Monday, October 31, 2005

While waiting on trick or treaters to arrive tonight, I watched a little of a show on Stonehenge. At one point, the commentator asked what possessed these priest\kings to build this big monument? I laughed out loud. Every priest\preacher\pastor, whatever title you wish to use, wants to build. You cannot attend a Baptist church for long at all without a building program of some sort going on. I have attended the same church for a fairly long time. We have remodled our sanctuary at least twice during that time, renovated the basement under the sanctuary for Sunday School class rooms, remodled our other 3 buildings to various degrees, bought and renovated a grocery store, floated a 7.2M bond issue, finally paid off the bonds, and are now building a "connector building" between the sanctuary building and the education buildings. The next phase is for a new building to go up in the parking lot, which is supposed to result in the demolition of two oldest buildings.

We have had ups and downs in membership and attendance over the years. Membership is largely irrelevant in Baptist churches since many members never attend. Average attendance is a better measure, and our average attendance now in 2005 is almost the same, and may be a little less, than our attendance in 1977 when I returned from law school to re-join the church. I'm not sure what all that may mean, but it definitely means that all the building and remodeling had no lasting effect on attendance. So, you cannot say, if you build it they will come. We did. They didn't. Or at least they did not stay.

There is not much attendance at Stonehenge either.

So why did the priests build? The guy on the tv show said it was built to unify people and give them something bigger to think about than war and dissension. I think they wanted a monument. I don't know if it was a monument to themselves or to their deity, but it was a big monument they intended to make an impression for a long time. It is typical of monuments that the construction lasted longer than the memory of its purpose.

There is a story that goes around my church that the pastor that built the sanctuary wanted to build the biggest sanctuary west of the Mississippi. I guess the ones east of the river were too big to tackle. Or, like many Texans, the pastor thought that whatever was east of the river was irrelevant. Regardless, what was the purpose of that?

Like Stonehenge, the reason for its building has passed out of memory, except for maybe a few older people. But the building remains. Also like Stonehenge, it is impressive on the outside, but about half empty on the inside.
I posted previously on the statements made by the President of Iran concerning the desire to blow Israel off the map. In case you have any doubts about him, you should know he attended and spoke at a conference called "The World Without Zionism Conference".

In case you still have doubts, consider these words he also spoke:

We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years ...The issue of this conference is very valuable. In this very grave war, many people are trying to scatter grains of desperation and hopelessness regarding the struggle between the Islamic world and the front of the infidels ...Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved... We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization... we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.


"For a number of years I have now annually read through the Bible twice. If the Bible were a large, mighty tree and all its words were little branches I have tapped at all the branches, eager to know what was there and what it had to offer" Martin Luther, 1533.

488 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 98 Thesis to the door of the Wittenberg church. We celebrate that now as Reformation Day. “We” meaning everyone who appreciates the importance of the Reformation.

One important thing that resulted from the Reformation was the devotion to the truth and sufficiency of the Bible. When Luther went to seminary as an Augustinian monk, people did not have their own copies of the Bible. He was given one to study at one point. He speculated that it would be great to have one of his own.

Later, Luther translated the Bible into his native language, German. Gutenberg revolutionized printing. The Bible came to the individual believer. There was no turning back.

If Luther could not find it in Scripture, he could not believe it. Neither the Pope nor the King could change his mind. The subsequent Reformers carried this idea forward under the banner of Sola Scriptura.

Luther also put his effort where his ideal was. He did not only say he was devoted to the Scripture. He lived it. The quote above shows us he read the Bible cover to cover twice per year. He did this for ten years. He also taught theology, preached several times per week, wrote books and pamphlets, counseled and served as the spiritual leader of Germany. He was a busy man who did not let his business overrun his study of the Word.

He also said "He who is well acquainted with the text of Scripture is a distinguished theologian. For a Bible passage or text is of more value than the comments of four authors".

Today’s Protestant pulpit is not filled with the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, it is invaded by so called personal revelation, pop psychology, sociology and humanism. Many of those whose pulpits are invaded do not recognize it.

You will recognize the difference, however, if you commit to the Word with the same fervor as Martin Luther. You will discern truth and discern what is from God’s word from what is from man’s word. This will not make everyone happy with you, but God will be happy with you, and you will be happy in Him. Luther said "Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scripture".

So, while others are dressing as devils and witches and going door to door for candy, or going to their local church for candy, read your Bible. You could even carry it to the door with you tonight when the kids come. That will probably scare more people than any costume you could wear.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I got sick on Thursday with some sort of virus and I am still suffering. By early afternoon on Thursday, I had a headache. A couple of hours later I had a sore throat and a cough and felt cold. I had a problem to solve at work, so I stayed until it was at hand. Thanks to Corbin for taking over to get it done. I went home about 4:15.

By Thursday night I was miserable. There are benefits to having a nurse in the house. The Little Woman has taken good care of me.

I couldn't sleep much Thursday night and Friday was more of the same. But, it began to break a little on Friday night.

As long as I am on the cough medicine, I can tolerate myself. I do not get sick very often and, as a result, can hardly tolerate it.

