. I'm glad to see they did cover the God Blog event.

Wired News: What Would Jesus Blog?: "What would Jesus blog? That and other pressing questions drew 135 Christians to Southern California this weekend for a national conference billed as the first-ever for 'God bloggers,' a growing community of online writers who exchange information and analyze current events from a Christian perspective." Follow the link to get the rest...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mars Hill Audio Journal

I have just discovered the Mars Hill Audio Journal. I have to say I am impressed and a subscription is going on my Christmas list. If you are not familiar with their material they have some free mp3s to check out which they dub as "Bonus Selections".

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - Politics - Bloggers Seek to Mix Faith and the Internet

I wish I were going to this convention. Oh, yeah... - Politics - Bloggers Seek to Mix Faith and the Internet: "Bloggers Seek to Mix Faith and the Internet
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
By Greg Simmon
WASHINGTON — When Johann Gutenberg's printing press began churning out Bibles in the 15th century, the new theology helped usher in a new era of religion in Europe.

Nearly 600 years later, some think that increasingly popular Web logs — the Internet's version of personal journals, pamphleteering and issue forums all wrapped in one — combined with traditional religious beliefs could once again take people on a new, uncharted course.

Click the link to read the rest...
" - Irratating. Interupted. Chaotic. Exasperating.

Growing up in the Mid-West, Christianity Today magazine was on the library shelves. I read it often and it helped develop my concern for the poor. It also introduced me to J.I. Packer. In short I love the magazine.

However, I do not frequently visit their website because it is way too busy. Christianity Today has several magazines, Leadership, Christian History and the list goes on. Instead of having a webportal that takes you to these various venues, they have placed the whole of their publishing empire on the top site. I am guessing this why the font is way to small for us with over 40 eyes.

As a student of preaching, I always want to be Word centric. However, I think they could use much more graphics and less text.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Jungle Pop

Please visit Jungle Pop. According to, A popsicle is a trademark used for a colored, flavored ice confection with one or two flat sticks for a handle.

The coolest thing about Jungle Pop is the cool popsicle icon in my URL bar. Blog on brother...

Jungle Pop: "*thunk thunk* (Is This Thing On?)

Greetings, and welcome (back)! Most of you are here because you've been a reader of my Former Blog and want to continue abusing me here. :^) The rest of you are here because you've heard so much about this hot new blog Jungle Pop and want to see it for yourselves. Heh."

Luis Palau and Jack Yoest

Interesting post by Jack Yoest.

Jack Yoest at "Your Business Blogger met Luis Palau as he was giving a talk on the DC Festival coming up this weekend in the Nation's Capital on October 8 & 9. The expected attendance is 100,000.

'What was the biggest logistical challenge of having the Festival here in Washington, DC?' I asked Dr. Palau."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Politics Test

At the goading of the Gadfly I took the Politics Test. I think some people would be surprised find out I'm a Social Liberal.

You are a

Social Liberal
(61% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(56% permissive)

You are best described as a: Centrist

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

loc: (43, 24)
modscore: (34, 37)
raw: (3234)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Christian Canon Was Authoritative From Its Inception

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is the main source of information for many in this post-modern generation regarding how the Bible developed. One of it's themes is that those who held power in the church choose the books of the Bible to support their power base. Browns charge against the church, though couched in a work of fiction, is a serious. The Bible itself gives strong warnings against such power plays. Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” And the book of Revelation “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,” calls for faithfulness to the book. (Rev 22:18) The list of the books that rightly belong in the Bible is called the canon. The canon is not strictly a human product, but God created the canon by his work of inspiration in the biblical writers and the church merely recognized the intrinsic authority of the Bible.

The church received scriptures from the Children of Israel. The early church had to decide whether to recognize the Old Testament (OT). The Apocrypha is Old Testament books which were a part of the fourth century Septuagint and were later officially recognized as a part of the Roman Catholic Bible. However, the early church father Jerome who translated the Apocrypha into Latin did not recognize it as scripture. Additionally, the New Testament never quotes from the Apocrypha. The earliest list of books to form the OT was given by the Bishop of Sardis, Melito, in A.D. 170. Melito's list is what is found in today's Protestant Bibles. Generally, the OT was handed down to the church from the Children of Israel's Hebrew Bible.

The early church did not have a entire body of work presented to it in recognizing the New Testament (NT) canon. It was not until the fourth century that Athanasius wrote a list that contains the NT books of the canon essentially as we see them today. While Athanasius listed the books of the canon and helped develop use of the word canon, he did not set the canon. There was no authoritative leader nor body of leaders who set the canon. While we could say the canon was established by God, in practical terms the mechanism He used was the use of the writings of scripture by the community of faith. As the early church used the scriptures in public worship, they were recognized as scripture. As NT scriptures were authoritatively quoted by the early church leaders, they were taken to be authoritative by the community of faith. Did the early church come to recognize the writings of scripture gradually over time or did the church quickly recognize the nature of the writings from their inception? Scholars such as Gamble would not only assume an evolutionary development of the text but also assume a gradual recognition of the text as authoritative. The text would be written for an occasion and gradually the occasional nature of the text would give way to an authoritative inclusion of the text into the canon. Without a doubt, the present form of the NT was not seen at the inception of the church and did take time to form. However, the authority of NT scriptures were recognized even during the time they were being written. 2 Peter 3:15 mentions Paul's writings as being “as other scripture”. 1 Timothy 5:18 makes two quotes of scripture. One being an OT passage but the other “The laborer deserves his wages” can not be found in the OT. It seems reasonable that Paul is quoting Luke 10:7 since it is word for word the same and he declares it to be scripture. The early church fathers quoted and alluded to the NT. Clement, Bishop of Rome in A.D. 95, made use of probably seven of our NT books in his writings. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who was martyred before A.D. 117, quoted or alluded to six books of our NT. Polycarp, the famous aged martyr, makes use of the language of fifteen of the NT books. During the time of the Greek Apologiests, A.D. 120-170, writers such as Irenaeus, Papias, and Justin used authoritatively the books from the NT.

