Thursday, April 26, 2007

This appears on the web page for Grace Baptist Church, Coral Gables:

On Sunday, May 6, 2007 Dr. Tom Nettles will be with us, preaching in both the English and Spanish services. He is coming in view of a call to serve as our Associate Pastor. Please pray for Tom and Margaret, his wife, as well as for our church as we seek God's will in this important decision.
Tom Nettles is a graduate of Mississippi College (BA) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). He is widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historical theologians in America. He previously taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, where he was Professor of Church History and Chariman of the Department of Church History. Since 1997 he has served as Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Tom has written numerous journal articles and scholarly papers and is the author of several books, including By His Grace and For His Glory.

Lindsey, you better take a class from him quickly!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Read a great post by Phil Johnson on propitiation.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, "You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself." My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Janice Shaw Crouse has written a book review called “Another Layer of Guilt for Women” posted at It is a review of “The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?" by Leslie Bennetts. You will recognize that the book’s title is a take off on the famous book, "Feminine Mystique", by Betty Friedan.

Crouse writes that the premise of the book is that “women need to be selfish by avoiding economic dependency and self-centered in recognizing that their worth is largely dependent upon their workforce identity”. To back this up, Bennetts cites many stories about men abandoning women and causing them financial hardship. I don’t want to rehash the book review, as it is a good review of the book and you can read it here.

Also, I don’t disagree with Crouse’s complaint that the book slights women who want to be mothers and wives at home.

I do want to say that Bennetts has a point in the allegation that many men have abandoned women and caused financial hardship. As the father of daughters, this potential is a real fear. I don’t want my daughters left without support. I don’t like it when women I know are plunged into greatly reduced circumstances by divorce or abandonment. Even at church, there have been cases of men leaving leaving their wives poor or struggling. This is not right and it not a manly thing, or Christian thing, to do.

In contrast, I’ve been studying the book of Ruth. Ruth is the widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi, also a widow. They have a kinsman named Boaz. In chapter 3, Ruth makes an appeal to Boaz for redemption. She lays at his feet and asks him to throw his cloak over her. She is saying, as my kinsman redeemer, will you marry me, support me and protect me? Boaz does. They marry and have a son, and their line soon produces King David.

Boaz is called a man of standing. He was moral, Godly and faithful. A Godly man is faithful. He is faithful to his God, his wife and his family. He loves them, supports them and protects them.
"If we are seeking to develop a balanced biblical understanding of the state, central to it will be the truths that the state's authority and ministry are both given to it by God. Moreover, in writing about the ministry of the state, Paul twice uses the very same word which he has used elsewhere of the ministers of the church, namely *diakonoi* (although the third time he uses *leitourgoi*, a term which usually meant 'priests' but could mean 'public servants') ... *diakonia* is a generic term which can embrace a wide variety of ministries. Those who serve the state as legislators, civil servants, magistrates, police, social workers or tax collectors are just as much 'ministers of God' as those who serve the church as pastors, teachers, evangelists or administrators."

John Stott, "The Message of Romans" (The Bible Speaks Today series: Leicester: IVP, 1994), p. 343.

As a public servant, I like that.

Monday, April 16, 2007


"The Children of Hurin" is going on sale! Christopher Tolkien put the book together from his father's manuscripts and has gotten it published. Christopher is in his eighties, so we should really appreciate his getting this done.

Part of the story was published in "The Silmarillion" (1977). This is a pre-Hobbit, pre-Lord of the Rings story.
Wouldn't it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press 'Ctrl Alt Delete' and start all over?

Thursday, April 12, 2007


How come we choose from just two people to run for president and over fifty for Miss America?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Former Sen. Fred Thompson is putting together a campaign team to run for president. He came in third among Republicans in a USA Today/Gallup poll. First was Giuliani and second was McCain. Thompson has not formally announced, just said he might run. There is a “Draft Thompson” movement going on.

