Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bangkok has canceled public celebrations of New Year's Eve after a bombing. Anyone want to bet on who is responsible for the bombings?

New Year's Eve

The Little Woman and I are set for NYE. We are very popular. We didn't get invited to any parties. No problem. She fixed escargot and some other wonderful things and we are settled in for a Pretender marathon, having received the second season on DVD for Christmas.

I'm sure there will be a trip to Starbucks, as always. We are both happy to be together and have a quiet evening at home.

Be careful out there.
It's rather stunning to see the difference in the deaths of Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein. One was executed, the other died in ripe old age. One died in ignominy, the other in honor. One is hated, one is respected.

What comes next? The Bible says it is appointed for man to die, and then the judgment. Saddam must now make a real accounting for what he has done.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Insofar as the church is conformed to the world, and the
two communities appear to the onlooker to be merely two
versions of the same thing, the church is contradicting its
true identity. No comment could be more hurtful to the
Christian than the words, 'But you are no different from
anybody else. --From "The Message of the Sermon on the Mount" (The Bible
Speaks Today series: Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP,
1978), p. 17.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram carried an article this week about a survey that shows some 90 percent of Americans believe in angels. That must set guys like Richard Dawkins off in a tail spin. It just shows that men and women are spiritual beings at some level. They instinctively look for the spiritual side of life, and angels are part of that. Many feel they have encountered an angel. My wife does, for example.

The forces seeking to stamp Christianity out of American life were in full power in 2006. The media attacked from every angle, including books, movies, documentary tv shows and magazine articles. Prominent atheists were featured in many formats. Fundamentalist Evolutionists shouted from every forum. The end result? Ninety percent of Americans believe in angels.

Maybe the enemy should be quiet. Apathy might be a better tool.

Yes, by the way, I believe angels exist, the creation of God, serving him as he directs.
Gerald Ford, former president, has died.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I hope you enjoyed Christmas. It's over. I took the last kid to the airport at 5:30 this morning. The other two were out before Christmas Day was over. Wow. My head is spinning.

We celebrated on Christmas Eve this year so the Seminary Daughter could attend Christmas with her in-laws. We had a good time. All 3 daughters were here plus the new son-in-law. My brother and his family came, as well as my mother and her husband. We had a great meal and millions of presents. All in all, a good time.

The Seminary Daughter did really well in the marriage thing. Not only is the son-in-law fun to have around, his parents own a book store and gave me 4 books for Christmas. Be still my heart.

Took off early this morning to return to their new home in Seminary Town. The Baby went with them to visit for a few days. She'll return just in time to catch a plane for another trip, this time to a conference.

The Oldest called me from the Big Apple by mid-morning to tell me she had arrived safely and that it was warmer there than here in Cowtown. That seems unfair, somehow. The good news is it creates a wonderful excuse to lounge around in sweats all day. So, I am.

The Little Woman had to work last night, so she is sleeping. I've been watching Pretender on DVDs, having received the second season for a present. The Baby let me borrow her lap top, but I'm not sure how long the batter will last, and I cannot find the part of the power cord that goes from the charger to the wall. I feel so incomplete.

I may have to look in her room again for it. I'm afraid, though. Last time I fell and was buried under a semester's worth of dirty clothes and was barely able to climb out.

Well, more later. I'm going to investigate this "new blogger" thing. Maybe it is one that does not disappear for days and keep you from blogging.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

There must be something in the water this Christmas. The news sounds like a cheesy movie that you would only see on Saturday afternoon high up on the cable dial. Donald Trump is giving Miss Something a second chance after she appeared to lose her crown for drinking and taking drugs. Now Miss Nevada wants another chance after having naughty pictures of herself posted on the Internet. Somewhere I missed that part that looking good in a bikini meant you had stellar morals. But The Donald epitomizes the American love of second chances, so its off to rehab for all. Rehab is great. You go someplace nice and let the heat die down, then come back and claim to be a new person, except that Downey guy that kept getting arrested. Maybe Britney needs rehab. If she went away for a few months, maybe people would forget about the lack of underwear and baby juggling. She really shouldn't stand next to Paris Hilton, though. It makes her look really fat.