The writers of the NT scripture, the early church Fathers and the Greek Apologists all recognized the inherent authority of OT and the NT. The prophetic and apostolic authority was not difficult to spot given that some knew the apostles and some had even heard them preach.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Baptism, by Francis Schaeffer

I was doing a search on Francis Schaeffer and found this article on baptism. I thought I would share it with you.



Francis A. Schaeffer

In introduction, there are several things to emphasize as we begin this study.
1. We do not believe in Baptismal Regeneration. Let me remind you that it was over the question of the sacraments that Calvin and Luther differed during the Reformation Period. To Calvin, and those who have followed him, the important thing is the individual's coming directly to Christ for salvation. In regard to baptism, we who are Presbyterians, are interested primarily not in the water baptism but in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which takes place when the individual accepts Christ as his personal Saviour. click on the link to get the rest....

Friday, September 23, 2005

FEMA for KIDS Homepage: Education, Schools, Disasters, Games, Teachers, Art, Hurricane

I'm looking at the FEMA website for kids. The pictures sort of look creepy. I think I would try a little less cartoon network.

Hattip: Dave Barry.

Monday, September 19, 2005

An Open Letter To My Daughters on Education

Vision Statement for the Pruitt Family Homeschool

To Annalee, Corrie, Rebeccah, Noelle, and Elaine,

Girls, this is a statement about the hopes and desire your mother and I have for you. I believe these hopes are in line with God's plans for you. I wish to communicate them to you explicitly so that you are not guessing about our goals for our homeschool. Additionally, I am communicating them so that we are reaching to the high calling that God has placed upon all of us. I hope these stretch you but leave lots of room for you to develop your own goals which fit God's unique gifts that he has given you.

o God Centered Education:

The main purpose of our homeschool education is to develop Christian character. Christian character is defined as the same character as Christ. He served selflessly. The character qualities found in the Sermon on the Mount and the fruits of the Spirit is how we hope to live, given by God's Holy Spirit. This kind of character can not be achieved by our own determination or training due to our sinful nature. It is done through the work of the Holy Spirit and starts with regeneration. Therefore it is your mother's and my own desire that each of you place your faith in Christ and be dependent upon him alone for eternal salvation. This is the fundamental step taking you down a road of transformation. From this beginning we hope not only for you to be Christians but to also be filled with the Spirit of God Almighty, growing in knowledge and grace. To see the blessing you must avail yourselves to the means of grace God has given us; the Bible, prayer, witnessing, the church and the sacrament. A solid knowledge of the Bible is essential for developing a Christian world view but without prayer and devoted life to God it simply results in pride and legalism. We desire to see you posses a rich relationship with God and for it to be the center for living your life even when you leave our care.

o Christian World View:

One of the great benefits of a Christian education is the opportunity to view the world through the biblical point of view. Everyone sees the world through a world view. Many in my generation have taken ungodly world views that are centered on man and not God. These run counter to biblical and true faith and scholarship. It is our hope that you will be able to stand against these errors of man centered and naturalistic world views. Some of these views include evolutionary view of the origins of the world and human culture. While the first is destructive, there has been many who have been led astray by those who reinterpret all the scripture through a man made system. Men of various academic backgrounds attack the truth of scripture. It is our desire that you will be able to recognize and ward off these attacks.
In addition to rejecting worldly lifestyles and thoughts systems it is our hope that you do not adopt the errors which have crept into the church. In our day and age, the error of a decision based salvation has invaded the church at large and squelched the growth of many Christians. Errors from within the church and without the church will plague the church until the return of Christ. It is our prayer that you may stand against such error in your home, church and society.
o Basic Skills:

After godly character, we desire for you gain tools for learning. Reading, writing and arithmetic are often thought of as the basic skills. While it is overly simple to think that these three are all that we need for life, to do without them would be disastrous. We do not desire for a mere ability to read but a love for reading. We do not merely desire that you have the ability to write but hat you are able to articulate your thoughts on paper. We do not want you to merely be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide but that you would be able to examine your world though math.

o Broad Knowledge

In addition to these basic skills we seek to have you learn a great breadth of world around us. The riches of science, history, geography, culture, philosophy, music, visual and performing arts give context for understanding the world around you. None of us can master all of these areas of academic endeavor but a broad education makes a person more equipped for life.

Science - The ability to examine our world through experience
and put it in a uniform system of thought.

History - Examining the world from the written record of those who
were close to those events.

Geography - Understanding the physical, political, cultural relations of
our world.

Culture - Human systems of living and thought; to include languages.

Philosophy - To understand the basic questions of life; who am I, where
am I, what is right and what is beautiful.

Arts - Expressions of human thought and emotion through music,
literature, painting, plays, dance and film.

This list of what should be included in a broad education is not all that you should learn. It is a good basis for a broad education.

o Unique Gifts, Specialization and Salable Skills

You need broad based education for life but you have only so many years on earth. You must use you days wisely. Each of you must choose the skills you would like to embrace as your own. You must be good stewards of the abilities which God has given you. The most important element in being a steward of these gifts is hard work in your selected field. As you are faithful in developing these gifts through hard work, planning, determination and studying God will give you opportunities to use those gifts. David developed the skills to protect sheep and play music. Through these humble talents God raised up a king. He has good plans for you. Let Him show you his plan for your life. Make good use of the talents he has given you.
One great error people make in choosing different education paths is that they focus simply on an education as a means of obtaining career objectives. You may have a career for a few years but an education lasts a lifetime. Your investment of time, money, efforts and passions is not wasted when at the end you do not get the job with a certain title. In fact, a single career path is less and less the experience of most people. People may have one, two or three careers.
It is our desire that you find a couple of things that you can learn to do well. Even if these are not your life long goals, they can carry you through your life as music and shepherding carried David through out his life. Skills are transferable. It is important that you select your areas of concentration so that you can put your whole heart into it. Lifelong pursuit of excellence in your chosen areas is our goal.