Giuliani is just a popular guy. People love him for handling the post 9-11 ordeal. He is not very conservative, however. That will hurt him in the primary, but help him in the general election. He has raised $15 million dollars for his campaign so far. Religious conservatives are not at all happy with him, as he supports abortion rights and has been married multiple times.

The former front runner and now number 2, John McCain has raised $12.5 million for his campaign. McCain got good endorsements from four former secretaries of state. Henry Kissinger, retired Gen. Alexander Haig, Lawrence Eagleburger and George Schultz all endorsed McCain. That might help with a few older Republicans, but no one under the age of 50 cares what those guys think and most don’t know who they are. They think Schultz wrote the Peanuts cartoons and that Eagleburger owns a chain of hamburger restaurants. Kissinger they know as that old guy with the German accent, so he might be Arnold’s uncle or something. They also know that McCain defended Don Imus, who insulted the Rutgers basketball team by calling them nappy headed hos, so any vote he might have gotten from women, blacks and basketball players, and, well, anyone with any worry about racism is now history.

Mitt Romney raised a whopping $21 million. That alone will give him a boost among the party loyalists, and allow plenty of t.v. advertising. The question is, will folks vote for a Mormon. He looks good and speaks well, but he wears that funny underwear. Christian conservatives will debate whether his relatively conservative moral views are worth the risk of what they consider a cultic religion in the White House.

Newt Gingrich also jumped in the race. He has called for Attorney General Gonzales to resign over the firing of some Attorney Generals, just like Bill Clinton did without incident. Gingrich has the support of James Dobson for some weird reason, given that the Newt has been married a few times and admits to having an affair with one future missus while being married to the current missus.

Religion always plays a big part in the Republican primary. It’s just hard to see where it will go. Dr. James Dobson says he thinks Fred Thompson is not a Christian. Thompson’s campaign says he is and was baptized in the Church of Christ. I’m not sure if that makes him a Christian or not. I don’t really understand this point, but they believe you can lose your salvation if you sin, so, if you sin, and you lose your salvation, at that point you can’t be a Christian, can you?

Rudy is a Catholic and Mitt is a Mormon.

It’s going to be interesting, isn’t it?
I inadvertantly slighted the Seminary Daughter. Let me redeem myself. She also heard John Piper speak live, at Southern Seminary. You can hear him here.
Ted Nugent on Deer Hunting

While on a European tour, Nugent was being interviewed by a French journalist. The journalist asked, "What do you American hunters think the last thought is, in the mind of a deer, before you shoot it? Is it, `Are you my friend?`or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother?'"

Nugent replied, "They aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, 'What am I going to eat next, who am I going to [have sex with] next, and can I run fast enough to get away.

They are very much like the French."
Mickey posted the following a few days ago after I posted my Bible study in 2 Corinthians. Here is the post. I wanted to make sure everyone saw it.

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Yesterday, I went grocery shopping to help the Little Woman get ready for Easter. One of the items on the list was guacamole. I could not find it. The Little Woman said it would be in produce, but I did not see any. Finally, I asked the produce manager if he knew where I could find guacamole.
His answer: "you mean, already made up?"
You couldn't make this stuff up.



This little book tells the story of two women, Naomi and Ruth. Naomi suffered much hardship, but found peace and security. Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law, left her home in a pagan land, and joined herself to Israel, finding redemption. The book also tells us of Boaz, the kinsman redeemer. But, truly it is the story of God, who works in the affairs of women and men to accomplish his purpose and to bless those who trust him. It is a story of God’s grace, given to a pagan woman who pledged herself to follow God.

This story occurs in the time of Judges, which we have studied. We don’t know who wrote the book. We don’t know when it was written. It was included in the Jewish scriptures. The Babylonian Talmud has it. Josephus referred to it. It appeared in possibly the oldest list of Old Testament books, a manuscript found in the Greek Patriarch’s library in Jerusalem.

1:1-2 Famine and Flight

1 In the days when the judges ruled, [a] there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man's name was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

This first verse tells us Ruth lived in the time of the Judges. You might remember from out study that this time was marked by the unfaithfulness of the Israelites, who would cease worshipping God until they were conquered or harassed by other nations. Then they would repent and God would deliver. Then they would start the whole cycle over again.

