Friday, November 30, 2007
G.K. Beale has written the following helpful article dealing with the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. In the article he seeks to understand how Paul is using the example of Pharaoh in Romans 9. In specific Beale's aim in this article is to help answer the following four questions (Click Here to read the article) :
(1) Who is the ultimate cause of Pharaoh's hardening?
(2) If the hardening is at all associated with God, is it an unconditional or conditional judgment with respect to Pharaoh's sin?
(3) When Paul refutes the idea that God is unjust (v 14) in rejecting Esau rather than Jacob before they were born (vv 10-13), does he give an understandable explanation for this refutation (Gk. "gar," v 17), or does he merely refute the idea without offering any rationale in defense of God's rejection?
(4) Does the hardening involve God's dealing with certain individuals or nations only on the plane of history or does it have reference to a general principle concerning God's eternal rejection of man from
Thursday, November 29, 2007
C.J. Mahaney was recently asked how he seeks to build godly masculinity into his teenage son. He gave the following very helpful response:
What immediately comes to mind is that I’m trying to build into him an appreciation for, and cultivation of, humility and servanthood. I want that to define true masculinity for him. I believe this is true greatness in the eyes of God. This is not true greatness in the eyes of this world and therefore there is much discussion about what the world honors and celebrates, and what God honors and celebrates, and what I as a father honor and celebrate.
For example, Chad just finished soccer season. My emphasis with him in preparation before a game, my observation of Chad during a game, my evaluation of Chad after a game is (I hope) theologically informed. My accent is not on skill. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand. I obviously believe there is a place for the development of skill. But my accent is upon character. Therefore the goals scored by my son are not the category that is preeminent in either my preparation, observation or evaluation. You will not find me assigning undue importance or celebrating goals scored and leaving the impression this is preeminent.
Actually, the highlight for me this year came in their semi-final game when I guess one of the referees did not show up and the particular young man who was assigned to mark [guard] Chad was twice his size! He did mark Chad. He actually mugged Chad! And because the referee was following the action he wasn’t always able to perceive it. Chad ended up bloody mouth, bloody nose, and a number of other things happened in the game. But Chad never retaliated. Actually we celebrated that on the way home. His blood was on his shirt. I said, “This is great, son! You bring your dad joy. There is a tear in your dad’s eye. That’s outstanding. Blood on your jersey! Blood in your mouth! Blood in your nose!” During the game I had a parent approach me about whether I was going to intervene at some point. Even other parents wanted to intervene.
I told Chad the way he demonstrated self-control is an evidence of God’s grace in his life. And that brings your dad more joy than any victory or any goal.
As a forward, if Chad scores a goal, the celebration is not about his scoring a goal. It’s about expressing appreciation for his team, those who play defense (who normally are not appreciated) and those who, through their passing, made it possible for him to be positioned. So we are going to do what I call a “divine reversal.” In our culture it would be the individual who scored that attention would be directed. By God’s grace I want to reverse that process and honor those who made it possible for him to do that. If Chad knocks someone down and picks them up, that he did not complain about any call by the referee, that’s what I’ll celebrate afterwards. After the game these are what I want to draw attention to and celebrate.
That kind of discernment we want to be imparting as we watch sports. Our kids are always studying us. If you are watching the football team of your choice, the world, culture, and announcers are not theologically informed and will not be drawing attention to these things.
For example, let’s say a particular receiver for the Dallas Cowboys (to choose some random player) or a particular special team player makes a tackle. Whenever there is some expression of self-glorification (this would apply to the Redskins as well), we want to humbly criticize that and not identify with it. And whenever there is an expression of humility, we want to draw our child’s attention to that. So many of these moments are teaching moments, and if we are not poised and prepared and theologically informed, countless teaching moments will pass that could have been seized to make a difference in the lives of our children.