Your Parents

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Another Blog Recommendation: Thoughts of a PCA Pastor

I met Mark Balthrop a few years back. He is a great preacher and a really fun guy.

Thoughts of a PCA Pastor: "Calvinism and Calvinistism

I once heard the late John Gerstner speak of the difference between Lutheranism and LUTHER-ism. It is an interesting topic and gives us some historical understanding of how systems of doctrine change over time while retaining some of the trappings of the original."

Click the link to read the rest....well of his thoughts...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Jack Yoest at

You might want to go check out a new blog I'm reading, Jack Yoest. He wrote about John Roberts, but I like the story he tells about his Uncle Joe. Worth the read.

Jack Yoest at "Memorize Your Sales Pitch"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Quiz on Romans 5:12-21

The following is a lesson I wrote in the form of a quiz. The multiple choice format is really designed to bring out assumptions that are held by people which do not agree with the passage. Occationally I will throw in answers that could be supported by other passages, but not this one.

Romans 5:12-21

Main Idea: Sin came upon many through the one Adam; many sins were forgiven because of the righteous one, Jesus Christ.

Key Words: sin, one, many, all, death, free gift, type, trespass, grace

1.From Adam to Moses There Was No Law (12-14)
2.The Free Gift Is Not Like the Law (15-17)
3.The Trespass Increased But Grace Did More So (18-21)

1.How did sin come to mankind?
(Verses 12,13)
A. Through Eve
B. Through Adam
C. Through Satan
D. Each man or woman sins of their own free will and that is all that matters.

2. How did death come into the world? (Verses 12,13)
A. Through Eve
B. Through Adam
C. Each person dies because of their own sin.
D. Death is a natural life cycle that existed before Adam and Eve were made.

3. When was the law given? (Verse 14)
A. In the garden of Eden.
B. To Noah on Mt. Sinai.
C. To Moses on Mt. Sinai.
D. To Jesus on Mt. Sinai.

4. How was the sin from the time of Adam to Moses different than Adam's sin? (Verse 14)
A. Their sin was minor in nature.
B. Their sin was not breaking the expressed law of God.
C. Their sin was basically being evil.
D. Their sin was that of legalism.

5. How does one know he or she is sinning? (Verse 13)
A. A guilty conscience
B. Bad things happen to them
C. Other people tell them
D. The law of God explains it

6. How are the free gift and the trespass different? (Verse 15-17)
A. The free gift covers many sins while the trespass was just one, affecting many.
B. Adam did not know what he was doing.
C. The free gift affected many while the trespass just affected Adam. Everyone else sinned on their own.
D. We don't know.

7. Does the phrase “all men” in the last half of verse 18 refer to each individual on the earth or to all mankind as a whole?

8. Why would God want sin to increase? (Verse 20)
A. So he can punish us.
B. So that he looks good.
C. So that we would have the Bible.
D. So that I would understand my need.

9. A federal head is one who represents the group. Adam was the federal head of...
A. Eve
B. Himself
C. The whole human race
D. All who sin

10. Jesus is the federal head of....
A. His disciples
B. All mankind
C. The church
D. Everyone since the day of Pentecost

Answers: b, b, c, b, d, a, “mankind as a whole ”, d, c, c

If you think differently let me know, I would be glad to discuss it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

JOLLYBLOGGER: Baltimore, Washington, Northern Virginia God-Blogger Meetup

JOLLYBLOGGER: Baltimore, Washington, Northern Virginia God-Blogger Meetup: "Baltimore, Washington, Northern Virginia God-Blogger Meetup"

What: Blogger Meet Up
Where: Somewhere yet to be determined in Laurel, MD.
When September 30 in the evening.
Who: If you are a blogger in the Baltimore-Washington Metro Area and beyond, this is for you.
Why: Fun! That is the bottom line. Discussing your blogging with fellow bloggers has got to be fun.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Inventing Japan - A Good Listen

I just finished listening to this book on tape called “Inventing Japan” by Ian Buruma. I listened to this book because my oldest daughter is interested in Japanese culture and I wanted to expand my knowledge of the country. The book covers a lot of history in a short time. There is no way for the uninitiated like myself to judge whether the author is fair or covers the right topics in this history. But you get the feel that he has a strong appreciation for Japan.
The author makes the case that westerners have consistently messed up their dealings with the Japanese. I don't think he would like it that say it is one of his main ideas but it is difficult no to think otherwise. But is this not this the usual case when two cultures meet? Who exactly is messing up? The guest or the host? Education about various cultural practices can help to understand a direction that could be taken. However, according to Buruma, General MacArthur knew about Japanese culture and still did not do the right things. What to do?
The author goes into detail about the Japanese ideas of freedom, loyalty and politics. There are a lot of names of people that are important to Japanese culture but were difficult for me to get a handle on. However, I am at least familiarized with them. The historical character that impressed me the most was the Buruma's description of Fukuzawa Yukichi. According to Buruma, he is more open to freedom of thought than the average Japanese of his day, but the emphasis from the Wikipedia point of view is that of a strategic thinker who wants to ensure the future of Japanese dominance. Amid all the other, he stood out the most to me.
I would definitely recommend you listen to the book. It gave me a great breadth of knowledge about Japan. It also helped me understand just a little more about how nations deals with nation. Finally, it showed me how individuals can be a positive influence in their culture and how people can intend to be a positive influence and miss it. | A New Way to Serve NGOs and Remote Communities with Technology

inveneco is a charity that provides telecommunications services for those who are in neeed. This can really boost a village's well-being. Since I often talk about Christian mission agencies, I should clarify that they are not a Christian mission but simply a charity.