In Deuteronomy 28, the Lord told the Israelites they would suffer drought and the resulting famine if they forsook the Lord. This is also set out in Leviticus 26:19-20. Yet, Judges 2:11-12 says that the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord… And so the Lord began to bring on them the punishments he described in Deuteronomy 28. For example, Judges 6:3-4 speaks of famine caused by the invasion of the Midianites during the time of Gideon.

In this opening verse in Ruth, we are told there was a famine in the land. This was probably the result of drought, or maybe invasion. So, this Israelite family suffered from the famine.

This family is composed of a man, his wife and their two sons. The man is Elimelech. His wife is Naomi. The sons are Mahlon and Kilion.

This family lived in or near Bethlehem. Verse 2 calls them Ephrathites, meaning they were from Betlehem Ephrath. Evidently the name of the town was originally Ephrath, and it was renamed Bethlehem. Rachel died and was buried there, according to Genesis 35:16. Bethlehem was awarded to the tribe of Judah in the allotment. The second most famous Judahite was King David, who was born and anointed as king in Bethlehem. So, it was called, in Luke 2:4, “the city of David”. Then, the most famous Judahite was born there, Jesus. In Micah 5:2, the Lord gave the prophesy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and referred to it as “Bethlehem Ephrathah”.

The word “Bethlehem” means “house of bread”, so it was probably a fertile farming area when there was enough rain. However, during this famine, food became scare, so Elimelech decided to leave and go to Moab, to the east, across the Jordan river. Moab was normally an enemy of Israel, although the left handed judge of Israel, Ehud, subdued Moab and won 80 years of peace for Israel, according to Judges 3.

Notice that there is no prayer for direction before Elimelech took his family out of the covenant land, and no word from God that he should. It is similar to Abraham taking his family out of the land to Egypt during a famine.

1:3-5 An Overcoat of Clay

Death is a Dialogue between
The Spirit and the Dust.
"Dissolve" says Death -- The Spirit "Sir
I have another Trust" --

Death doubts it -- Argues from the Ground --
The Spirit turns away
Just laying off for evidence
An Overcoat of Clay.

Emily Dickinson

3 Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi’s husband died, and her sons married Moabite women. What started out as a short exile to avoid a famine turned into a long term stay. As you know, there was a specific prohibition concerning Moabites. Deuteronomy 23:3 prohibited Moabites from becoming part of the Israelite congregation. There was not a specific rule against marriage to a Moabite. (Deuteronomy 7:3 forbids marriage to Canaanites.) Some have interpreted the prohibition of Deuteronomy 23:3 to apply only to men.

After about 10 years of living in Moab, the sons also died off, leaving Naomi with only her daughters-in-law, two Moabite women named Orpah and Ruth. Naomi was in a bad spot, for it was difficult for widows to survive.

1:6-7 Time to Go Home

6 When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

With her husband and sons dead, Naomi had little to hold her in Moab. When she heard the famine was over in Israel, she decided to return to her home. The daughters-in-law prepared to go with her and, evidently, even set out on the road to Judah with her. Notice that the end of the famine is attributed to the Lord coming to visit or aid his people. It is not ascribed to chance.

1:8-10 Attempted Separation

8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. 9 May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband." Then she kissed them and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, "We will go back with you to your people."

As Naomi set out on the road, she told her daughters-in-law to go back to their homes. Interestingly, she calls it “your mother’s home” rather than “your father’s house”. This book really is told from a woman’s point of view.

You can tell that Naomi and these younger women loved each other. Naomi gives them a blessing: “may the Lord show kindness to you” and “may the Lord grant each of you will find rest in the home of another husband”. She gives them a blessing and hopes they will each remarry and prosper. Then she kissed them. So you see affection and love from Naomi.

She also says that the women have shown kindness to her sons and to her. So, they had love for her also. Plus, they wept when she tried to leave them and stated their desire to go with her.