(HT: Shepherd's Blog via JT)
I don't know what to think about this, but the most viewed post on my blog in its seven month history is the post on my NBA predictions. In light of this, I have decided to post once again on the NBA. Anyways, enough about my rationale. This weeks top 5 NBA teams are as follows:
5. Utah Jazz--(4-1 in their last five and 11-5 overall). With recent victories over New Orleans and Detroit the Jazz are starting to show that last season was no fluke. Ronnie Brewer is having a fantastic 2nd year in the league. Jerry Sloan has done another great job of coaching by getting Kirilenko more involved in the Jazz's offense. This definitely helps them on the floor, but more importantly deals with what could have been (and still might become) a locker room nightmare.
4. Phoenix Suns--(3-2 in their last five and 11-4 overall). Steve Nash is playing out of his mind. He is shooting better than 55% from the field scoring almost 20 points per game and averaging almost 11 assists per contest. Don't be surprised if Nash wins his fourth straight, I mean his 3rd MVP.
3. Boston Celtics--(3-2 in their last five and 11-2 overall) I still think the Celtics are the team to beat in the East. But Orlando's recent victory over them and the lack of production from the bench puts the Celtics in at #3.
2. Orlando Magic--(4-1 in their last five and 14-3 overall). Dwight Howard's numbers on the year: 23.5 points 14.5 rebounds 2.7 blocks 61.2 fg %
1. San Antonio Spurs--(4-1 in their last five and 13-3 overall) Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker are showing everyone in the league why they are still the team to beat. Not to mention the fact that Brent Barry is shooting over 50% from 3-point range. They may not end up with the best record in the league, but this team was built for the playoffs.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Here are a few more quotes from "The Excellency of Christ":
"And has not Christ been made low enough for you? and has he not suffered enough? Would you not only have him possess experience of the afflictions you now suffer, but also of that amazing wrath that you fear hereafter, that he may know how to pity those that are in danger, and afraid of it? This Christ has had experience of, which experience gave him a greater sense of it, a thousand times, than you have, or any man living has. Would you have your Savior to be one who is near to God, that so his mediation might be prevalent with him? And can you desire him to be nearer to God than Christ is, who is his only-begotten Son, of the same essence with the Father? And would you not only have him near to God, but also near to you, that you may have free access to him? And would you have him nearer to you than to be in the same nature, united to you by a spiritual union, so close as to be fitly represented by the union of the wife to the husband, of the branch to the vine, of the member to the head; yea, so as to be one spirit? For so he will be united to you, if you accept of him."
"Would you have a Savior that has given some great and extraordinary testimony of mercy and love to sinners, by something that he has done, as well as by what he says? And can you think or conceive of greater things than Christ has done? Was it not a great thing for him, who was God, to take upon him human nature: to be not only God, but man thenceforward to all eternity? But would you look upon suffering for sinners to be a yet greater testimony of love to sinners, than merely doing, though it be ever so extraordinary a thing that he has done? And would you desire that a Savior should suffer more than Christ has suffered for sinners? What is there wanting, or what would you add if you could, to make him more fit to be your Savior?"
"Would you choose for a friend a person of great dignity? It is a thing taking with men to have those for their friends who are much above them; because they look upon themselves honored by the friendship of such. Thus, how taking would it be with an inferior maid to be the object of the dear love of some great and excellent prince. But Christ is infinitely above you, and above all the princes of the earth; for he is the King of kings. So honorable a person as this offers himself to you, in the nearest and dearest friendship."
"We are to consider, that though Christ is greatly exalted, yet he is exalted, not as a private person for himself only, but as his people's head; he is exalted in their name, and upon their account, as the first fruits, and as representing the whole harvest. He is not exalted that he may be at a greater distance from them, but that they may be exalted with him. The exaltation and honor of the head is not to make a greater distance between the head and the members, but the members have the same relation and union with the head they had before, and are honored with the head; and instead of the distance being greater, the union shall be nearer and more perfect. When believers get to heaven, Christ will conform them to himself, as he is set down in his Father's throne, so they shall sit down with him on his throne, and shall in their measure be made like him."