Meanwhile, in Britain the queen is on a quest to knight all the old rock stars around. Maybe she is afraid the next generation won't have the same talent. Bono is now Sir Bono, I guess, and joins Elton John and Paul McCartney as knights of the round table. Meanwhile, some guy is running around killing prostitutes. I don't think he'll get knighted, and probably can't even sing.

In Iran, the Mad Man at the top is losing political support at home, but continues to spew threats and radical Shiite Muslim dogma at the U.S. and most of the world. A court in America has held Iran responsible for an attack that killed Americans and the U.N. Security Council actually managed to act, imposing sanctions with even the support of Russia and China, who usually vote no when the U.S. votes yes just because they can.

I'm thinking President Bush sent Rick Warren to Russia and China on a diplomatic mission, since he did so well in Syria. We'll never know unless pictures surface on the Web showing Warren walking around China with guys in those green suits talking about how Christians are safe and free to worship. That's why we put them in these special buildings with bars on the windows, so know one can get in and hurt them.

Just in time for Christmas feasting, folks in the Northeast are recovering from E Coli poisoning at the taco joints. The culprit seems to be vegetables from California, just like the last time. I know they like things natural in California, but someone tell them to quit pooping in the food.

Maybe that's what's in the water.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


It's not because there is snow. It's 70 degrees outside. No, it's because the kids are filtering into the house. The Baby arrived today with a boy in tow. Soon the other 2 will be here and the house will be full again.

Thank you Lord.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Ben Witherington points out that most Evangelicals celebrate the pagan New Year, that handed to us by the Romans. They do not celebrate the traditional Christian New Year, Advent. In SBC life, I'm sure that is a throw back to the denomination's avoidance of all things "high church", especially Catholic.

Some folks buy the Advent calendars now, but that is mostly to give little gifts to the kids and to build excitement for Christmas, one of the Catholic things we are willing to keep. However, the beginning of Advent is to look forward to the Second Coming of Christ.

It's a shame, but most of us Baptists are so ignorant of history we don't know what is sacred and what is secular. In the desire to avoid high church practices, we have thrown out the baby with the bath and embraced secular culture, then complaining when society doesn't treat it as religious. Read Ben's post.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Vatican archaeologists say the have found the tomb of the apostle Paul. It is a sarcophagus (stone tomb) under a basilica in Rome. Tradition has it that a church was first build on the site where Paul was buried. A second church was built by Theodosius in the fourth century. It supposedly was built so that the sarcophagus was visible. That church burned in 1823. The current church was then build, but covered the tomb. Tradition also has it that the altar was built over the tomb. Tradition, of course, means Roman Catholic tradition.

I guess the only problem at the moment, as far as verication, is that they have only dated the tomb to 390 A.D, a few centuries away from Paul's death. However, that would be consistent with the idea that the Emperor Theodosius was responsible for preserving the remains. The question is, how did E.T. know they were Paul's remains?

Vatican archaeologists previously excavated at St. Peter´s Basilica, looking for Peter's tomb. This was in 1939. They found the tomb in 1941. Thirty-five years later, they claimed to have authenticated the remains as those of Peter. I don't know how they did that. But, it could be a while before the Roman church is willing to attest to Paul's remains.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Here is an interesting article on Biblical dating. Thanks to Denny Burk for the link.

I realize the term "Biblical Dating" is odd, as no one dated in the Bible. But, applying Biblical principles to dating is a good idea, unless of course you want to let your parents pick your mate.

Good news to Lindsey and Drew: you did it right according to this guy.
The pastor preached a good sermon today on Immanuel: God With Us. There are many passages that speak of God being with us in trials and struggles, but it was a great word of encouragement that God does not abandon believers to their struggles of any sort, not just persecution. He is involved and he cares about our struggles at work and at home.

It is so easy to panic when disaster or difficulty appear. I am pretty good about asking God for help in difficulties. Where I would like to get is where my initial reaction to a difficulty is to calmly turn it over to the Lord and trust him to help me. Sometimes my head is saying "trust and relax", while my stomach is still tying itself up in knots.

