Saturday, December 31, 2005

Settling Down

Well we are officially moved and are settling into our home in Louisville, KY at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have made a friend quickly and Krista and I are going to church with him and his wife tomorrow morning (Clifton Baptist Church). My classes start on Tuesday, Jan. 3rd. I can hardly wait, I am taking two courses, each from 8 am to 5 pm for five days. The first the 3rd- 7th and the second the 9th-13th.

History of the Baptists, with Gregory Wills, and The Doctrine of God, with Stephen Wellum. I am very excited for this to begin and can hardly contain myself.

For those of you who are praying for us, please pray as follows:
- For Krista, she is having a hard time being so far away from her family.
- For my classes, that I will do well and work hard.
- For a Church, that we will find the place God would have us minister and grow while were are in Louisville
- For Jobs, both Krista and I need to find jobs soon.
- And for our relationship, moving is stressful!

God bless and talk to you soon.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Get Your Kids out of Canada

I was deeply saddened and alarmed after I read the news this morning. WorldNetDaily has reported that Canada's most recent Supreme Court Decision legalized group sex clubs with 14 year-old-Children! My heart breaks for the famalies of Canada and for the numbers of children who will, undoubtedly, be manipulated because of this law.

WorldNetDaily reported this morning, "The Canadian Supreme Court ruling that redefined obscenity for that nation and legalized group-sex clubs, combined with Canada's unusually low age of consent – 14 – will result in an influx of pedophiles to America's neighbor to the north, contends a former consultant to the U.S. Justice Department. " I am inclined to believe this to be true, and all I can think to say is get your kids out of Canada! As absurd as that sounds, as un-educated and seemingly foolish a response as that may seem, I confess that at my young age I don't know how one fights a decision like this. It seems that the flow of liberal culture within Canada is increasingly allowing more and more decisions like this. It was only a few years ago that the decision to label the Bible as hate crime passed in Canada, here is further evidence that sin is the motivating factor of the will outside of Christ.

The fact that God saves anyone from among this sinful race is amazing! The fact that He saved me is often doubly amazing. When we read about news like this it only confirms the truths of the Bible that man is born in sin, his heart is corrupt and dark and he hates the light (which is Christ). Yet it is also true that God, in His amazing grace, is drawing people to Himself from all over the world through His Son Jesus Christ- even from Canada. It is now the place for Strong evangelical churches to stand up and redeem the culture in Canada. In this regard perhaps the goal for Christians is not to flee Canada but for more of us to go there and proclaim the gospel to a culture in need. May we pray for such revival- Our God can do it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Someone mentioned to me recently that they were unable to post comments on my blog due to their not being a member- I have since fixed this problem and now anyone may comment.

I welcome your comments and am looking forward to hearing from you all.


Come Friday Krista and I will be on the road and moving into our apartment in Louisville, KY. We are very excited about the next three years and we are already seeing God's providential hand at work. Before we have even arrived or met anyone from the area we have made contact with a local family who has offered their friendship and help to us. The Lord is so gracious.

We covet your prayers at this time as we move. Please pray that our transition would be smooth and our arrival and my registration would go well. I know that Southern Seminary will be a wonderful place for us and I still hold open that invitation to the young men who are interested in possibly attending Southern in the future. If you find that you want to examine the Seminary and need a place to stay our home is open to those of you we spoke with. As well we look forward in the coming months and years to see some of our dearest friends from Southern Ohio as they come to visit us.

Be sure to check out the new links I've posted, the new book reviews available through the Spurgeon School's Library, and the new resources coming soon through Sovereign God Ministries (all of them free to you).

Monday, December 26, 2005

Solo Femininity

I certainly don't have a clue as to how difficult it is to be a godly woman it today's age, Carolyn McCulley, however, does. I know, from watching my wife, that there are many difficulties that women face on a daily basis, and she is aware that single women have a sometimes even more difficult time. To help and encourage single Christian women, and other women in general I have added a link to Carolyn McCulley's weblog. I encourage you all to check it out and it might be wise for us men to occassionally drop in and see how we might be able to better help, encourage, and love godly women.

Christmas Re-Cap

Krista and I have had a very wonderful Christmas celebration with our families. It was, over-all, I believe, a Christ-exalted time. I am thankful for both our families and for their love to the Savior. I have been both nourished and encouraged, as well as stuffed full of good food.

Some of the highlights of the week:
1) Krista and I exchanged gifts on Wednesday, due to the number of parties that we were attending throughout the week. We spent some time in prayer, reading scripture, reading advent poems, and signing some good Christmas hymns and it was for me...a thoroughly blessed time with my wife. We've also started a tradition of giving each other a biography of some famous Christian figure from our heritage. This year I gave her the biography of the three wives of Adoniram Judson, and she, in turn, gave me the biography of Jim Elliot. It was wonderful.

2) Christmas with the Arricks, that is Krista's family, was a time of great laughter and joy. We were able to rejoice in sharing gifts with one another and there was a great amount of fun that came from watching our nephew Bryce on the first Christmas he was old enough to take part in.