I recently re-read one of my favorite sermons by Jonathan Edwards entitled "The Excellency of Christ." For those of you who have not read much of Edwards this is a great place to start. Edwards builds his entire premise on the fact that Jesus is referred to in Revelation 5:5-6 as both the LION of the tribe of Judah and the LAMB that had been slain. He seeks to demonstrate, in a most worshipful way, from this example that "there is a conjunction of such excellencies in Christ, as, in our manner of conceiving, are very diverse one from another." In other words, Edwards explores such things as how "infinite majesty" and "transcendent meekness" come together in Jesus Christ. Below are some of the quotes that I found extremely helpful:
"Such a conjunction of infinite highness and low condescension, in the same person, is admirable. We see, by manifold instances, what a tendency a high station has in men, to make them to be of a quite contrary disposition. If one worm be a little exalted above another, by having more dust, or a bigger dunghill, how much does he make of himself! What a distance does he keep from those that are below him! And a little condescension is what he expects should be made much of, and greatly acknowledged. Christ condescends to wash our feet; but how would great men, (or rather the bigger worms,) account themselves debased by acts of far less condescension!"
"The strict justice of God, and even his revenging justice, and that against the sins of men, never was so gloriously manifested. as in Christ. He manifested an infinite regard to the attribute of God's justice, in that, when he had a mind to save sinners, he was willing to undergo such extreme sufferings, rather than that their salvation should be to the injury of the honor of that attribute. And as he is the Judge of the world, he doth himself exercise strict justice, he will not clear the guilty, nor at all acquit the wicked in judgment. Yet how wonderfully is infinite mercy towards sinners displayed in him! And what glorious and ineffable grace and love have been and are exercised by him, towards sinful men! Though he be the just Judge of a sinful world, yet he is also the Savior of the world. Though he be a consuming fire to sin, yet he is the light and life of sinners."
"What is there that you can desire should be in a Savior, that is not in Christ? Or, wherein should you desire a Savior should be otherwise than Christ is? What excellency is there wanting? What is there that is great or good; what is there that is venerable or winning; what is there that is adorable or endearing; or, what can you think of that would be encouraging, which is not to be found in the person of Christ? Would you have your Savior to be great and honorable, because you are not willing to be beholden to a mean person? And, is not Christ a person honorable enough to be worthy that you should be dependent on him? Is he not a person high enough to be appointed to so honorable a work as your salvation? Would you not only have a Savior of high degree, but would you have him, notwithstanding his exaltation and dignity, to be made also of low degree, that he might have experience of afflictions and trials, that he might learn by the things that he has suffered, to pity them that suffer and are tempted?"
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Sam Storms has written the following helpful article on the dispensational view of the kingdom of God:
"Dispensational premillennialism (hereafter DP) contends that the Bible cannot be properly understood apart from recognizing distinct periods or eras or dispensations in which the unfolding purpose of God and his relationship with mankind are revealed. All dispensationalists recognize at least three dispensations...(click here to continue reading)
Those of you who are preparing for your theology oral exams should find the following three articles on eschatology by Sam Storms helpful. (Even if you are not these articles should be helpful for those thinking through eschatological issues) Virtually all who espouse amillennialism embrace the principles articulated in our lesson on the Historic or Non-Dispensational view of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, what follows is built upon the understanding of the people of God and the kingdom as outlined in that study. A. A Definition of Amillennialism Amillennialism (hereafter cited as AM) has suffered greatly in the past because of its seeming negative character. In other words, definitions of AM have focused more upon what the view denies (namely, a personal, earthly reign of Christ) than on what it affirms. In order best to counter this negativism, the definition of AM presented here will concentrate on its fundamental affirmations concerning eschatological truth. They are as follows: (click here to continue reading)
Why does the Amillennialist reject the Premillennial interpretation of Scripture? In my own case, further study of what the NT said would happen in conjunction with the second coming/advent of Christ led me to conclude that a post-Parousia millennial reign upon an earth still under the influence of sin, corruption, and death was impossible. I will now briefly examine those texts...(Click here to continue reading)
*Note: I tentatively hold to Historic Pre-millenialism, but I think that Storms does a good job of pointing out key texts that must be worked through and is somewhat convincing.