Maybe my trials are for this very purpose: God raising my trust level and my faith in his ability and desire to take care of me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

2 Corinthians 3

3:1-3 The Corinthians: Paul’s Commendation

1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

When preachers or prophets came to a new town, they would bring letters of commendation to the church, so the church would know it was alright to let them speak to the body. However, you can work the system with letters of commendation, getting them only from your friends. There is also some thought that Paul might have been criticized for talking to much about his past exploits.

Paul told them he did not need letters, for they Corinthians were his commendation. They are the result of his ministry, so the validity of this preaching speaks for itself in the lives of those to whom he has ministered. In 1 Corinthians 9:2, he called them the “seal of my apostleship in the Lord”.

Paul also foreshadows his discussion of the new covenant, when he says the words were not written on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. The old covenant was written on stone tablets, given by God to Moses. But the new covenant is not a matter of keeping laws, even those written in stone. Instead, it is about faith in Christ who as a matter of grace changes our hearts.

Paul is probably alluding to a couple of Old Testament passages in which God promised to do this. In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God promised a new covenant and declared that he would write his law on the hearts of his people. Also, in Ezekiel 36:26-27 he promised the same thing. Since the Corinthians have experienced this change of heart through the preaching of Paul, they are living testimonies to the validity of his ministry and message.

3:4-6 Paul’s Competence, Part 2

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Paul finally gets to the real point of his competence. He said it did not come from his own ability. He said he did not claim anything for himself in verse 5. Rather, God has made him competent as a minister. Paul always attributed his ministry to grace. In Ephesians 3:7, he said he became a servant of the gospel by the gift of God’s grace given to him through the working of God’s power.

Paul then gives us a transition. He says he is, in fact, a minister of the new covenant. The new covenant is the next topic he will write about. He contrasts it with the old covenant, as one of Spirit rather than of letter, and of life rather than death. Paul is going to continue with a comparison of the old and new covenants and the superiority of the new covenant.

3:7-11 The Glory of the New Covenant

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Verse 7 is speaking of the old covenant given at Sinai through Moses. It defined the relationship between God and his people. He would be their God, and they would be his people. Look at Exodus 19:3-8. Then, in Exodus 20:1 through 23:19, God set forth his commandments, they things Israel were to obey as God’s covenant people. At least the 10 Commandments, as we know them, were engraved on stone tablets.

Then, go to Exodus 24:6, as you will See Moses offer sacrifices and sprinkle blood on the altar and on the people, saying in verse 8, “this is the blood of the covenant”.

The new covenant defines the new relationship between God and his people. How did the new covenant come about? It came through the death of Christ and his resurrection. In Matthew 26:28, Jesus said “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:12-14, 28 and 10:10.

The old covenant came with glory. Having the benefit of the new covenant, we tend to downplay the old covenant, and indeed the new covenant is much better. But, the old covenant was still special. God actually came and spoke with Moses and gave him all the commandments. They were unique to the Israelites as those God chose from all of the people of the world, not because of their merit, but because of his grace extended to them.

After Moses had been in the presence of the glory of God, his face would shine. Exodus 34:30 says the Israelites were afraid to come near him. Then the glory would begin to fade. Moses began to wear a veil to hide his face. That is what verse 7 in today’s text refers to.

Paul says that, although the old covenant came with glory, it was a glory that faded. The new covenant, however, will be even more glorious. It is a surpassing glory and a glory that lasts. The glory of the new covenant and the salvation it brings are both eternal. The old covenant could not bring salvation. No one could be saved through works. In fact, the law condemns us. It set forth God’s standards, but did not give people the power to obey. The new ministry brings righteousness to us through the work of Christ.

Remember the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15? The question was whether the Gentile believers would be required to obey the law of Moses. The Jews were proud of the law. It made them God’s special people and it was hard to give that up, even if they could not live up to it. But, Peter said in verse 10 “why do you try to test god by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?”

The new covenant also brings the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Whereas the glory of the old covenant faded over time, the Spirit is with us at all times. Whereas the old covenant delivered no power to obey, the Spirit enables us to love God’s standards and keep them. He writes God’s laws on our hearts.