Also note here how Naomi refers to God. The text says “LORD” in all caps. That is a device used in most English versions to refer to “YHWH”, the Tetragramaton, the name of God. So, there is no possible confusion here to whom Naomi refers. In contrast, the Moabites were polytheistic, and their main god was probably Chemosh. In Numbers 21:29, Moses calls the Moabites the “people of Chemosh”. In 1 Kings 11:7, he is called the “detestable god of Moab”. In Numbers 25, they worship Baal, a Caananite god. But, Naomi is clear her allegiance is to YHWH, the LORD.

1:11-15 The Second Attempt

11 But Naomi said, "Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons- 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD's hand has gone out against me!" 14 At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her. 15 "Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her."

Naomi persisted in trying to get the women to go back to their families in Moab. She had nothing to offer them, and knew they would be better to go back and seek husbands. In addition, she told them the Lord’s hand had gone out against her. That is, she attributed her difficulties to the work of the Lord. Orpah then decided to go back. Notice that Naomi tied people and gods together. For these women, a return to their people is a return to their pagan gods. Ruth, however, is not dissuaded from following Naomi.

Naomi does not expect to do well in Israel. She said in verse 12, that there is no hope for her, and this is tied to the idea of finding a husband, the only vocation open to women. She expected to find food in Israel, but still to be a poor widow.

1:16-18 Ruth’s Profession

16 But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

In this passage, Ruth declared her faithfulness and devotion to Naomi. First, she says she will go wherever Naomi goes. Wherever Naomi’s travels would take her, Ruth was willing to go.

Second, Ruth said she would stay wherever Naomi stayed. She knew Naomi was headed back to Israel, and she was willing to go there just because Naomi would. This would have several implications for Ruth, as she would be cut off from her people and their religion. Her subsequent statements indicate she knew that.

Third, Ruth would adopt Naomi’s people as her own. Though the Moabites were related to the Israelites, they were seldom friendly. Yet, Ruth was willing to cut herself off from her own people and become part of Naomi’s people out of devotion to her.

Fourth, Ruth would adopt Naomi’s religion. Naomi’s God would be her God.

Ruth saw this as a permanent arrangement. She would die where Naomi died.

Finally, Ruth took an oath, invoking the name of YHWH. She said, “may the LORD (YHWH) deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” Her invocation of the Lord’s name indicates to me that she had already made a commitment to the Lord and felt bound by an oath to his name.

Ruth basically swears to forsake everything to follow Naomi. It reminds me of the requirements set by Jesus to become a disciple in Luke 14. First, he said (inverse 25-26) you could not become his disciple if you did not hate your father and mother, your wife and children, brother and sisters, and even your own life.

Second, Jesus said, in verse 27, you could not be his disciple if you did not carry your cross and follow him. Third, in verse 33, he said “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. He went on to tell them parables to encourage them to count the cost before they tried to follow him. This isn’t very seeker friendly. But, it tells us Jesus expects complete devotion and commitment to follow him, not just a casual relationship.

Naomi accepted this commitment from Ruth and quit trying to dissuade her. Together, they traveled on to Israel.

Ironically, this chapter is about choices and consequences. Both Naomi and Ruth made choices to leave their country. Both suffered the loss of family as a result of the choices. But, Naomi’s choice was to leave the covenant land for a foreign land, in effect, leaving God’s protection to make it on her own. She suffered great loss as a result. In contrast, Ruth made the choice to leave her pagan land and go with Naomi to the land of the covenant and become part of it. As we will see, that resulted in blessing to her.

1:19-22 Return To Bethlehem

19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, "Can this be Naomi?" 20 "Don't call me Naomi, " she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me." 22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

Naomi and Ruth made it to Bethlehem, and the women of the town recognized Naomi. The men were out a the barley harvest. This puts the time of year around the end of April. Naomi responded, not with delight that she was remembered, but by telling them not to call her Naomi, which means “pleasant”, but to call her “Mara”, which means “bitter”. The reason is that the Lord had made her life bitter. Compare these words with Job’s, who said “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15)

Naomi said “the Almighty” had made her life bitter. The term “the Almighty” is a translation of the Hebrew “Shaddai”. This may be her way of saying the Lord’s will is irresistible, even when he brings trials to us.