3) Christmas with my family too had some wonderful treasures. I was particularly blessed by the reading of Scripture and family prayer that we have been doing since as far back as I can remember. The fact that my parents committ to this every year, even after their children are older, is a testimony to their love for the Word of God. I am thankful for this and for their loving my wife and their daughter-in-law in such an astounding way.

4) The eating was for me, particularly, a wonderful part of the festivities. Good food is always a joy, but the amount of hard work put in by each individual who cooked is quite an amazing part of the season. That people are so willing to work toward making others happy is a wonderful part of celebrating Christmas as famalies.

5) Being able to remember the birth of our Savior and Lord with those whom I love was a beautiful and wonderful thing. Whether it was through song, reading the scriptures, or simply visiting and talking about the incarnation. Praise the Lord that even something like this, which is nowhere perscribed in the Bible, can have such a blessing to His people. I pray that the Lord was glorified in the way we celebrated.

I am thankful for the number of ties, shirts, and coats that I recived as gifts this year but I am mostly excited about the additions to my library that were gifts. I look forward to reading and writing reveiws of many of these books.

What was the highlight of your holiday?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Hymn, Part 3

I am Continuing to give good Christmas hymns to sing for the Season. I have opted to give one that everyone is familiar with. Many of the traditional Christmas hymns contain rather ambiguious or even weak theological statements, but Joy to the World! The Lord is Come, does not!

Hymn: Joy to the World! The Lord is Come- Isaac Watts (1719)

Joy to the world the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room, and heav'n and nature sing,
and heav'n and nature sing, and Heav'n, and heav'n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sin and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love, and Wonders, wonders of His love.

Merry Christmas everyone, from David and Krista Dunham!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas is the Season of Oppurtunity

Often when I have asked individuals where they go to church, giving them the benefit of the doubt, they identify the church which the attend twice a year. These two occassions are, of course, Easter and Christmas. These two holidays almost always seem to draw the un-converted out of their homes. I am not quite sure why exactly, but I know one thing: Christmas is a season of oppurtunity.

Many churches will be holding services this Sunday, in spite of the growing trend to cancel service due to Christmas falling on Sunday. But their services will really consist of little more than a few Christmas carols, a children's program, and a five minute moral lecture about thinking of others or thinking about Jesus in the manger. Christmas is, however, one of the few times a year where the church gets to show the world what exactly it exists for.

The Church does not exist to entertain or to encourage good moral living. The Church exists to glorify God! Will your church services this week aim at showing the lost amongst your congregation that we take sin seriously, Jesus is not just the reason for the season but the reason for all of life, and that the worship of God is a wonderful and awesome privilege?

The lost world can get enough holiday cheer, and good moral lessons from the Christmas television specials. The Grinch, A Christmas Story, and A Very Brady Christmas are airing everyday and families and individuals get enough holiday cheer that the Church does not need to add to it. So instead of bringing the non-Christian Christmas "Christian style", just bring them Jesus- straight forward, simple, and without all the gimmicks! That is the best way to help this season.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

One of the many benefits of the Southern Baptist Convention is its Cooperative Program. This program allows churches to work together in providing funds for the mission field. In this program missionaries do not have to return home every year to raise their own funds, but they are permitted to continue doing the work on the mission field un-interupted while the SBC, through the giving of local churches, provides them with the funds they need.

Every year there are also two special offerings taken up. The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. These offerings honor two influential women from history who were highly invovled in missions and raising support for missions. The Annie Armstrong offering is for North American missions and the Lottie Moon for International missions. Each is important.

I am writing today to encourage those of you who are members of SBC churches to be sure and give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. 100% of this offering goes to those on the Mission field. It is used for the support of 5, 122 missionaries, many of whom greatly depend upon this giving. God has called all of us to be concerned about the Great Commission. And we must either go into the world or we must stay behind and, to quote Anderw Fuller, hold the ropes for those who are going. That is we either go or support those going through prayer and giving. The Lottie Moon Christmas offering is one way to do that. Give generously for the glory of God and knowing that it will be used to keep missionaries on the field. It is a real blessing to be a part of such a ministry.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Weak Evangelical Response

Last night a two hour Barbra Walters special inquired from religious figures across the spectrum, and the world, about the place of heaven and how we may get there. Her "findings" were not really that suprising. Most, assured her that heaven was a place that everyone eventually got to go where there was good food, family, and no sorrows. The most frequent response was something to the effect that heaven will be a place where you can eat all that you want and never gain weight.

There were a few responses that considered heaven to be a state of mind, an existence unknown, and Mitch Albom (author of The Five People You Meet in Heaven) seemed to suggest that heaven might simply be a concept that is only meant to make this life better. All these answers how ever were not suprising. These are the same assertions that I have heard from numerous non-believers, it was the fearful and unassertive response of the only evangelical interviewed that did suprise me.

