July 28, 2005

Words mean things--so do grammar, culture, and context

The need for proper biblical hermeneutics

James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries has posted an article on the need for consistent Protestant biblical hermeneutics. Written by White's friend, Pastor John Samson, emphasizes the absolute necessity of proper biblical interpretation, not only for pastors, but also for all "lay" persons:

We would be horrified to hear of a surgeon who had just two weeks of training operating on someone's brain. As important as brain surgery is, I believe the job of the Gospel preacher is far more important. Eternal souls hang in the balance, and great care and attention is needed to ensure that a teaching is sound, healthy and accurate. A teacher of the Bible needs rigorous training in the science of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics). But that's not just true for the preacher; everyone of us needs to know how to gain an accurate knowledge of the Word of God.

Some people think that if God wants you to know something about the Bible, He will just reveal it to you supernaturally. Unfortunately, that's how a lot of cults get started. 1 Tim 5:17 says, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." Correct interpretation requires work; sometimes, a great deal of hard work...."

Read the complete article.

The beginning of wisdom...

I'm so glad that God has blessed me with a church (Occoquan Bible Church) that teaches its people well. Last quarter I co-taught an adult Christian education class (Sunday School) on Protestant Biblical Hermeneutics. It wasn't an easy class (for the students or the teachers), but it was a chock-full of information vital to all Christians.

When you find the time to read an excellent book on biblical interpretation, in between your reading of the new Harry Potter book and the most recent 40 Days of [Insert Target Here], get a copy of How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth. It's an outstanding book that you can understand even if, like me, you have no extended education.

May God bless your reading of His Word.

July 25, 2005

God has blessed and protected!

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
—Psalm 50:15

When God shows his grace and mercy to us, we should praise him publicly for what he has done. God has shown me a great deal of grace and mercy recently of which I have not yet spoken, so here it is:


In 2004, the company I work for told my department that it was preparing to outsource our services to India. For the next year we waited to hear more and finally on June 6 the hammer fell. A representative from our headquarters came to our local office and told us that September 6 would be our last day. In the local region, covering three states and about a dozen offices, all the people in my department would be layed off except for two ... my boss and me.

I know that I have not earned this place on my own. I've done my job and offered to help wherever I could. But so have others. I've tried to be an exemplary employee. But so have others. But God graciously chose to maintain my employment for the time being. This has removed a huge burden from my shoulders and has caused me to revel in God's mercy to undeserving sinners like me.

What a great God we serve!

July 21, 2005

Dave Hunt reviles the gospel again

Dave Hunt

Dave Hunt of The Berean Call has spent the past half decade railing against Calvinism. Although there are legitimate debates on this topic, Dave Hunt has shown a lack of scholarship and honesty in his campaign that boggles the mind. James White, founder and head of Alpha & Omega Ministries, has posted a short response to Hunt's newest book, A Calvinist's Honest Doubts Resolved by Reason and God's Amazing Grace.

If you're going to read this book (or Hunt's earlier travesty, What Love Is This?) be sure to also read The Potter's Freedom by James White. Keep checking Alpha & Omega Ministries' web site for further updates to this developing situation. I'm sure James will provide adequate response to Hunt's arguments. Arguments that bring shame and dishonor to the name of Christ.

Becoming more conservative?

Rush Limbaugh

Yahoo! Financial News reports that Rush Limbaugh is the most-listened-to radio talkshow host in New York.

Good news for Christians?

So does this news bode well for the United States? Many evangelicals will answer that question with a hearty "yes," but many evangelicals are looking for the wrong answer.

Holding to basically conservative politics, I'm pleased that conservatism has become accepted by more young people. I enjoy listening to Rush and Sean Hannity. I especially enjoy watching liberals blow a gasket when they try to debate an issue with Ann Coulter. But this is entertainment, not an answer to what troubles our nation today.

It's still the cross

Don't be fooled by the swing toward conservatism. Conservatism does not equal Christianity. The devil is subtle and can throw the unsuspecting Christian off his guard. And that is what is happening right now. Many evangelicals are kicking back, smiling, and saying, "We did it. We voted the right man into office. We're getting a new conservative Supreme Court justice. Life is good." But conservatism in politics is not the reason Jesus died. He died to save sinners. And we have been set apart for God's kingdom with the mandate to tell the world the good news of Christ's shed blood for the remission of sins.

For some reason, I hear many evangelical and fundamentalist preachers decrying the moral terpitude of our nation and encouraging their congregations to "get out the vote." But I don't hear many eschewing politics and running hard after evangelism.

A church that has taken a strong stand on the gospel message and is de-emphasizing political things exists right in our nation's capitol. Capitol Hill Baptist Church has even removed the American flag from their platform because patriotism is not the point of a gathering of believers for worship. Would to God that more churches would take the gospel seriously and call their communities to repentance rather than encouraging activism in politics.

July 20, 2005

Marketing for ItchingEaritis

Phil Johnson (PyroManiac Blog) has posted an important observation regarding the church growth fad. His rejection of such popular church growth books as The Purpose Driven Church is sound and not laced with the emotionalism of many such rejections.

Johnson also takes issue with George Barna's book Marketing the Church, regarding which he asks:

Do you think [the apostle Paul] would have agreed with Barna, who said we must adapt our message to the preferences of the audience, or risk having them reject the message?

We evangelicals need to wake up to this problem. The “religious right” derided the Clinton administration for its dependence on polling data when determining its course of action, but we fall prey to the polling data of our own congregations when determining what programs we should offer and what should be randomly taught from the contents of holy scripture. It's a travesty.

How free is your freedom?