Excerpt from their website: Inveneo is leaving for Bay St. Louis, Mississippi to meet up with CityTeam who has been on the ground there for a few days. CityTeam's Disaster Relief Team is already working with the local communities to provide support and services. Inveneo is going to help establish Internet connectivity and phone lines for use by the victims of Hurricane Katrina and CityTeam's Disaster Relief Team. Currently phone service is only intermittent in the area and no Internet connectivity is available. Inveneo is working with Part-15 and others to establish these services and provide shelters in the area with phones and computers so families can communicate.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Seperation of Church and State Is Biblical

It is my belief that many Americans hold to a form of separation of church and state which is not healthy for state nor church. The principle of separation of church and state is more than just a social convention, it is a principle that is supported by both Old and New Testaments. When Saul attempted to take on priestly duties he was rebuked by the Lord. (1 Samuel 13:18) For the New Testament proof we can think of "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and give to God the things that are God's" and Christ's reply to Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world. (Luke 20:25; John 18:36) But at the same time, the idea of separation of church and state in modern American form does not correlate with the Old Testament form because the separation mean in the OT that religion had an influence on the nation corporately. Nor does the American system of separation of church and state by and large approve a voice calling national leaders to see their sin as John the Baptist did with Herod. The American system is not uniform, nor is it's purpose the same in everyone's eyes. For some American's whose belief system is naturalistic, the separation of church and state is a way to minimize the influence of the church in the life of America. In other words, it is a way to allow private citizens to maintain their superstition if they must have it but the goal is to isolate it to the private lives of individuals who are not enlightened enough to see the truth of science. For many religious types of people, the separation of church and state is system to help everyone get along and maintain peace. The separation of church and state in the scriptures has neither of these purposes. Rather purpose is to maintain purity of true faith and the ability to transcend earthly powers.

Ideally in my humble opinion, a healthy separation of church and state has these elements:

1. Public ceremonies that incorporate prayer and oaths should use the denomination/religion of choice of those participating.

2. The state should not seeks to affirm it's temporal power through state sanctified worship. Emperor worship such as in ancient Rome and in pre-WW II Japan, the state confused some of the people into thinking temporal powers had transcendent virtue. The state also robs itself of an absolute moral standard to guide those who serve as government leaders.

3.The church should not attempt to exercise temporal power rather than instruct from the transcendent truth and virtue. When the church exercises temporal power, it over simplifies the gospel to being a loyalty oath. How can the church teach the doctrines of grace when the power it exercises is earthly and temporal? Grace is heavenly and eternal.

4.The church should recognize the state as a tool of the Lord to suppress evil.

5.The state should respect the power of truth that the church offers.

6.There should be a creative tension between church and state rather than a destructive tension. I would define destructive tension as persecution or hate from either the church or the state for the other. The civil leaders should be discipled by the church to have a moral compass. As pragmatic issues are raised by the state, these issues will stretch the church to attain new heights for understanding and applying truth.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Men Love Media (More Than Women)

Men Love Media (More Than Women)

Published: September 07, 2005

Anna Wintour can breathe a sigh of relief. Women spend more time every week reading magazines than men do. But in almost all other categories men consume more media than women.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


The imagery of hurrican Katrina can be viewed at the NOAA web site. I was not sure how extensive the damage really was, despite extenisve news cover, until I saw hundreds of homes flooded.

If you are not sure where to click on the map, go to the largest blue lake and click just below that. That is (was) New Orleans.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Blog of scott harrison - notes from west africa

Scott Harrison's blog call "Scott Harrison - Notes from West Africa is an intriging blog. His missionary task is to be a photo journalist on board the mercy ship Anastasis. His work is artsy and informative. You might also want to visit his photo website. You will find the links on his blog.

I have been reading Earle E. Cairns book on church history "Christianity Through The Centuries" which emphasizes that the early church Father's spent a lot of time explaining their religion to the world. They wrote to explain how many of the myths about Christians were not true, for instance the myth that they ate children, and explain why Christians should not be persecuted. Scott's photo journalism efforts remind me of these early apologiests. He is explaining what the needs of the poor are, and letting the world know the heart of compassion needed. He is explaining the love of Christ to these people as demonstrated through the efforts of the doctors, nurses and other crew members of the Anastasis. Scott's is a great apologetic work.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

OK Go - the Video

I have written several posts about how the right mix for Internet video is short video done at a low cost. Here is a really cool music video that is not quite MTV video standards but fun, creative and makes you wonder what could have been done with a budget.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Why Go To War In Iraq?

Are We Really That Crass?
Reading this discussion at Digan's 75 Year Plan makes me want to answer this question. The reasons the U.S. going to war in Iraq are not merely the atrocities committee by the Bathist Government of Saddam Hussain, nor was it Saddam's attacks on his own people, nor was it merely because he was by many pre-war accounts developing weapons of mass destruction. The good reasons for going to war in Iraq have been stated many times and are quite simple. In fact, so simple that some feel it is not reasons at all.

Middle Eastern Thinking
In the past the Middle East has been home of a class of educated people who are devoted to their religion. Many of these people have opportunities to live comfortable middle class lifestyles or even better. However their nations (or is it people, or is it religion) do not have the international prestige that they desire. An overwhelming question in their minds and hearts is “Why has God not blessed our nation/people/religion?” The answer provided by their religious teachers is that they have sinned by not maintaining the purity of Islam. Some forms of this ideology call for Islamic governments, others call for non-violent struggling for their religion and others call for violence in their struggle. These answers are outside the realm of government and rest with the religious teachers and religious organizations.

Western Thinking
From a western point of view the problems in the Middle East is a dictatorial system of government which oppresses people. It is the breeding ground for radical ideology. The oppressive government systems cause the people to search for answers in radical groups, therefore, we need to change the systems of government in the area to democratic forms of government. Freedom, liberty and democracy will allow people to find other means to address their issues other than terrorism. Of course, there is no guarantee once people have the ability to participate in their government and that they actually will. It could be that once democracy is available in all nations in the Middle East, young men will still seek their answers with radical clerics. However, to allow the status quo to continue in the Middle East would mean a continued growth of influence for radical organizations and radical clerics. When President Bush says he wants to see freedom and democracy in the Middle East, it is not merely rhetoric to justify his actions, it is a strategy to break up the root causes of terrorism.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Capital Bible Seminary

Classes start this next week. Tommorrow is oreintation. I’m looking forward to the study. I have already completed on of the assigned readings. It was a pictorial overveiw of church history. It was enjoyable. I talked with one of the academic counselors yesterday. I really had questions about what was realistic ministry for myself and was seeking answers. He is a guy who retired early from the state university system is pursuing missions as an avocation. God sent the perfect person to tell me keep up the pursuit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Three Days of the Condor for Lunch

So my wife and I are looking for lunch near the Metropolitan Art Museum. We walk three blocks East and one block North and we happen to come up to a little place called the Candy Shop Luncheonette. Your son's school bus is bigger than this place. So it is sort of a diner, but small. As we sit there we notice that there are a lot of celebrities who have taken their picture with the owner. You know, like Jerry Seinfeld and such. I guess Jerry was trying to sponge off this guys name or something. Anyway, we read on the menu that the diner was used in the making of Three Days of the Condor. By the way the bacon burger is excellent and my wife had the tuna salad.

