Monday, December 31, 2007

Ordination #2, Art. 5a: Creation in God’s Image and the Fall

Ringing in the New Year with a little sin talk. Don’t worry. Keep reading (if you have a strong interest in theology). I’m on Article 5 for my ordination work. Man’s creation and fall into sin and its effects. Enjoy. I guess. Any feedback, requests for clarification, or outright correction is appreciated. My final paper will be much shorter, but I prefer to make it long and cut it down rather than beef it up later. I'm rambling now.

Unlike any other being, man was created “very good” (Gen. 1.31) in the image of God (Gen. 1.26-27). Created in God’s image, humankind fell into sin (Gen. 3.1-19), but the image is only effaced, not destroyed as evidenced by the fact that as murder is still a grievous offense due to the victim’s creation in God’s image (Gen. 9.6) and it is why we are to avoid cursing our fellow man (James 3.9) – both unacceptable because man is created in God’s image/likeness. The image is increasingly recovered through the process of sanctification (Col. 3.10; 2 Cor. 3.18) and will ultimately be restored upon Christ’s return (Rom. 8.29; 1 Jn. 3.2).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Limping into the Playoffs

Being a lifelong Seahawk fan, I don't care how we get to the playoffs so long as we get there! Hopefully there's a pleasant surprise in this year's team - Holmgren's the man to find it if it's in there.

Kevin & Katie, put on a "Brown Nose" for me and a green touc (spelling?). Go 'Hawks!

Dead Sea Scrolls Report

It was pretty cool, but pretty frustrating in terms of the crush of people to see the actual scrolls – after going through a bunch of exhibits (that were quite good, mind you). After skipping a few and seeing the main ones I wanted to see – War Scroll, Ten Commandments from an Exodus fragment, and a couple others that are slipping my mind at the moment – I was struck with a pretty crazy thought. While nobody can pin it down directly, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that John the Baptist was an Essene (not enough evidence either way). But if he was I may have been looking at a fragment that he studied while in residence. Cool … at least for a geeky guy like myself.

To the more mundane, it was amazing how small their writing was, but it makes sense if they couldn’t just run to Staples on the corner to get more paper.

I’d recommend it to people if they get a chance, but I don’t know that I’d go see them again. Once was good … but enough.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls

Going to see them this afternoon. I don’t know what to expect, but I’d kick myself if I didn’t make the trip to see them since we’re in town. This is why I’m reading the book on Noncanonical Writings.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I had hoped to get my year-end review of my favorite books done, but I’m currently on vacation and have started a powerful novel, Silence, by Shusaku Endo. I remember a guy recommending it in a missions class I took in seminary – that was at least seven years ago. I didn’t know what it was about, but it is definitely not an abstract book of mission theory.

Rather, it is a novel about persecution in Japan in the late 16th, early 17th century. The persecution has been intense and two Catholic priests (thus far in the novel) go to see what is happening. They live in fear while they witness the bravery of peasants in squalid conditions – to the point of martyrdom. But there is a character who is a blatant coward; he has repeatedly denied the faith.

What haunts the priest is the bewilderment, amid this suffering, that God is silent. He is silent while these poor, faithful Japanese Christians are persecuted. It unsettles. Arguments can be helpful, but as they ring hollow when someone is in the midst of suffering, waiting to hear from God. And hearing silence.

I hope there’s some good resolution. Either way, this is a gripping book thus far.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Choose Your Weapon!

I ordered a bunch of stuff from a book publisher a few years ago (not sure which one) so they sent me a slim volume called A Mind for God by James Emery White for free. The only reason I’ve picked it up as of late is because I am always trying to find a good list of what I should read next. He has a list of books on “the great conversation” as an index. Anyway, as I’m slowly working through this little book he talks about building a library as an armory (hence, the title) in the world of ideas as we strive to have a solid Christian mind in our world.

If I get time, which is always a big “if,” particularly with Christmas shopping yet to be done, I want to highlight a couple of my favorite books for the year. Mostly as a review. I looked back at my reading list last year and couldn’t believe how much I read and how little I remembered. Maybe a little look back will be helpful in revisiting them at least a little bit.

Until then, what has been your favorite book of the year and why? What is your choice new weapon from your armory?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ordination #2, Art. 4b: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

I need to do a little more work on the place of regeneration in the salvation process, but besides that, here’s the rest of the Holy Spirit Article in the Evangelical Free Church doctrinal statement...