R.C. Sproul writes an outstanding article about the current state of evangelicalism in the realm of evangelistic outreach. He takes issue with the acceptance of the semi-pelagian view that man must exercise his free will to accept Christ.

Give it a read. It's worth your time.

Proof text messaging

The delightful Sacred Sandwich, a Reformed Christian satirical e-newsletter has a deliciously funny piece about text messaging with cell phones.

July 19, 2005

Serving or being served?

We Christians are told regularly that we need to serve God, whether it is our vocation or "volunteer."

Allow me to challenge the accepted view of this. We should serve God, but in the way that God demands. The thing missing from this, however, is that we need to let God serve us. The Son of Man came not to be served (Mark 10:45). The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything (Acts 17:24-25).

How do we let God get the glory of serving us even in activities in which we are serving God? We pray and acknowledge the fact that we can do nothing without Christ. We ask for God's help when we need it (always). We ask God to use us to further His kingdom and to give us the competance to successfully accomplish the task at hand. This brings glory to God and keeps us from thinking that we have something to offer to God.

To God be the glory in heaven and earth forever.

If you are interested in pursuing this concept further, read chapter 6 of Desiring God by John Piper.

Our God Is In Control


y father is co-authoring a book on evanglism. He has honored me by asking that I edit his portion of the manuscript. What I've read so far is excellent. I look forward to seeing the finished product.

What really jumps out at the contemporary reader from this manual is the solid theology needed for a true evangelistic outreach. Postmodern man vilifies those he disagrees with. In the arena of evangelism, this has mainly been done by those who reject God's total sovereignty over his creation. The line goes that Calvinists don’t believe in evangelism because they think God is going to handle everything and man doesn't have a choice. Not only is this wrong, but it is a complete misrepresentation of Calvinistic belief.

We Calvinists believe that man has a choice—he has always had a choice. The problem is that man will choose the wrong thing every time. Only when God has removed man's “heart of stone” and replaced it with a “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19) will man seek fellowship with God through repentance of his sins and trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. (Notice I didn't say the potential saving work—Jesus’ death on the cross did not create a potential for salvation; it completely paid the penalty for the sins of those who would believe.)

I am very proud of my father and of his strong stand on the truth of God’s Word. My father is the most evangelistic man I know and he is a 5-point Calvinist. In fact, by John Piper’s definition, my father is a 7-point Calvinist. The straw man is exposed and has been burned up by the pragmatic proof. If we believe that God is in complete control of his creation, not only will we share the gospel to all, but we can rest in the assurance that he will draw to him those for whom Christ has shed his blood. Our part: evangelize the world. God’s part: save the elect. We don’t need to do God’s part, nor can we. But we must do ours.

July 14, 2005

Words mean things!

Watching the UK-based coverage of the suicide (read "homicide") bombings has been frustrating and frightening. On the day the attacks were perpetrated, the reporters freely used the word "terrorists" to describe the attackers. Since then the word has been pointedly absent from their reporting. Is this some sort of bizarro political correctness run rampant?

If our world doesn't wake up to what sort of enemy we face, we are in for serious trouble. This is a fight for our lives and we're busy trying to give our attacker a positive self-image.

J. Vernon McGee pointed out more than a decade ago that most theologians don't see the United States anywhere in End Times prophecy. That means that either the US will cease to exist or, at the very least, will no longer be a superpower. I'm hoping for the latter, because I love this country and want to see it perpetuated. But I fear the former if we go the route of the BBC reporters, which we are doing to a great degree. Our enemy is radical Islam. I think we should be very clear on the fact that this is not a faction of the normally peaceful religion—it is the orthodox (if that word can be used in this setting) version of Islam. Those who follow Muslim teachings strictly are the ones we consider "radical." And this religion is spreading like wildfire. And, like wildfire, it is destroying everything in its path.

It's time to recognize the wildfire and put it out. As Smokey the Bear says: Only you can prevent wildfires.

God of wonders!

Natural Bridge, Virginia

My family spent this past weekend at Natural Bridge, Virginia. What a wonderful place. We were there for a family retreat and seminar, but the local sights were what wowed us.


The park makes an awe-inspiring presentation each day during the warmer months. It's called simply "Creation." The audience is seated under the Natural Bridge and listens to an orator read the biblical account of the six days of creation from Genesis. Each day of creation is depicted by a classical music piece and a light show. The lights are directed at and around the bridge and the effect is stunning.

The immense size of the bridge contributes to the effectiveness of this amazing presentation. In the photo above, you can see two small white dots at the bottom left of the bridge. Those are the shirts of two people walking the path under the bridge. It is gargantuan.

The show is introduced not by a vague reference to the "theory" of creation or by saying that this is something written in the Bible and some folks believe it, but by the statement, "The world was created in six days. This presentation is a musical and visual depiction of the biblical account of that creation."

Natural Bridge during a presentation of "Creation"

If you're able to see this show, make a point not to miss it. It is wonderful.

July 07, 2005

One year down - and still losing

Today is my 1-year checkup ... 1 year since my weight loss surgery. I have lost 271 pounds and feel great. Some people have even said I look great, although I think they're just buttering me up. God has been gracious and brought me through this in an amazing way. Now I need to stay on top of things so I don't regain any weight. In fact, I'd like to lose another 30 pounds or so. We'll see what the doctor says today.

I'd like to thank God for:

  • Dr. Halmi, the best surgeon in history
  • Dr. Halmi's amazingly wonderful staff
  • Occoquan Bible Church
  • My wife Kim (pictured with me at the top right side of this page)
  • My son David (who took the above mentioned profile picture)
  • My extended family and friends who have provided great support

Without these people this would have been a very difficult process, but with these people it has been an exciting and mostly enjoyable road. Thanks to all of you.