There are some previous uses of this name for God in the Old Testatment. In Exodus 6:3, The Lord told Moses he appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name of El Shaddai (or el sadday). In Geneses 17:1, God appeared to Abraham and said I am El Shaddai and commanded him to walk before him and be perfect. In Genesis 28:3, Isaac called on El Shaddai to bless Jacob as we prepared to leave for Padan-Aram. In Genesis 35:11, God appeared to Jacob and changed his name to Israel, telling him I am El Shaddai, and giving him the land of Canaan, as he gave it to Abraham and Isaac. Many of the verses in the Old Testament that refer to El Shaddai seem to be concerned with his power, so that is thought to be the meaning of the name. This fits Naomi’s context as well.

When she said the Lord “afflicted” her, she referred to “YHWH”.

Naomi sees God’s hand in her suffering, not the work of “chance”. She does not, however, say anything about her own, or her husband’s, role in these events as they left the “promised land” for the land of the pagan.

Naomi also said she went away full, and came back empty. She must be referring to the death of her husband and sons, not food or money, since they left because of a famine.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


The Baby got to hear John Piper down at A&M this week, as part of their Resurrection Week. You can hear his sermon here. She also got to meet him, which neither you nor I can do at this website, but we do what we can.

Last year it snowed on Easter morning. This year it has snowed the day before Easter. Two days ago it was 83. Ah, North Texas, the place of ever changing weather. We, of course, are glad to have any precipitation at all, as the most common feature of our weather is drought.
See, Lindsey, you didn't have to leave home to have winter. We had it here for two hours this morning.

Monday, April 02, 2007

From these things shine out upon us the formative principle of Calvinism. The Calvinist is the man who sees God behind all phenomena and in all that occurs recognizes the hand of God, working out His will; who makes the attitude of the soul to God in prayer its permanent attitude in all its life-activities; and who casts himself on the grace of God alone, excluding every trace of dependence on self from the whole work of his salvation. B. B. Warfield.

Over at Pyromaniacs, Phil Johnson has a good post on countering Modernism\Post Modernism. He posits 5 strategies for this. Number 2 especially resonates with me: “Recover the role of teaching in the church. The church desperately needs to get back to the Word of God and sound doctrine. Not only are lay people these days untaught; most pastors are grossly ignorant of basic theological principles which earlier generations would have considered essential, foundational truths. The church is filled with teachers who invent their own doctrine on the fly and see nothing wrong with the practice. No wonder the church as a whole today is ill-equipped to fend off even the rankest of heretics.”

The reason it resonates with me is something that happened last week in my church, a conservative, Southern Baptist church.

One of our women’s “Bible study” groups has engaged in the study of a new book. One of my Sunday School class members brought in copies of some of the pages for some of us to look at. It was disturbing. The writer is more of a Platonist than a Christian, and the sections we read were very much the ideas of Plato, not the ideas of the Bible. Yet, the class continued merrily along absorbing the teaching.

The way you teach someone to spot counterfeit money is by studying real money very closely. Not everyone will have time or the mental ability to study Plato. But, every Christian is supposed to take the time to know the Bible. In addition, every preacher and teacher must preach and teach the word so their congregations know it. Preaching every Sunday on the family or on how to succeed in life will not accomplish this. If you don’t learn the Word, you will not recognize the counterfeit word.

The Post Modernist in the class will complain that we do not have the right to ascertain and insist on the truth, because it is just “our truth”. Actually, there is probably no one in the class brave enough to say it that clearly. Instead, they will say this is just your interpretation of scripture, and this writer has her own (which just so happens to coincide with Plato’s). However, I’ll take the stance of the Psalmist, who said (Psalm 119:30 NIV) “I have chosen the way of truth…”