2) The Amillenial View of the Kingdom of God
One might well argue that Daniel 9:24-27 is both the most complex and the most crucial text in either testament bearing on the subject of biblical prophecy. Its complexity is questioned only by those who have not studied it, or perhaps by those whose conclusions concerning its meaning were predetermined by unspoken theological commitments. That Daniel 9 is as crucial as I have suggested can hardly be denied. For example, dispensationalists have largely derived from Daniel 9 several of their more distinctive doctrinal and prophetic themes, among which are, (click here to continue reading)
Virtually all who espouse amillennialism embrace the principles articulated in our lesson on the Historic or Non-Dispensational view of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, what follows is built upon the understanding of the people of God and the kingdom as outlined in that study.
A. A Definition of Amillennialism
Amillennialism (hereafter cited as AM) has suffered greatly in the past because of its seeming negative character. In other words, definitions of AM have focused more upon what the view denies (namely, a personal, earthly reign of Christ) than on what it affirms. In order best to counter this negativism, the definition of AM presented here will concentrate on its fundamental affirmations concerning eschatological truth. They are as follows: (click here to continue reading)3. Daniel's 70 Weeks
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I recently ran across the following article discussing different models for business as mission: (Dr. Tokar if you have some time I would appreciate your thoughts on some possible helpful models for integrating business and mission)
"What if business is a God- created strategy to reach those in other countries who have never heard the truth? Sometimes God reveals His will by removing all other options. Such is often the case with business. Missionaries who feel called to ministries in other countries learn that they cannot go to those countries without doing business. They frequently begin by thinking of the businesses as “platforms,” excuses to receive visas, but soon learn that the more authentic they can be in their businesses, the more transparent and effective they can be in their ministries.
There are several principles I have observed in effective BAM.
The business is the ministry and it is sacred; it is not an excuse to do ministry, but a way to live among people with a common goal of producing products and services to glorify God. It provides the opportunity to expose people to the kingdom of heaven in real time and to do it with transparency and integrity.
Profits ensure sustainability and credibility. Without profits, a business cannot exist, and if it does continue to exist, people may wonder who is funding it. Profits also produce jobs and tax revenue that can be enjoyed by the host country.
Many of us have several years of business experience. We catch a vision for the world and are anxious to know what to do. Here is a principle of life: God prepares us perfectly for what He has next for us. Every experience and every job up until this point has been preparation for the next assignment.
As you consider these things, it might be helpful to read about four models of business that are being used successfully in closed-access countries today. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but simply four models that are working. Two of them, the factory and the outsourcing, require a market for products outside the host country. The other two, franchise and micro-economic development, depend on sales within the host country. Opportunities abound for Westerners to start such businesses or to be major parts.
There are a number of these in operation that are pure business as mission models. Most often the products are produced overseas and marketed in the United States. Having a good market for the products produced is critical to the factory being profitable and sustainable. It is helpful to have a niche market, a specialized product that does not have a great deal of competition. Some examples of goods produced are painted furniture, teak outdoor furniture, glass products, leather goods, lamps, and accessories. Keys to this model working well are low labor costs in the sourced country and bypassing middlemen as products go to market in the United States. In this model, we have seen many employees, suppliers, and customers come to Christ. In addition, when the factory becomes a transformational influence on the community—meeting needs, taking care of beggars and orphans—it gains great favor with government authorities.
In this model, the worldwide labor market is tapped by providing services in a host country that are useful and cost-effective due to labor rates. Some examples are computer-aided design work for architectural firms, software development, and the production of agricultural products like sun-dried tomatoes.
In this model, the goods are sold in-country and, frequently, many are employed. In one version of this model, believers are employed, providing them income and influence as they interact with customers. It is a scalable model that has the potential to employ thousands of people who can begin franchises, often with very small investments. Ideas include: convenient copy kiosks, sales of books, small restaurants, or other goods or services that are needed. Managers provide the spiritual and business mentoring.
There are two typical BAM models of this. In one case, micro loans are provided to believers to support them, give them a reason to relocate to unreached places, and integrate them into society very quickly. In another model, a believer becomes the project administrator, making loans and mentoring a group of unbelievers —meeting economic needs while building close relationships. Successful programs include carefully selecting participants for micro-enterprises that meet unmet needs and providing these participants with ongoing mentoring relationships.