3:12-18 The Clarity of the Gospel

12Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Paul begins this passage by basing his argument on the fact that we have “such a hope”. What does he mean? He is referring to the last passage that spoke of how much more glorious the new covenant is than the old. He said it was a covenant that brings righteousness and a covenant that lasts. When we receive Christ, we get the benefit of his righteousness. Romans 3:22 says “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” This righteousness lasts forever, as does our salvation. Our pastor preached last week about the permanence of our salvation and gave us many verses that spoke of it. 1 Peter 1:3 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heave for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

So, we have this great hope, hope of eternal life in Christ. Paul said, because we have this great hope we are very bold. One version says “we use plainness of speech”. Paul was very bold, wasn’t he? He preached both to Jews and Greeks. He clearly and forcefully proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, the son of God, the only way of salvation. He did not compromise his message, he did not hold back, even in the face of opposition.

God has given us a clear message of salvation, of the way to him. We must repent of our sin and believe in Jesus. Ministers must preach it plainly. Lay people must present it plainly. Verse 13 says Moses wore a veil to conceal the radiance of his face, but we are not to conceal the glory of God in Christ.

In this passage, Paul uses the veil of Moses as a symbol in two different ways. First, the veil symbolizes the obscurity of the old covenant. As Moses’ face was veiled, so the message of the old covenant was veiled or obscured with symbols, types and foreshadowings. In Ephesians 3:5, Paul said the mystery of Christ was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 13:11 “…the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you….”

Second, the veil symbolizes the spiritual blindness of the Jews that kept them from understanding the meaning of the institutions of the old covenant. Remember how often Jesus referred to the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, as blind. When, as recorded in Matthew 13, the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables, he said the Jews did not see, hear or understand. In them was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 6, that they would be hearing but never understanding, seeing but never perceiving, because their hearts had become calloused. We have a great privilege to live in the era of greater revelation.

Verse 14 says their minds were made dull. They did not understand what Moses taught. Verse 15 says they still do not understand the law unless they turn to Christ. In the gospels, you constantly see Jesus confronting the Jews over the real meaning of the law. They settled for external ritual without grasping the real meaning and intention. For example, in Matthew 12, the Pharisees confronted Jesus over the Sabbath, when his disciples ate heads of grain in the field. The Pharisees concentrated on their man made rules concerning things you cannot do on the Sabbath. Jesus told them the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. Only in Christ is the veil taken away. Since the Jews rejected Christ, the veil is not removed. Only when they turn to Christ is the veil removed.

You see that veil coming off slowly even for the disciples. In Luke 24:25, Jesus said to the men on the road to Emmaus “how foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Paul often went to the synagogue and preached Christ from the Old Testament and was run out of town for it.

Verse 17 says the Lord is the Spirit. I think this is a sort of Trinitarian statement. The Holy Spirit is presented as the source of life and truth, but in this passage, Christ is portrayed that way. That can be so because they are one, not one person, but one substance, just as Jesus said he and the Father were one. We have the Holy Spirit because of the work of Christ. They are united in purpose.

Where the Spirit is there is freedom. When we have been saved by faith in Christ, and indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we have freedom from the bondage of the law, from condemnation, from the dominion of sin and from corruption.

The last statement of this chapter is a glorious affirmation of our life in Christ. We who have Christ and the Holy Spirit have had the veil removed. We are not spiritually blind, we can see clearly.

In verse 18, the word “reflect” in the NIV may not be correct. The footnote in the NIV and NASB says “contemplate”. The ESV says “beholding the glory”. The context seems to indicate, not that we reflect God’s glory, but that, since the veil has been removed, we behold God’s glory without a veil. We see Christ’s glory through his Word and his Spirit, but only in heaven will we behold his glory directly. 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us we still see as in a mirror, but then face to face. Mirrors in that time were not clear as they are today, and the image was less perfect.

Verse 18 also says we are also being transformed into his likeness. We will become more and more like him. 1 John 3:2 says we will be like him because we will see him as he is.

Take advantage of the glory of the new covenant. Know Christ fully and make him known.