I do not know how long this will take to clear up, but I cannot wait. I cannot talk without coughing. If you know me, you know how much I am suffering.

The Little Woman says the average woman needs to say 60,000 words per day and the average man needs to say 30,000. The man gets all of his said during the work day, and the woman only gets a fraction of hers, so she wants to talk when the man gets home and he wants to be quiet. The difference in our house, according to the Little Woman, is that I have 100,000 words to say per day, and that is if you do not get me started on something I actually know something about.

That means I am about a quarter of a million words in the hole right now. Pity the fool who asks me a question after I get well.

Oh, and thanks to my good buddy Josh for bringing me Starbucks last night so I didn't have to get out.
Who to believe? Iran's Foreign Ministry issued a statement today to the effect that it stands by the commitment it made by signing the U.N. charter to refrain from using violence against another country. That sounds good, doesn't it? Well, it does until you hear the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, vow to destroy Israel. Is Israel not another country?

Ahmadinejad, who is not known by another name oddly enough, said on Friday that Israel should be “wiped off the map". He did this in front of more than a million demonstrators (nice word for rabble) who came to the capital city and others to protest the very existence of the Jewish state. So you will have to forgive Israel if they seem a little tense.

You have to worry when Israel gets tense. The last time they got tense, they conducted an air raid to blow up a nuclear plant in Iraq.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Father is God. Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit is God also. In Acts 5:3-4, Peter confronted Ananias and said he lied to the Holy Spirit, which meant he lied not to men, but God.

The Bible ascribes to him the attributes of God. He is eternal according to Hebrews 9:14. He is able to create life. Matthew 1:18 says that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He is omni-present according to Psalm 139:7. He was sent by God, as was Jesus, according to 1 Corinthians 2:12. He knows the thoughts of God according to 1 Corinthians 2:11.

The Holy Spirit is a distinct person with a distinct ministry. Jesus said he would ask the Father and he would send another Counselor to be with us forever, the Spirit of Truth (John 14:16). He picks up where Jesus left off in his support of and ministry to us. He knows all Jesus knows, for Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would teach us all things (John 14:26).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The second part of the question is: Is each person God? The New Testament portrays Jesus as God and shows him to claim such in his own words. This is a major theme of the book of John. The very first verse says “the Word was God”. John records the miracles of Jesus to show he is God. He has power over nature, over sickness, even over death. He describes the miracle at Cana, turning water to wine, as revealing his glory (John 2:11).

Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God was a claim of deity. The Jews understood this and persecuted him for it. John 5:18 says “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God.” Jesus also said “I and the Father are one”. See John 10:30. In verse 33, the Jews sought to kill him for they understood him to claim to be God. Paul expressed it this way: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19) and “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

The resurrection is further proof that Jesus is God. He overcame the physical restraints on mortal men by overcoming death. It is the ultimate testimony to his being God. It is so important that Paul listed it as required belief for being saved. In Romans 10:9, he said “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Finally, we see Jesus as sitting on the throne at the right side of the Father. But, John put it bluntly in 1 John 5:20: “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

ChelleBelle has raised many questions about the Trinity on her blog. I will answer them to the best of my ability, both in comments to her blog, and here. Here is the first one:

Does the Trinity exist?

The Trinity exists. "Trinity" is a term that refers to the Christian doctrine that God exists as a unity of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each is a distinct person, yet identical in essence. (Person may be an inadequate word to describe them, but it is the best we can do.)

There are really two questions involved. The first question is: Does each person of the Trinity exist? The second question is: Is each person God?

The Bible discusses all three persons. The most famous verse is Matthew 28:19, that says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. This verse names all three persons of the Trinity and implies unity and equality.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different knds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” This verse also names all three persons and shows them all working in the life of a believer.

2 Corinthians 12:14 says “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Ephesians 4:4-7 says “There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is overall and through all and in all.”

1 Peter 1:2 says “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood”.

Jude 20-21 says “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

All three persons of the Godhead are named, all shown to work together for salvation and sanctification.
THE ACCIDENT. Here is an account of our accident Sunday night. We went to College Station to attend the Baby's first band concert as a college student. We took the Baby and the College Girl to dinner, then drove home.

After we got to Fort Worth, we exited on Sycamore School Road and headed west toward home. A car came blasting out of a parking lot and hit us on the driver's side toward the back. It spun the car around, with the back end coming around the passenger side. The car drove off without stopping. There is a fairly long mark down the side of the car, meaning he kept contact with us for some time and really pushed us into a spin.

I jerked the steering wheel and corrected the spin, but we were going into the parking lot of a church's fried chicken. I steered around a metal storage pod, but hit a mini van in the back and came to a stop. It was very scary.

We climbed out of the car. It was the Little Woman's new car, and the front end is destroyed. She was in pain and having trouble breathing. A lady called 911 and the ambulance came. They put the Little Woman on a board and put a collar on her neck before taking her off. I declined to go. (I know, I know.) I called the Oldest Daughter and she and the Son-In-Law came to get me. We had the car towed and left for the hospital. To make a long story short, they ran tests on the Little Woman and found no broken bones, just bruising.