So how has God been preparing you? Next steps: read more about some of these models and visit some field operations to explore more."
(HT: Business As Mission Network)
Friday, November 23, 2007
Hans Madueme offers the following thoughtful reflection on the deceptiveness of sin:
"Something is rotten in the state of the world. We do not need as witnesses the Wall Street Journal or BBC News. Just look around. We live in a dark, painful, and unjust world. Ethnic minorities are victimized. Women are second-class citizens. Children are pawns in evil chess games, now sex slaves, now victims of million-dollar advertising shenanigans. We feel the pain of brokenness in our homes and in our neighborhoods; bitter anguish permeates our world. We try to placate our cries with Zoloft or the comforts of a cigarette and one more strong drink. Our world is morbidly obese, stuffed up with the calories of injustice and unrighteousness: need we mention Auschwitz, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur? The poor remain oppressed, the foreigner denied justice. Once upon a time, people may have enjoyed happiness, peace, and justice, but for many today, misery is an intimate companion." (Click here to read the whole thing)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Happy Thanksgiving! May the good news of the glory of the happy God fill you with overwhelming delight today as you contemplate the many blessings in your life.
Blog Update: Last week I was out of town at two conferences in San Diego (The Evangelical Theological Society and the Society for Biblical Literature) and did not update the blog. I am now back in Phoenix and Lord willing, plan on posting more regularly over the next few weeks.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sam Storms recently wrote the following article offering some reflections on the life of John Wimber:
"Doin' the Stuff" (Remembering John Wimber)
Nov 17, 2007
John Wimber, born on February 25, 1934, in Kirksville, Missouri, died ten years ago today (November 17, 1997). Some of you may never have heard of him, but I doubt that you have attended a corporate worship service in the past twenty years that doesn’t reflect his influence.
Wimber led a colorful life, to say the least, although it isn’t my purpose here to write a biographical history. Rather, I want to comment briefly, yet very personally, on the great impact he had on my life and a bit on...(Click here to read the rest)
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Barrett, C. K. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (ICC, rev.), 2 vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1994-1998. (Barrett is a committed Methodist and addresses issues from that perspective)
*Bock, Darrell L. Acts (BECNT). G.R.: Baker, 2007. (Darrell Bock is Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has written an excellent 2-Volume commentary on the Gospel of Luke. This volume on Acts should be excellent as well)
Bruce, F. F. The Book of the Acts (NICNT). G.R.: Eerdmans, 1988. (Anything Bruce has written is worth purchasing.)
Fitzmyer, J. A. The Acts of the Apostles (AB). New York: Doubleday, 1998. (Fitzmyer is a prolific commentator who writes from a Catholic perspective. He is a great scholar and one I would have enjoyed studying under)
Marshall, I. H. The Acts of the Apostles (TNTC, rev.). G.R.: Eerdmans, 1980. (Marshall has written some excellent commentaries from an Arminian perspective.)
Polhill, J. B. Acts (NAC). Nashville: Broadman, 1992.
*Witherington, B. The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. G.R.: Eerdmans, 1998.
*Fernando, A. Acts (NIVAC). G.R.: Zondervan, 1998. (This commentary is the NIV application commentary series so it is not super technical. This would be a great resource to consult if you are preaching through ACTS.)
Green, M. Thirty Years that Changed the World: The Book of Acts for Today. G.R.: Eerdmans, 2004.
Larkin, W. J. Acts (NTC). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Due to the pressure from a number of readers--to be true to the description of my blog and post some about sports-- I have decided to post something about sports. Below are my predictions for the NBA season. Feel free to disagree in the comments section.
The Top 10
1. San Antonio Spurs--(4-1) This is the team to beat. They have three of the hardest players to defend in the NBA leading the charge. Predicted finish 61-21.
2. Dallas Mavericks-- (4-1) They know that anything short of game 7 of the Western Conference Finals is failure. In light of this, they will pace themselves this season. Predicted finish 61-21.