In the interview Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, was asked if those who do not accept Jesus as their savior will go to hell. His response? "I think so." I was saddened to hear President Haggard say this. His geniune concern to not offend is a noble thing, but when such concern affects honest answers to non-believers it is wrong. His statement that those who are not Christians will have to "Work out their eternity, and there is no guarantee," is completely false.

I believe that President Haggard is a genuine believer and a good man, but in his attempt to please the world and make Christianity appealing he has stated a complete falsehood. There is no "working out your eternity" without Christ. And there is simply not a lack of guarantee for non-believers to get to heaven there is in fact an impossibility for non-believers to get to heaven. Hell is their destination, and while this is a sorrowful statement we must be honest with people. If we "beat around the bush" or fear to offend then we will never tell people they are sinners, which means they will never see a need for salvation from the wrath of God.

President Haggard you fell short of your responsibility to speak the truth, may we all learn from this and accept our duty to speak honestly and gently to the world about sin, salvation, and hell.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Three Elements of Biblical Preaching

Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, finished, yesterday, a three part series of articles on the development of a theology of preaching. In a day and age where preaching has continually been manipulated, watered down, and even done away with this was a much needed series.

Preaching within the church is not a suggestion, argues Mohler, it is a command. God ordained the preaching of His word and it should be the center of the Sunday morning gathering of the church. In this particular series Mohler listed the three essential elements to crafting a biblical theology of preaching.

1) Preaching is Founded Upon the Word of God- The Christian church preaches because God commanded it and because it is His word that we most desperately need. A preacher must preach, because God has said so. This puts the seriousness, and the awe of preaching back into place. Today the sermon is belittled, if not bodly condemned. Either preachers deny the significance of the preached word or they assert their own power in preaching it. Both of these extremes find no place when we realize that this is God's word and God's rule!

2) In part two Mohler established the second key to a biblical theology of preaching: Preaching is Centered on Christ- Every message, every sermon, indeed all of scripture focuses on Jesus Christ. Any sermon that ignores the truth of redemption accomplished in the death and resurrection of Christ is in fact not a sermon. The Gospel is the major theme of the whole scope of Scripture. If preachers do not call men and women to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ, if the aim is not to point to the cross and the glory of God displayed there, then they have failed in their task. Many men preach today on self-help, motivation, living up to your full potential, but they leave out the message of Christ. Preaching is to be Christ centered because self-help, motivation, and good lives mean nothing without the cross!

3) Finally, in part 3, Mohler states that Preachis is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit- It is not within the preacher to bring about change in his hearer's hearts. If we preach without the aid of the Spirit we merely speak dead words. If we forget the work of the Holy Spirit in preaching we will succumb to pride, ineffectiveness, and even sin. When we recognize the work of the Spirit in preaching, however, we find strength to speak the truth, a removal of the fear of failure, and a humility that honors God.

This is a great three part series that all Christian Pastors should read and be encouraged, edified, and corrected by. Biblical Preaching means preaching out of the Word, on the Person and work of Christ, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit. You can clearly see that it is a Trinitarian work!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mistakes, Tears, and Lessons

In reading through both world and evangelical news today I came across the following stories which I wanted to share with my readers in hopes that they might be an encouragement and means to edification in your lives.

1) Read Josh Harris' blog for today. Harris is the pastor of a large Sovereign Grace Church in Gaithersburgh, Maryland. He had originally decided to cancel services on Christmas Sunday in order to allow their churches numerous volunteers to spend time with their families. Harris has since realized that this falls right in line with the world's philosophy and that they, as God-centered Christians, would be missing an oppurtunity to point to the significance of God's established and ordained gathering of the church. Check out what he has to say (you can click the link Josh Harris' Blog under my links section).

2) Don Whitney, author/speaker, faculty member at Southern Seminary, and founder of the Center for Biblical Spirituality, has announced that he has cancer. It is a very sad thing. At this time let us all be in prayer for him and his family. You can check out the update from Don on his website and I believe he provides us all with a wonderful picture of how to endure trials.

There is much to be learned from such godly men as Dr. Whitney and Josh Harris. Especially for those of us who are young. I have been increasingly convinced in the last few days of the great need to learn from wiser men. God has given us young ones a line of great teachers and "fathers in the faith". Learn from them. Read them, inquire of them, and model them insofar as they glorify God. In the coming days I will be writing on a wonderful book for pastors- "Dear Timothy" if you do not own a copy of this book, get it!

Proverbs 19:20 says, "Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days." God says it- seek wise counsel!

John Piper on Holiday Depression

John Piper's most recent devotional book Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life is a wonderful addition to the author's already terrific reputation and as a devotional writer.

As I was thumbing through its pages yesterday, however, I came across a word on holiday depression. Chapter 34: "Does God really Want You To Be Encouraged? On Seizing the Gift of Hope. Meditation on Hebrews 6:17-18" This two page devotional study on a specific text out of Hebrews deals with the subject of taking encouragement from God's word.