Televangelist Is Wrong More Than One Way

I don't watch the 700 Club but this quote from the Washington Post if accurate is highly irresponsible. I would not accept it from a Muslim cleric nor is it something I do accept from a Christian televangelist. Morally Robertson is wrong.

By the way, how can you do a covert op if it has been announced on TV and the Washington Post. Anyone killing Chavez has an easy party to blame, the US. This just shows that Robertson does not really have a clue what he is talking about. Covert ops and public media do not mix. They are mutually exclusive. Pragmatically, Robertson is wrong.

Below is the Washington Post quote.

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."Televangelist Calls for Chavez' Death: "'We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,' Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's 'The 700 Club.'

'We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,' he continued. 'It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.'"

Monday, August 22, 2005

Redeemer Presbyterian Church

My wife and I celebrated our 22 wedding anniversary this month by visiting the Big Apple. We stayed at a hotel in the Wall Street district. One of our highlights was visiting Redeemer Presbyterian Church. We took the subway up town to the corner of 64th and Central Park Avenue, on the West Side. The church meets in several locations, this one was a building belonging to an ethical society. It had traditional pew set up for the worship. The service seemed to be run by lay people for the most part with the sermon being delivered by one of the pastoral staff, Rev. David Bisgrove. The service did not seem to be overly liturgical, but leaned toward liturgical and less contemporary. My wife and I expected the music to be good and it was, but what impressed us was the authentic flavor of the music though classical in style.
Something different in this PCA church was the level of women in leadership. They gave the prayer, they read the scripture and took up the offering. Every church had deaconesses.
The sermon was excellent. Rev. Bisgrove gave many examples from popular print media and his own life to illustrate his points. His message, while tuned to an educated audience, sought to appeal to the emotions of the individuals.
New Yorkers have a strong sense of identity with “the city”. Prayers reflected this sense of corporate life as did other aspects of the church. As I mentioned, Redeemer has multiple services spread though out the city, and in order to reach this massive metropolitan area, they must not be confined to one neighborhood. The “church” has many congregations, but one ruling body of elders. They have separate deaconates for each congregation. At the congregation that I visited, the church was multiracial. That reflected “the city” but people seemed to all be from the middle class. Perhaps that reflects the neighborhood where the congregation meets.
If you are traveling or living in NY, I highly recommend attending Redeemer.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 Books: Emergence : Labeled Autistic Books: Emergence : Labeled Autistic: "Emergence : Labeled Autistic"

Browsing the bookstore biography I came across this book “Emergence: Labeled Autistic” by Temple Grandin, and Margaret M. Scariano. This biography is written in a style that is quite different than your normal biographical perspective, one somewhat distinguished by the autism itself. A prime example is an excerpt of one of the author's class paper's in college. The topic of the class is marriage but she somehow turns the topic to her fascination with cattle chutes. Strangely it works as a piece of literature despite the odd topics she can not leave behind. The book is only 180 pages and in a style that preteens and teens could read.
This book to me is about understanding people in general, not just the autistic. It is about seeing how perspectives can be quite different and yet correct. It is about how a mother struggles with her child to overcome a disability. I highly recommend the read.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

JOLLYBLOGGER: Review of "Total Truth" by Nancy Pearcey

My good friend Jollyblogger has written an engaging review of Total Truth. If have not the time to read the book, at least read the review.

JOLLYBLOGGER: Review of "Total Truth" by Nancy Pearcey: "At long last I have finished Nancy Pearcey's book, Total Truth and am posting a review. This book was provided to me by Stacy Harp at Mind & Media and was provided to her by the generosity of the good folks at Crossway Publishing. "

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Switched Onto Decaf

When I went to Operation DESERT STORM I took up the habit of drinking coffee. Eating breakfast at the dining hall meant that I would have to get up a half hour early. If I had breakfast of coffee once I got to work, I could sleep in. Oh by the way, I was working twelve on twelve off with an hour commute each way. I found the coffee habit a source of fellowship and a conversation item. After a while though I found my coffee habit one that could make me irratable. My attitude could be edgy and I would disenfrachanchise people around me. I also found myself depressed at times. I kept myself going with coffee when I should be resting. But I had not built enough time into my schedule to rest. I let myself get way too tired and too stressed by pushing myself way too hard. Then I found that I had a lot of trouble sleeping. Of course not sleeping was even worse on the stress managment issue.

I tried to simply not drink coffee quite a few times. My head would spin and basically I could not function. I had responsibilities and those had to be accomplished. I was dependant upon coffee to keep my life normal.

Four months ago I asked my wife to buy the coffee with half the caffine in it. So I started tapering off the caffine. Then a couple of weeks ago, I went to make coffee and there was none in the house. I did have decaffinated coffee so I made that. So I have made the final switch to decaf. I have had more than one day where I was feeling very tired. I have had a few head-aches. However, I have felt joy where I did not feel it a long time before. I have slept well and remembered my dreams. I used to remember my dreams I had dreamt during my sleep. But for the past few years I have not remembered my dreams. The week after I switched to decaf I remembered dream after dream. I can ususally guess what kind of problems my mind is processing through the dream. These dreams dealt with all the big problems I have in my life. I have found my mind does not wonder so much when I read. I have found I am less likely to get upset. I am told laying off the caffine will help my cholesterol levels too. Often when someone is drinking a lot of caffine the body stores water in the fat, sort of like a camel hump. I can tell my waste line had gone down a little and is no longer retaining water the same way.