So, we are at home and recovering. It will take a few days for the Little Woman to heal up, but we are going to be fine. Thanks to all who have called and come by.
MORE SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE. The Dallas Cowboys have stumbled into first place. Maybe Pat Robertson is right.

Monday, October 10, 2005

"Calvinism did not spring from Calvin. We believe that it sprang from the great Founder of all truth." -Charles H. Spurgeon
The Apocalypse is here. I had a nightmare. Pat Robertson was standing in my bedroom. Only his face was lit. His ears stuck out. His hair bulged on one side, making him look like he had a tumor on this head. He kept saying “the Apocalypse is here”. Over and over.

Maybe he is right. I have never been one to see THE END in every natural disaster. I leave that to Hal Lindsey, the man who is always wrong, but paid well to keep at it. Pat also likes to chime in.

There is a lot going on, isn’t there? We had a Tsunami. We had to learn how to spell it.

Hurricane Katrina struck a major city in a powerful country and reduced it to a mass of finger pointing, ineffectual, corrupt cowards. Hurricane Stan reduced parts of Mexico to a swamp, causing almost 2 million Mexicans to lose their homes or jobs. The price to rebuild is estimated at $28 million. Guatemala is also suffering and has declared some towns a permanent grave yards.

Now we have this earthquake in Pakistan. They say 40,000 people may have died in this 7.6 shaker. 2.5 million may be homeless. Was the same guy running this country that was running New Orleans?

To top it all off, Dallas beat Philadelphia 33-10.

The End Is Near.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Revelation 13:8 says “... all who dwell on earth will worship it [the beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.” (ESV) He wrote your name in the book of life before the foundation of the world. It was written there when Jesus came to seek and to save. It was written before you were born.

Why was your name written in the book? Because you were chosen. Ephesians 1:4 says "...he chose us in him before the foundation of the world." God chose you to be saved before the world began.

Jesus was also chosen. He was chosen to redeem all those whose names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. He also was chosen before the foundation of the world. 1 Peter 1:20 says he was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake.

God didn't make it up as he went along. He had a plan all along. He had a plan before he even made the earth.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

While am on the Edwards bandwagon, let me recommend that you read "Jonathan Edwards, A Life" by George M. Marsden. He is a historian, but sensitive to theological issues.

The good news is the book came out last year and you can find it used. Go to Theological Pursuits and get a good deal. Tell David I sent you.
“Let us not conceive that the agency of man can bring about one single iota of deviation from the plans and the purposes of God-or that He can be thwarted and compelled to vary in a single case, by the movement of any of those subordinate beings whom He Himself has created.” Thomas Chalmers, Congregational Sermons, Volume II, Sermon VIII.

It's not his birthday, but I like him anyway.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JONATHAN EDWARDS. In your honor, and memory, a quote:

From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me.
But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally disposing of men, according to his sovereign pleasure. But never could give an account, how, or by what means, I was thus convinced, not in the least imagining at the time, nor a long time after, that there was any extraordinary influence of God's Spirit in it; but only that now I saw further, and my reason apprehended the justice and reasonableness of it.
However, my mind rested in it; and it put an end to all those cavils and objections. And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense, in God's strewing mercy to whom he will shew mercy, and hardening whom he will. God's absolute sovereignty and justice, with respect to salvation and damnation, is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes; at least it is so at times.
But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God's sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet.
Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.

Monday, October 03, 2005

You could have a Britney Spears underwear party to try and win people to Christ. Britney has donated a bra to be auctioned for hurricane relief. You could write her and ask her to donate a bra for your church, then invite people over to see it. Then, at the end, you could have a moment of reflection and call it a night. Now, that's evangelism.

Britney is definitely seeker friendly.
The Church of England has evidently decided to get into the modern evangelism movement. They do not want to start out at the rear of the movement, however. They have jumped to the front of the fray. No, we are not talking about the garage band service, or the Hawaiian Shirt Preacher, or even open mike night services. No, we are talking underwear. Think of it as The Church Goes Victoria Secret on you.

Ikid you not, as it says in the King James Version. A bishop in the Church if England now acks the message of the book "Open The Door" that advises Christians to spread the message to people by hosting lingerie parties. This is the old argument that the Church must use unconventional methods to attract "church goers" and stop the decline in membership.

The bishop, by the way, is The Rev Jan Harney. She wants Christians to have fun and get to know people before trying to convert them. It reminds me of the Sunday School department I started once from scratch and saw grow to over 50 members based on the old fashioned methods of teaching the Bible. The guy after me said he wanted to teach people that Christians can have fun. Within a few years, the department was down to a few members.

You also have to ask yourself, what kind of church goers would you get from a lingerie party? I don't know if you want people that are that seeker friendly. Couldn't you just invite people over for dinner without showing them your underwear?

Remember the movie "Field of Dreams"? The voice (whose voice was that anyway?) said "if you build it, they will come." Modify it for the Bible a little bit: If you teach it, they will come. When they do, they will hear God's truth and become disciples.

And they won't have a panty fetish.