During this age the Holy Spirit convicts men of their sin that they might see the need for repentance (Jn. 16.8-11) and regenerates the believing sinner (Jn. 3.3-8; Titus 3.5), making the believer a new creation (2 Cor. 5.17). He indwells the believer (Jn. 14.17; 1 Cor. 6.19-20) as a “down payment” assuring our ultimate salvation (Eph. 1.14), serves as a comforter (Rom. 15.13), gives assurance of our adoption as God’s children (Rom. 8.16), and intercessor when words don’t come to us (Rom. 8.26-27). While He dwells in us, we are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5.18). The Spirit also empowers (Acts 1.4-5; Jn. 14.12) the believer for godly living, to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1.8). Sanctification is the work of God (1 Thess. 5.23; Eph. 5.26), but the regenerate believer is a partner in the process. As God works within the believer (Phil. 2.12-13), the believer “works out their salvation” by living according to the Spirit rather than their flesh (Rom. 8.1-21; Gal. 5.16-18). The result is character transformation (Gal. 5.22-23). The Holy Spirit also empowers for service. The gifts He gives are spiritual in nature (Rom. 12.6-8; 1 Cor. 12.4-11) and are given according to His will (1 Cor. 12.11). The church body is created to be interdependent (1 Cor. 12.21-22), with each believer having a gift (1 Pt. 4.10) for the good of the church body (1 Cor. 12.7), but nobody having all the gifts (1 Cor. 12.29-30).

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Fantastic Fourth!

Sure, it is four NFC West titles in a row, but winning four is better than not.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Way of Jesus: "Center of Controversy"

Tonight we looked at Jesus' conflict with the Pharisees over fasting and the Sabbath. Fasting was unnecessary because Jesus was the groom with whom his disciples are to celebrate. And the celebration is the something new that Jesus was bringing that was incompatible with the old ways of Judaism at the time. Jesus was bringing "new wine," knowing many would prefer the old wine of their custom or tradition.

Just as Jesus wanted them to experience new wine, it is our calling to be used of God to create a thirst in the lives of those around us who currently prefer their tradition (whether it be of the world or even a church tradition) to Jesus' new wine. So the questions are...

"What are you going to do this week to create a thirst for "new wine" in the lives of others around you?

What can we do as a group to create this thirst?

I go to one or two coffee shops pretty regularly, but I always buy a card and re-load it. That means I never tip (Horrible, I know). This week I'm going to put a big tip in - $20 or so - to make up for lost time and be a blessing to the workers at the main coffee shop I go to. What about you?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My Newest Heroes: Leigh Ann Tuohy and Her Family

I just finished one of my favorite books of the year (though January was a long time away), The Blind Side by Michael Lewis. I thought it was about football, and it was, but I found my eyes misting up from time to time as I was walking on my treadmill. There’s fascinating analysis of how football has evolved since Lawrence Taylor started destroying quarterbacks and Bill Walsh created the West Coast Offense. These two forces resulted in making the left tackle a most coveted position in football.

This effects the lives of quick-footed giants – or even potential ones – in high school and college changed significantly. Lewis follows a few years in the life of Michael Oher who was taken in by a wealthy Evangelical family. I get nervous when something mainstream involves Evangelicals. Not sure we’re going to get a fair shake. This was a beautiful book that made me proud to be a Christian and challenged me to make a difference in the lives of others on a micro level.
I won’t spoil it for you, but a rich white family took in a black high school kid who had essentially raised himself, but didn’t know how to function within the structure of school – let alone a white Evangelical high school. But he became a “Freak of Nurture” due to this family’s love for him and their commitment to his success, particularly due to the relentless, fiery mother of the family who would not let Michael fail or give up on him.

And Michael Oher has been a success. He’s the left tackle for Ole Miss, but his personal transformation is what is most powerful in my mind. He earned academic honors during his freshman year of college – a 3.75 GPA – to go with his athletic prowess. It is a great story of the change that all of us are capable of if we have someone who will walk with us and help us be the person God created us to be (Michael gave his life to Christ during his high school years).
I’ll close this post with a quote from the book, but first I want to encourage you to seek opportunities to do good, to make a difference in people’s lives to help them be all God created them to be.

Near the end of the book Michael was in trouble and he ran away for a couple days and they were wondering if he was gone for good, that he had used them and their generosity and was now done with them. Upon later reflection, Sean said something helpful for those of us who might say, “What if it doesn’t work? What if we get taken advantage of?” His words: “Your mind does funny things when it’s idle,” said Sean. “But that’s when I decided that the downside was that we’d helped some kid – so even if he’d been playing us all along there really was no downside.” No downside in helping people be who God created them to be … even if they end up deciding they don’t want it after all.

I won’t tell you if he came back. Go get the book – or I’ll loan you mine (with serious collateral).