Piper begins by writing, very observantly, "Holidays are dangerous times of discouragement. The expectations for gladness are higher, so the realities of sadness are heavier." How difficult the holidays are for some of us. I am blessed to be young and surrounded by a loving wife and other family. Under the shelter of a warm roof and full of good food. Not all, however, have such blessings. For some the holidays are a sickening reminder of lost loved ones, abandonment, and merely the indicator of another passing year of their fading life. Piper understands that many will feel this way and he offers this pointer to great encouragement.

"May I offer this preventative medicine?" Now the Word of God is implemented for the stirring of sadened souls: When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He added an oath, so that through two unchangeable things [the promise and the oath], in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17-18, author's translation)

By focusing the readers attention on three phrases from within this selected passage Piper shows us the answer to thew question- Does God Really Want You To Be Encouraged?

1) God desired to show more convincingly- "This text assumes that God had already said enough to give us encouragement. But God is not a God of minimums. His aim is not to speak as few encouraging words as possible. He speaks some words to give us hope. Then, being the effusive God He is, He...speaks some more words of encouragement. " "But not just more. They are better. He moves from simple promises (which are infallible and infintely trustworthy) to oaths...He desires to show-prove...demonstrate...point home- the hopefulness of our future. He really wants us to feel this." "He 'desires' [it]."

2) That we might have strong encouragement- Piper continues, "How encouraged does God want us to feel? Hebrews 6:18 says, 'Strong encouragement!' Note the word! He might have said, 'great encouragement' or 'big encouragement' or 'deep encouragement.' They would all be true. But the word is really 'strong.' Encouragement that stands against the seasonal downers. Preach this to yourself: 'God desires me to have strong encouragement!'"

3) To seize the hope set before us- Finally the author concludes with these wonderful words. "There are good times in this life. But let's face it: The days are evil; our imperfections frustrate us; and we are getting older and moving toward the grave. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ we are of all people most to be pitited (1 Corinthians 15:19). There are good times yet to come in this life. But fewer. And even these are rubbish, compared to the surpassing worth of gaining Christ in death (Philippians 1:21). Even here we can rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But only because there is a 'hope set before us.' Reach out and seize it. God encourages you to."

I hope that you will read those words from Piper, more so read the words from God in the Bible and find that there is still encouragement to be found for those who find the holidays sorrowful, and yet trust in Lord.

Christmas Hymn, Part 2

I am continuing, this week, to list some good, theologically sound, Christmas Carols. Yesterday I listed the hymn of an Old English Baptist from the 1600s, Benjamin Keach. Keach would most certainly not have called the work a Christmas hymn, it was not until the late 19th/early 20th century that Christians began to accept Christmas. Today I am listing a wonderful classic hymn by Charles Wesley. Also I have added a link, in the links section, to a site called Reformed Praise. It is a worship website that provides the music to some worship songs with great theological foundations and messages. You can find songs from the past and the present on it. I encourage you to check it out.

Hymn: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus- Charles Wesley (1774)

Come, thou long- expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's Strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver, Born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever, Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to thy glorious throne.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Advent Poems, 2

It's the third Sunday in Advent and here is the Third Advent Poem: I encourage you to use these with your family, or better yet, make your own.

A Better King Than Hezekiah- Micah 5
The Third Sunday in Advent

The populace of Judah, swarmed with Israelites
And Hezekiah’s chamber could be seen in the night.
The lanterns glowed late one evening as he sat up in bed
Pondering over words that swam round in his head.
“That prophet has been proclaiming, for many a day now
That the Lord is angry with Judah, and how
Judgment from His mighty hand is coming to destroy
All that our people have built up to enjoy.
He says that the rich and powerful of our land
Are overpowering the commoners by sheer force of hand.
He tells us that God is coming down to pour out all His wrath
For we have forsaken the covenant and strayed from the righteous path.
What am I to make of such a preacher as this?
His preaching is giving me nightmarish fits!”
“What if Micah speaks true,”
The King wondered, “What are we to do?”
“He speaks of a greater King? Greater than I!
One who’s also from that ancient Davidic line.”
“O, my King, forgive me for speaking so plain.”
The voice of servant said as he came
Into the room with a smug little smile,
“Pay no attention to this, rest for a while.
This prophet speaks not what is true,
For I know and as well as do you,
That no king would come from Bethlehem,
For it is the least among all of our clan.”
Though Bethlehem was, among all of Judah, least
She did bring forth a King, who rules not only in the east.
Born of a Virgin in this little town,
Was the King of Kings with the most glorious crown.
Though Hezekiah did not know who this ruler would be
We read these verses and we know and we see
That the one prophesied of here
Is Jesus the savior whom we hold so dear.
And as we celebrate the Christmas season
We recall what is the real reason.
God told this to some men:
That Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
And God in His sovereignty had foreordained
That many sinners of all kinds would one day be saved!

Christmas Hyman, Part 1

This year I have discovered that many Christmas hymns turn out to be somewhat disapointing. There are some that while they are treasured, traditional songs for the holiday they are somewhat shallow, ambigious, and even pointless. In light of such a revelation I have decided to post, this week, a number of theologically sound Christmas hymns that my young family will certainly be singing for years to come.