3. Boston Celtics--(3-0) Its too early to tell just how good Pierce, Garnett, and Allen can be. The key is the supporting cast. They are the favorite to make the finals from the east. Predicted finish 57-25.
4. Phoenix Suns--(3-2) The Suns lost Kurt Thomas in the offseason and through five games this is looking like a huge mistake. Stoudamire has been hurt but in the games he has played his defense is putrid at best. Come playoff time unless Stoudamire can defend Duncan the Suns won't advance past the Western Conference Finals. Predicted finish (57-25).
5. Houston Rockets (4-1)--Yao and McGrady look prime to make a deep playoff run (which for McGrady means the second round). Predicted finish 55-27.
6. Detroit Pistons (3-1)--The Pistons get the best out of the talent they have. Look for them to make the Eastern Conference Finals. Predicted finish: 54-28.
7. Los Angeles Lakers(2-2)--If you have read this far you should be shocked that the Lakers are ranked this high. I think the Lakers will make a couple of mid-season acquisitions that will land them the 5 seed in the west. Predicted finish: 49-33.
8. Denver Nuggets (2-3)--A.I. and Carmello will get it together and the Nuggets will be the 6th seed in the West. Predicted finish: 47-25.
9. Miami Heat (0-4)--Shaq still has some diesel left in the tank and once Wade gets back the Heat will play inspired basketball. Predicted finish: 45-37.
10. Atlanta Hawks (2-2)--This will be the suprise team of the year. Already they have victories over Dallas and Phoenix. (Not to mention a 1 point loss to the Pistons). Predicted finish: 45-37.
Chicago Bulls (0-4)--Ben Wallace is a year older and they still need some offensive help down low. They should make the playoffs, but don't expect them to get past the second round unless they pick up Kobe. Predicted finish 44-38.
Utah Jazz--Kirilenko's attitude is a virus that could destroy the season. Williams and Boozer will play extremely well and both make the All-star team. Ronnie Brewer will probably win the most improved player award, but Kirilenko will weigh down the team needlessly. Predicted finish: (45-37).
Is pride a sign of strength? Is humility a trait of the weak? Is it possible to truly be humble and contend for the faith at the same time? Listen to Mark Driscoll address what he calls the biggest failure in his eleven years of pastoral ministry:
Below is an excerpt from the manuscript of Mark's public repentance related to pride:
"I believe that humility is the great omission and failure in my eleven years of preaching. I believe that this is my greatest oversight both in my example and in my instruction.I therefore do not claim to be humble. I do not claim to have been humble. I am convicted of my pride, and I am a man who is by God’s grace pursuing humility. So in many ways this is a sermon that I’m preaching at myself, this is a sermon you are welcomed to listen in on as I preach to myself.But I truly believe that were there one thing I could do over in the history of Mars Hill it would be in my attitude and in my actions and in my words to not only emphasize sound doctrine, encourage in strength and commitment and conviction but, to add in addition to that, humility as a virtue..."click here to read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The results from the presidential poll conducted on this blog are in. Check them out below and feel free to leave a message in the comment section.
*Note the percentages have been corrected. Thanks to "anonymous" for pointing out that the percentages were wrong.
Mike Huckabee 25%
Barak Obama 21%
Mitt Romney 15%
Ron Paul 10%
John McCain 8%
Hillary Clinton 4%
John Edwards 4%
Rudy Giuliani 4%
Dennis Kucinich 0%
Joseph Biden 0%
Monday, November 5, 2007
Jerry Bridges discusses how the gospel relates to our sanctification in the following article. Below is an excerpt from the article:
"So I learned that Christians need to hear the gospel all of their lives because it is the gospel that continues to remind us that our day-to-day acceptance with the Father is not based on what we do for God but upon what Christ did for us in his sinless life and sin- bearing death. I began to see that we stand before God today as righteous as we ever will be, even in heaven, because he has clothed us with the righteousness of his Son. Therefore, I don't have to perform to be accepted by God. Now I am free to obey him and serve him because I am already accepted in Christ (see Rom. 8:1). My driving motivation now is not guilt but gratitude." Cick here to read the whole thing