I'm glad that I have made the switch. I still enjoy my decaf. Starbucks anyone?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Reforming Youth Ministry

My friend Laird sent me a link to this blog. I did not know my buddy was even into blogs. Go figure. Check out what seems to be a promising topic.

Reforming Youth Ministry: "Welcome to reforming youth ministry. This blog will be dedicated to an ongoing conversation of reforming and rethinking Youth Ministry in a covenantal context so that our methodogy would match our theology. This will be a place to toss out ideas, to be challanged, and Lord willing encouraged as we strive to be reformed and always reforming to the Word of God. The vision is a cross generational, family based, evangelistic, covenantal ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ. The vision is big and the problems hard, but may the God bless as we seek to make much of Jesus Christ and be faithful to His Holy Word. Let the conversation begin..."

Monday, August 08, 2005

Here I am Lord

Sermon on 1 Samuel 3
By Terry L. Pruitt

Title: “Here Am I Lord, Let Me Speak Your Word”


Samuel is called the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. He is the last of the judges because he led Israel until there was a King. He may not qualify as a judge in the sense that he led the children of Israel in a battle. Last week brother Badorf preached about one of God's judges for Israel. And with Samuel the days of the judges are passing by and the days of the kings and prophets in Israel's redemptive history is coming. There are a number of prophets in redemptive history before Samuel. There is Noah. He functioned as a prophet. He warned the people of God's impending judgment. There is also Abraham. God calls Abraham a prophet in Genesis 20:7 when addressing Abimelech regarding taking Sarah into his house. Moses is called a prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15. So there are other prophets before Samuel. However, Samuel marks a turning point in history of God's redemptive people.

In the beginning of 1 Samuel 3 the boy Samuel does not know God nor his Word but by the end, he is a man of God, known to be a prophet. In this story the boy is transformed from lackey to leader. He starts out receiving instruction from Eli but ends up giving Eli warnings. What makes this difference in the life of Samuel? It is the transforming Spirit of God and the transforming work of the Word of God. Samuel has been prepared for service in many ways, however, he does does not wait to begin his ministry until he is fully mature. He is obligated by his possession of the Word of God and by his ties of responsibility to his mentor Eli to declare the Word of God to him. We will see in this chapter how the Word of God transforms his servant Samuel as he ministers it to God's people.

Main Idea: The Word of the Lord Transforms His Servants as They Minister It In His Name.

Just to remind you of my method for preaching is to go verse or a group of verses and talk about the content. I try to use the natural outline of the biblical passage to create my outline. They all center around this idea of how Samuel is transformed by his experience with coming to know the Word of God. I also hope by the end, that if you are finding that you lack experience with the Word of God and do not know God, you will not wait for some day when you are more mature. I hope you will receive the Word of God now.

A. The Word of the Lord Was Rare (Verse 1)

I have never met personally someone who died from thirst. The people I have known who died, passed away from either disease or from an accident. But we know that a person can live much longer without food than without water. We can live without food for perhaps a few weeks, it really is determined though by how much fat reserves the person has. When a person goes without water, it does not depend on their size. A person can only survive without water for a matter of three or four days. The two survival situation that could cause someone to die from a lack of water are being stranded in the desert and being lost at sea. The person stranded in the desert simply has no water, but the person lost at sea has a lot of water, just none for drinking. I believe these two situations illustrate the differences of people in Israel in the days of Samuel and many in our nation who have never heard the Word of God preached. Neither of these situations today applied to those who have heard the Word of God, I'm talking about here in America there are those who have never heard nor read the Word of God. They have a million voices speaking to them, television, radio, friends and family, telephones, newspapers, Internet, movies, gossip, over heard conversations, songs, jokes, and the list goes on. But these people hear all kinds of things being said, they have not hear what God has to say. They are spiritually dehydrated. They thirst.

This illustration does not address people here in this church. It does not address the many blessed people in America. We have both the Word of God and we have it in spades. You can listen to the Word of God being preached on the radio. You can search the Bible interactively on the Internet. You can pick up the Bible in front of you and read it right now. You can read your Bible everyday. You can listen to tapes of Bible being read.

We have the Bible. It is God's love letter to us. We possess this special treasure. It is his gift to his people. It is our connection with God. It is our common heritage from the fathers and mothers of the faith. We have the scriptures. The Word of God is not rare here.

Listen to this short biography of John Wycliffe:

“John Wycliffe lived almost 200 years before the Reformation, but his beliefs and teachings closely match those of Luther, Calvin and other Reformers. As a man ahead of his time, historians have called Wycliffe the "Morning star of the Reformation."

Born in the 1300s, Wycliffe criticized abuses and false teachings in the Church. In 1382 he translated an English Bible--the first European translation done in over 1,000 years. The Lollards, itinerant preachers he sent throughout England, inspired a spiritual revolution.
But the Lollardy movement was short-lived. The Church expelled Wycliffe from his teaching position at Oxford, and 44 years after he died, the Pope ordered his bones exhumed and burned. Intense persecution stamped out his followers and teachings. It would be hundreds of years before men like Martin Luther resurrected the reforms of which Wycliffe dreamed.”
John Wycliffe was wise to know that it was not merely the printed, written word of God but also the spoken word of God. He knew that people had a need to read it and to hear it. We can thank God for giving his people in our history who have ensured we have the Word of God. Thank God for John Wycliffe and many others who have been a part of the legacy of our English Bible. I have heard complaints that we have too many translations of the Bible in English. It can be over whelming. We can have entirely too many choices when we choose a Bible. We are not in a desert nor are we lost at sea here in America, for the most part. We are on a cruise ship. All the meals and drink are paid for. We can choose tap water, or we can drink sparkling water, we can sip on spring water, or we can taste the perrie water, or we can guzzle water purified with reverse osmosis. I'm not really sure what that last one really is, but anyway, we have a lot of choices in reading the Word of God.