Today's Hymn: Awake, My Soul, Awake, My Tongue- Benjamin Keach (1696)

Awake, my soul, awake, my tongue, My glory, wake and sing,
And celebrate the holy birth, the birth of Israel's King!

O happy night that brought forth light, Which makes the blind to see;
The dayspring from on high came down To cheer and visit thee.

The careful shepherds with their flocks Were watching for the morn,
But better news from heav'n was brought: Your Savior is now born!

In Bethlehem the Infant lies Within a place obscure,
Your Savior's come, O sing God's praise! O sing His praise for e'er.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Iraqi Elections Should Silence Critics

One would think that with 70% of the Iraqi's showing up to vote last week many of the critics of President Bush's plan for a free Iraq would be silenced. Those who have repeatedly called for a complete pullout, and abandonment of the war in Iraq should be open minded enough to recognize this as a movement towards victory. This is not the time for arrogant and ignorant criticism, it is not the time for pure party support, but for encouragement and for yet another push to advance the good going on in Iraq.

Andrew Sullivan wrote last week, "I should add that pure domestic partisanship on this matter - and even recriminations and criticisms of the past - need to be abandoned in America right now. We are asking the various Iraqi factions to put the past behind them and work constructively for a better future. President Bush is the commander in chief for the next three years - the crucial years for Iraq - whether you like it or not. It is in all our interests - Democrat, Republican and Independent - that he succeed. Scoring points - as distinct from making clear and constructive criticism - is not what we need right now."

That is well said. And while I am not naive enough to suppose that the devotion to liberalism, or republicanism, will be abandoned for the good of the cause I h0pe that many will say with one jouranlist, "everything I thought I knew [about the war in Iraq] is wrong."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Wayne Grudem's Christian Beliefs

The success of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology led to a condensed version of the work titled "Bible Doctrine". The amazing success of this smaller work, however, has now led to an even more condensed version of his theology text- this one a small book titled "Christian Beliefs".

This newly released introduction to the basics of the Christian faith is unique book. It combines both the quality explanations of a master theologian while keeping the details simple. While it is certainly a major condensation from Sytematic Theology and even Bible Doctrine it is not shallow in its deliniation of these major doctrines. It is an excellent book for beginning Christians, or for those who are not expereinced in reading theology. In 144 pages, dealing with twenty distinct doctrines Grudem helps to build up a foundation for future Christian theological development, something all believers need.

Check it out here:

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Book Review in Articles Section

I've posted on the articles page a book review I did a while back on Kris Lundgaard's spectacular modernization of John Owen's great works on sin. I recommend the book to you all and if you're interested in know what this book is about you can read my review under David's Articles.

Why Preaching?

As many churches cancel services for Christmas, others will un-doubtedly be doing some sort of holiday program in place of the traditional Sunday morning worship service. Yet the supplanting of the preached word with these productions raises many questiosn about why we should have a sermon at all, on any given sunday. To help us answer this questions Al Mohler has written a wonderful commentary on why we preach.

I encourage all those in the ministry, or thinking of being in the ministry, to read this commentary (as well as the two articles that are to follow it in the days ahead). But not only should ministers and pastors, and pastoral students read this but all Christians should consider this questions: Why do we preach? The sermon is not a mere man made idea, it is God-ordained and thus when our churches see the importance of the preached word and return it to its central place in the gathering of the church then reformation to the body of Christ will come.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wisdom Teeth and Al Mohler

Well I just had my wisdom teeth cut out yesterday, but I am doing suprisingly well. The pain is only mild but it has certainly made me not want to talk much (which for those of you who know me must find that quite amazing). So instead of lengthy conversations I've turned to some good reading on the web. Perhaps that sounds like an oxymoron, but my links prove that there is such a thing as good reading on the web.

Most particularly is the weblog of Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His daily commentaries and running blog are among the most informed writing on the web and one entry from this week stands out to me. Under my new section on top stories of the week you will find his review of some recent research done by Gene Edward Veith of World Magazine. The artile titled "Why December 25? Don't Believe What YOu've Heard" suggests that the selection of Christmas Day for the celebration of Jesus birth actually has little to do with the pagan holiday of Winter Solstace. I encourage you to read it and follow it up with your own research to come to a decision on the issue.

Regardless of the day, however, the fact remains important that we praise the Lord for and think often on the glorious incarnation of the Son! It is important whenever you celebrate it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Updated Links

I added some new websites to my links section which I think you will find very useful. I've known about them for sometime but for some reason or another I failed to include them initially. For those of you interested in worship you will enjoy Bob Kauflin's weblog- Worship Matters. Bob is the worship leader at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. His music is rich in Biblical Theology and his experience allows him to give good wisdom to others. Investigate and enjoy his blog.