I told you earlier that I never met anyone who died from thirst. I have many times been present when people fainted or became ill because they were dehydrated. It is usually because the did not drink enough for the event they were doing. The dehydration come with plenty of pure water available but not drank. Likewise, we should not

I would like to give some tips for giving Bibles.

I would encourage each parent here to make sure your child who can read has a Bible that is appropriate for their age. I would not think a KJV is appropriate for a child who is in third grade. I enjoy the KJV and use it a lot. Make sure it Bible is accessible to your child while at the same time maintaining integrity of the Word.

I would also if you give a Bible as a gift that you get one is of the same quality that you would want to read yourself. Make sure the print is large enough to read. Make sure it is a solid translation.

B. Eli's Eyes Grow Dim (Verses 2-3)

Eli's eyes growing dim show his stage in life where he is declining and the coming dimming of the lights in the house of God foreshadows the future of Eli's work and life. This is not judgment necessarily, for judgment will come in the future. He is decreasing, another must increase. The natural part would be for Eli to decline and his sons to pick up the work of priesthood for the nation. Eli's work will be passed on to another.

This particular section is in contrast with the growth and development of Samuel which we see in point F of this outline.

Funny thing is that Christianity is a multi-generational institution. We pass it on from one generation to the next. Sometimes the passing of the faith from one generation to the next is successful. At other times it is tripped up. Passing the faith requires two parts, the passing of the senior generation to the younger and then an embracing of the faith by the junior. Each age must make the faith their own, but at the same time understand those who have gone before them.

Some do not have biological children but God blesses them with a work that they can pass on to. Eli fails to pass on to sons his office. But as he grows dim in his old age, he will pass the work down to Samuel.

C. Samuel Does Not Know the Voice of God (Verses 4-9)

Samuel does not know God, nor does he know the Word of the Lord. Those two things are not exactly the same. But God reveals himself to us through his Word. The scripture forbids us to have idols. We do not have a idols not because an artist might not get the statue right, but because God has his own way to let us know who he is. It does not originate with man. It is his Word. He has revealed himself by what he has done in creation and in providence. He has revealed himself in the person and work of Christ on the cross. He has revealed himself in his written word the Bible. Samuel did not know God, though he worked in God's house every day.

Though he does not know God, this is not the same thing as Eli's sons who do not know God and blatantly evil about it. Samuel is not neutral or sinless, but he has not had the transforming experience knowing God. His mother knew God. He is working in the house of God, where people come to worship the maker of heaven and earth. We often like to think we are neutral when arrive in this life. But our righteousness is not one that comes from ourselves. It never has and never will. Our righteousness is a dependent one. If we are properly nourished, it is because we are dependent upon food that comes from plants or animals. Our whole of life is a state of dependency. We can not live unless we breath, each breath means we are dependent upon our environment constantly for life, one breath at a time. Likewise our righteousness is one that does not flow from ourself, but it flows from the one who created the universe.

So our natural state is that of need. This is true when it comes to righteousness. Righteousness is a right standing before God. We need God to make us righteous. We are also in a state of need when it comes to ministry. We are dependent upon God to give us gifts, upon God send the Teacher the Holy Spirit. We are dependent upon God to help us use our gifts. We are dependent upon others to help us refine our gifts for ministry. Samuel begins his ministry here with spurts and starts. He is being given the Word of God and he does not even realize what is going on.

Someone suggested one time that when I preach here that I simply use a sermon that I have preached before I came here. There are a couple of reasons that I could not do that. I had my own spurts and starts when I began to preach. As a youth I attended a church that was very encouraging to young men who wanted to enter the ministry. Often even as a teen, I was give opportunities to preach in a pulpit during Youth Sunday. Between my Freshman and Sophomore year in college I started preaching each Sunday as a supply preacher. That meant I was not an ordained preacher but I was all they could get. To get to the church I had to drive an hour and a half to a small church near Sarcoxie, Missouri. There were only about ten people there on a given Sunday. We did not do much for hymns and so I would preach for an hour. I would preach way too long. The next summer I started preaching at a little church near my home town, Phillipsburg, Missouri. There I preached the best I could with a lot of really bad sermons. But the people were good to let me try my gifts. I had great hopes and dreams and the opportunities to see a thriving, growing church were just not realistic. It was a small town of about 170 people and six churches. Given some really bad preaching and not a lot of prospects of new members, I was frustrated. There in Phillipsburg I would preach way too harsh.

What went right? I was reading the Bible, I was praying and I was learning the things of God. I was sharing what God was teaching me with others. God confirmed my teaching gifts. I had a lot of very generous people encouraging me in pursuit of my goal of becoming a pastor.

What went wrong? I think I was enthusiastic about the things of God and I became prideful in what I had learned. When people were generous with me and said kind things to me, I felt like I knew it all. I wanted to not only preach the Word of God but preach it better than everyone else. In short I became full of myself.

God has taken me through several deserts in my pursuit of his calling on my life. Some periods where I felt like I had sinned and would never be in his favor again. In other times I felt like I was just not doing all I could to serve God.

Way back there in Sarcoxie, Missouri one the teachers gave a Sunday School lesson. She talked about a missionary who trained in college to do mission work. She applied to the mission fields but she found no opportunities. The situation became draining because she waited so long after graduation to find a position on the mission field. Finally a young man asked her to marry her. She went to a Pastor Brantley and asked what she should do. Should she turn the young man down and continue to look for a position with the missions board or marry the young man. Pastor Brantley said that she should exercise her gifts where God had put her. If she desired to do so, then she marry this young man. (I assume he was a fellow believer.) Then if she had used her training and used her gifts in a faithful way, she would be a missionary regardless of her formal position.

The application here is that we often learn to minister for the Lord by doing acts of service. We may not do them perfectly at first. We may not be the best at it. But God will use our humble service if we are open to hearing his call.

D.Samuel Receives The Word of the Lord Rebuking His Teacher (Verses 10-14)

The Word of the Lord was not all that original. It was merely confirming and expanding what an unknown prophet said at some point before. Why would God give Samuel a message that had been spoken before? There are a couple of answers to that question. One is that we often need to hear the Word of the Lord repeated. It is common to the human condition to need to hear a concept multiple times in order to understand it. We need to ponder an idea in order to embrace it. Two Samuel needs to take small steps in his initial ministry. Most children to do not simply start out their movements by running. Usually they crawl, then they walk and finally they run. One of our daughters started her movements out by rolling instead of crawling but it got the job done. I have also heard of children who sort of skip the walk stage and start out with a little trot instead of a walk. But most of us need to go through the natural progression to reach maturity. So God starts Samuel out with a simple message in order to let him speak it. It was a simple message but it was one that took courage to deliver.

Application: If you are a Sunday School teacher, youth leader, a small group leader, or a parent, do not attempt to come up with esoteric or new teachings all the time. Stick the basics. Repeat the basics often. People need the basics. A good coach drills his team in the basics all the time. A good Sunday School teacher of the Word of the Lord also repeats the basics of the faith. We should never tire of hearing the gospel. We should never tire of hearing the God's grace is large enough to cover all my sin. We should never tire to hear that Jesus died for me.

E. Samuel Tells Eli The Word of The Lord (Verses 15-18)

Now Eli has the God-give right do what many of you have been dreaming for years. He gets to tell his boss off. Come now let's hear it for telling the boss off. Well, that is not exactly what is going on here. The message he has is not one that would be exactly popular. He is going to tell Eli that judgment is coming. So he is afraid to tell speak the message that God has given him.

I remember a few years back I had eye surgery. The doctor told me that my eyes would be sensitive to bright light for a few weeks. He gave me these sunglasses that did not especially accent my best features. In other words, they were UGLY. As he handed me the glasses he said, “The good thing about these glasses is that they work with your existing prescription glasses”. I'm not sure there was a way for Samuel to put a positive spin on the message God had given. I can just imagine Samuel trying to think of a way to use the phrase, "the good thing about this coming judgment is......” It just does not work. If we as God's people speak the Word of the Lord today, it is often something that is not what we would like to deliver. And we should put a positive spin on things when appropriate. But courage to deliver bad news is as important as enthusiasm to deliver good news is a part of the job description.

We must have the courage to deliver bad news as well as bring the good news. We need to be willing to suffer for the message we bring. Now I'm not talking about being in your face rude or harsh with people.

F. Samuel Grows as a Prophet (Verses 19-20)

As we pointed out earlier, here Samuel's growth is in contrast to Eli's decline. Samuel's growth though comes through the ministry of Eli. And Samuel's growth is a positive extension of Eli's ministry while Eli's sons are a negative extension of Eli's ministry.

When this passage says that Samuel was known from Dan to Beersheba it is really talking about a national recognition of Samuel gifts as a prophet. This would not be the area allocated to the tribe Dan in the West-central part of Israel, the location of modern day Tel Aviv. Dan was a city in the far North of Israel. So the phrase refers would be somewhat analogous for us say from Augusta, Maine to Maine, Florida.
How do we grow in the Lord? First of all it is all of grace and not something we can achieve without God doing it. Like a garden, you can set up the right conditions but neither you nor I make the plants in our garden grow. That is God work.
How do we refine our gifts of ministry? Well, first we must understand what our gifts are. How do we do that? More often that not, practically speaking, we do that the same way you find out whether some new clothes fit. You see a ministry you suppose might be a fit and you try it on. For instance, if you don't know your spiritual gift but someone asks you to teach a small group study, you might try it on.

G. The Word of the Lord Comes to Samuel (Verse 21)

A lot of times we see the Word of the Lord as answering things that are particular and temporal and the Word answers more often than not issues that are transcendent and eternal. What do I mean by particular and temporal? When I am driving home from church today do I need to ask God what speed to drive. This is a particular thing that I am asking for a this one time. In reality, if I look at just a few principles, I know I'm supposed to obey the powers over me and they have posted a sign on Aquahart Drive saying that I can drive 30 MPH. So if I stop to pray to ask that, will I get an answer. Should I ask God to tell me what color of socks to wear? I suppose that is how God could deal with us. Though his speaking to mankind is a multidimensional, he speaks in the person of Jesus Christ. He speaks in his creation. But when it comes to revelation, he has spoken clearly in his Word the Bible. When we are looking for answers to the questions of life, we need to search out the Word of God for the answers. How is it right to ask God for a particular answer of something temporal when he has given an eternal answer to his people. What I'm saying is that we should count the Bible as precious. We should count that the Word of God has answer in it for this generation.

We live in a day and age where the Word of God is abundant. Living in the time of Samuel, the Word of God had passed from being rare to being common in his servant Samuel. This closes the loop in the story here. The Word of God is no longer rare, but present with the people of God at God's house. The Word of God is not rare in our day and age. We all have Bibles if we want them. We must not neglect what God has given us. We should not be foolish in partaking of the Word of God when it is abundant.

In conclusion, the Word of God is precious. It is powerful to change not only the hearers but also the messenger too. Each one of you here, if you are a believer, have a ministry to offer. For some of you it is simply sharing over a cup of coffee with your friend what God is saying to you when you read Bible. For others it is giving a cup of cool water to the thirsty in Jesus name. Still other should be sharing the Word of God by teaching Sunday School, a small group Bible Study or perhaps the to the youth of our church. I wonder if you will like Samuel say, “here am I”. This is the same language used in the call of Isaiah 6. Isaiah saw the need to declare the Word of God. His reply was here am I Lord, send me. Samuel was called by God. He said, “Here am I Lord”. I am wondering if anyone here is sensing a call. Perhaps your call is to have that cup of coffee with a friend or co-worker and share what God is doing. Will you say “Here am I Lord”. Perhaps it is to lead our youth ministry. If God is calling you, will you say, “Here am I”.