Also I've included a link to the reformed Southern Baptist Group- Founders Ministry. Pastors and students will especially want to read the blog of Director Tom Ascol, as it provides helpful commentary on both SBC life and evangelical community at large.

New to the blog world is Joshua Harris whom you all know as the author of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". Harris is now the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church, where C.J. Mahaney use to pastor. He is a godly man and a pastor who knows how to have fun, I encourage you to read his blog as well.

Also under the churches I have added Bigelow Church which is small local church from Southern Ohio. My good friend Brian Evans is the assoc. Pastor there and if you are in the area looking for a good church here is one.

The Christmas War and the Evangelical Holiday

John Gibson's latest book expresses exactly what many evangelicals are upset about, "The War on Christmas". Everything from stores expressly denying their employees the right to say "Merry Christmas" to banning Christmas trees. It has caused many in the Christian community to not only protest but to flat out boycott. There is indeed some discrimination going on against Christians in this supression, yet I find a bit of irony in this "call to battle".

It seems to be spreading like wild fire, every couple of seasons more and more churches join the bandwagon and wrestle with the question of whether or not to hold services on Christmas day. It's ironic that so many this year are choosing to cancel services. Due to Christmas Day's falling on a Sunday this year many pastors and church staffs have decided that it is too much of a hassell to conduct service on that morning. It interupts family time and assures a low turn-out. It is amazing to me that these same Christians can be furious about the removal of Christmas from the secular community, yet find no alarm in the removal of Christ from the Sunday morning gathering. While Christians will go to war over Christmas, they will take a holiday from church.

This is simply another indicator of misplaced priorities. If Jesus is the "reason for the season" as so many quipp, then what does it mean to cancel services on Sunday because it is the day we celebrate Christmas? This seems like the most backward stand I have seen from our community and I am, frankly, dissapointed and saddened by it. Let's put the war aside, and let's put Christ back to the center of all seasons!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Advent Poems

Last year I started writing a series of Advent Poems that take Biblical accounts and detail how they point to Christ. I encourage you to use them with your family throughout Advent, or better yet- Write your own! Here are the first two:

The Promise of Restoration- Genesis 3:1-15
-The First Sunday in Advent -

It was a sad day in paradise
The day that sin came into life.
Adam and Eve failed to obey
And now were punished and as they
Now contemplate
All that God had said of late
They remembered words of joy
A prophecy of a baby boy.
“Did God not foretell,” Eve said aloud
“In cursing that serpent, how
One would someday restore
Sinners to their gracious Lord?”
“He did indeed, my lovely wife,
Say such a thing of great delight.
That a savior would one day come
And crush the head of this evil one.
But I recall one other thing
That our God spoke in this cursing.
That this savior who would crush the skull
Of this serpent, would be struck also.”
“Yes I recall,” she said with a tear,
“That the heel of the child will bear
The bite of the snake that I should receive.
God has put it on another and me He relieves.”
And so the two sat in deep thought
But we know what this prophecy taught.
That Jesus was the child here described,
Who was born of a virgin, lived, and died.
He is the one who crushed Satan’s head
By His death and resurrection. And bled
To cover over a multitude of sins.
And now as this time of the year begins
We celebrate the birth of this one
Who came as a virgin’s son.

Ahaz and the Sign from God- Isaiah 7
-The Second Sunday in Advent-

During the reign of Ahaz, who was king
Of Judah, Isaiah said this thing
That brought hope to all who heard
This prophetic word
Declaring the coming defender
Who would reign forever.
He would abolish the trappings of war
Israel’s shield and defender and more.
His birth was prophesied.
Earlier Isaiah cried
“His name shall be Immanuel
God with us,” he did foretell.
“What to do, what to do?” Ahaz said with worry.
“Syria and Ephraim come to attack with furry,
What are we to do?” The king was pale and scared.
But God told Isaiah that Judah would be spared.
And so the prophet went to console the King’s great fear
But the king was mighty stubborn and would not even hear.
“Ask the Lord for a sign, to show that He will do
All that He commanded me to speak to you.”
“I dare not test the Lord,” spoke the King.
“That would be a dreadful thing.”
“Because you, O’ King, weary the Holy One
He will give a sign to show that He will save some.
And though Assyria, in whom you trust, will come and destroy
God will save a remnant from within Judah’s convoy.
This is the sign, hear you all,
The virgin shall conceive and the child call
Immanuel, God with us,” the prophet spoke.
“And as for those kings who threaten a deadly stroke,
Before the boy can choose right or wrong
These two kings you dread will be long gone.”
So the prophet said this thing
In the hearing of the King
That a baby would be born from a virgin womb
And this little child is the one in whom
We find our salvation, hope, and life
God incarnate, the man Jesus Christ.
Indeed the virgin did conceive
But for the King this prophecy did not relieve.
And so this sign was not one inviting repentance
But instead one confirming the sentence
Made by God for the King’s sin
And made for us who do trust in Him.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Special Narnia Links, and Aslan Study

For December only I have posted a section of links to Narnia related material, which will increase as I find material. After december it will be gone so if you're interested in any of it check it out now.

Also in the coming weeks I will be doing a study on the figure of Aslan and writing an article on the character and his representation of Christ Jesus. Look for this on my articles page, accesible under "links".

Aslan- The One True King of Narnia

Last night, for our date night, Krista and I saw the premier of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When Lewis, the author of the book, was asked about the production of a movie based on the work he stated that he did not want a film representation of the book. Partly, I am sure, because he didn't think anyone could properly portray part I must agree with him. Even in this day of stellar computer graphics the books paint a more beautiful picture of Aslan, Narnia, and victory than does this new movie. Nonetheless this is an astounding film!

I can honestly say that I was blown away by the emotion, the quality, and the consistency to the book that was contained in this film. Few movies are ever going to parallel the original work of an author as well as this one has. It's not perfect to be sure, and the books, by far, exceed the film, but it is an amazing reflection of exatcly what I believe Lewis wanted to convey in the book.

The Character of Aslan in particular continues to grab attention. The movie does a terrific job of portraying the Lion King just as Lewis has done within the work. His giant stature, emotional outflow, and terrible roar are remarkable. It is, however, the thickness of the Christian allegory still kept in the film that I loved. Repeatedly during my viewing I was compelled to think of the truth behind the fiction.

Aslan, as a the Christ-figure of the work, is an amazing character. One thing for certain that Christians can take away from the Chronicles of Narnia is a fresh reminder that Jesus Christ is not a wimpy Savior. Far to often with think of Jesus as this helpless victim, but Lewis knew better. He portrays Christ in Aslan as the Awe-inspiring Lion who lays down His life for the Sheep. Jesus spoke those amazing words in John 10, "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one has taken it from Me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I recieved from my Father" (John 10:17-18, NASB). This is the victorious Jesus of the Bible and this is the wonderful reflection painted in the astounding figure of Aslan, which even this film gets right.

Go see Narnia and think upon the victory of Christ in the Cross as you do!

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Big Bad Christian Wolf?

The response to the new film based on C.S. Lewis classic work The Chronicles of Narnia, which premeries today, has been amazing and varied. The Christian community has embraced it with open arms as a relief to the decadence of the modern movie. The secular community, on the other hand, has been some what more skeptical.

The fact that the tale is so heavily laden with Christian allegory makes it a prime target for those anti-religious groups out to rid the world of anything Christian. They do of course fail to see their own blatant hypocrisy when they decry groups for protesting films such as Brokenback Mountain (a tale of two homosexual cowboys). Nonetheless many are profoundly outraged by Narnia. Some call it racists, others, through misinterpretation, identify it at sexist. Thankfully this is not the consensus of all in the public sphere, however.

As I have said many Christian leaders have endorsed it, but what are others in the secular community saying? For starters Ebert and Roper give it Two thumbs up. That's a place to start. One editor for Maxim Magazine labels it as a film to be remembered, another writer fo US Weekly says it is an "Oscar Front-runner".

If you've read the books at all you have to wonder with Rich Lowry "Who's Afraid of C.S. Lewis"? He's become the big bad wolf of Christian entertainment, but I commend the film to you all and more so do I commend the books.

Read Rich Lowry's article for a good laugh:

The Danger of Complacency

As I have been preparing to preach this Sunday I have been wrestling with the text of Zephaniah 1:12. It reads as follows:

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, the Lord will not do good nor will He do ill.

The word complacent in the ESV is a translation of the Hebrew which literal says "thickening on the dregs". The phrase refers to part of the wine-making process. When sediments in the wine are left undisturbed they thicken and setlle to the bottom, it is a word picture that Zephaniah is using to point to the indifference of Jerusalem's citizens toward God.

Oh what a dangerous thing complacency is! In this context it has led to faulty theology. These men who have grown apathetic are now re-interpreting the entire scope of Redemptive History- "The Lord will not do good, nor will He do ill." But the Lord had done both good and ill to His children. He brought them up out of captivity in Egypt, and when many disobeyed in the wilderness He punished them.

And one thing that is easily forgotten is that God does not ignore sin. Bad theology and indifference towards the Lord do not go unpunished. He searches them out in this text- here a poetic language used to indicate that God leaves no one unpunished. Bad theology and complacency may be harder for us to notice but God sees all and knows all and it is not only the public sins that will be punished (as indicated by v. 8) but also private sins.

For non-Christians Zephaniah is a book that calls you to confess that you are a sinner and believe upon Jesus for Salvation, for Christians it is a book that reminds us that God disciplines those whom He loves like a loving father disciplines his children who disobey. It is a reminder that our indifference towards God does not reflect His indifference towards sin!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sickness and Rod Parsley

I've been down with some virus for a few days, it's not been pleasant at all. The most upleasant part, however, has been the waste of time. The sickness has kept me from a great deal of study and I haven't felt much like reading so I have been forced to lay about and flip through channels or simply sleep. As I restlessly changed channel after channel on the television though my notion that there is nothing of value on television anymore was re-affirmed.

One broadcast, however, still remains in my mind. As I was passing station after station I came across the "preaching" of Pastor Rod Parsley, who is a charismatic pastor from World Harvest Church in Colombus, OH. I thought I'd stop and listen for a few moments. His antics on stage are not only bizzarre and ridiculous but I was even more shocked by the words that I heard coming from his mouth. Here is a man who profess to believe the Bible yet on several occassions I heard him make completely un-biblical statements, the most terrifying one being to the effect of the following: Many of you say you are tyring to get away from Satan, but did you know that Satan is trying to get away from you!

This all spoken while a goofy old organ drummed up some spooky sound in the background. It is this sort of nonsense and un-biblical proclomation that repeatedly point to the dangers of the charismatic movement. I do believe that there are wonderful friends and Christians within this movement, but there are many flaws with its poor theology and open view of revelation that promote pure emotionalism and complete error far too often. This is not to suggest that there is such a thing as the perfect church! Certainly I haven't found it! But there is such a thing as striving to be a Biblical church and abandoning such a pursuit, which is far to often the case of our Charismatic friends. I dare say that sickness in my body this week has reminded me again of sickness within the body of Christ.

Let us continue to pursue godliness in our churches, starting with ourselves, and let us pray for God's Holy Spirit to revive His children to holiness yet again.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Coach Carter and Abortion

This last weekend Krista and I watched the film Coach Carter. I was pleasantly suprised to find that this is a decent film. The story is naturally good and compelling, and Samuel L. Jackson does a terrific job portraying Coach Carter. I don't think it is an excellent film, but its decent.

There is one message, however, in this film that is so repulsive. In portraying the hard life of a inner city highschool students the directors made the decision to invovle on student in a relationship with another young lady whom he has gotten pregnant. Certainly this is sad but it is probably most true to life. The repulsive message, however, comes when the young woman decides to have an abortion and the director has painted this as a beautiful and glorious picture. Now that she has had this abortion the young man can go off to college without feeling any regrets and the young family can begin without the worries of becoming trapped in a low social class status. This is a sad and sorrowful picture! The murdering of innocent children painted as a beautiful ending to the film is quite distressing to me.

It is the accepted philosophy of our cluture. It is indeed a sad truth that many families find themselves trapped in low social class status, dead end jobs, paycheck to paycheck living yet the idea that aborition will resovle or should be the right response to this situation is sad and wrong! So over all I'd give Coach Carter a D in film rating. The story is good and Jackson is a good actor but there was far too much about this film that was horrific to me, perhaps most distressing is that the films take on life is probably generally well accepted.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Russ Moore and the Witches Curse

I pointed out yesterday that Russ Moore has written a new article, which he gave at the ETS Confrence this year, on male headship. It is a worthwhile article to read that clearly and biblically argues for God-ordained roles in the home and church. Since the release of this article and the speech, however, many have responded to his use of the word patriarchy, most notably a self-identified witch!

An organization of Witches online has responded to Moore's call for a return to Christian patriarchy by requesting that he be re-incarnated as a barren woman in a patriachal society. I don't think Moore has much to worry about, but his response and the actual article are both available online at the Carl F. Henry Institute, which you will find amongst my links. If the word patriarchy concerns you I suggest reading this article before you too make the blunder of discounting Moore.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Good Topics at ETS Confrence

On November 16-18 the 57th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society gathered in Valley Forge, PA to hear from some of the Evangelical communities premere theologians and scholars. It seems as though this years gathering touched on some great topics.

The focus seems to have been the Early Christian Church, in particular response to the DaVinci Code the gathering examined the early church's comprehension of orthodox theology. Some of the other talks, however, have caught my attention.

Among Southern Baptists two talks in particular caught my eye as important. Leading Baptist scholar John Hammet spoke on the subject of the "Emergent Church." This new movement within evangelicalism is still quite small but is gainning ground rapidly, recently I have even run into folks intrigued by it. Hammet's talk focused on the concern that the movement as a whole is being driven not by the word of God, but by a concern for the postmodern thinkers. It seems that he has crafted a well thought out argument against Emergent Church approaches, yet has not been as quick as some to completely label them as condemned.

Russ Moore, the vice-President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke at this years ETS gathering as well. In his talk on November 17th he called for a complimentarian response to Evangelical egalitarianism through a biblically based vision of male headship. His words are a great need in this day of continuing maritial failure within the church. Jeff Robinson, writer for the Baptist Press, quotes Moore as having said, "Many evangelicals unwittingly live as femminists." Such a statement surely will raise eyebrows but it is unfortunately true. Male headship needs to be restored in the church and it begins with God-honoring husbands who love their wives as Christ loved the church!

These two topics caught my attention, there are, of course, many more that are worth noting but I encourage you to think through these two issues. They are unrelated issues but both must be handled by confronting them with the Word of God and dealing with the Scriptural anlysis of the both the Church and absolute truth, and male headship.