November 27, 2004

Best of Me Symphony Time Again

I'm trying to get my act together and participate in carnivals and symphonies more often. I'm hoping that this coming semester I'll be able to do more, with my classes only meeting Thursday through Saturday.

Anyway, the Best of Me Symphony will be at The Owner's Manual. If you want to participate (and who wouldn't?), email Gary at gcruse AT netscape.com with your info. Only requirement is that the post be two months old or older.

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November 25, 2004

Things I am Thankful For

Ok, it's turkey day here in the States, and time for the obligatory "What I am thankful for" list.

  • I am thankful, first and foremost, for my salvation, by grace through faith.
  • I am thankful for my family.
  • I am thankful for the calling and the opportunity God has given me to attend seminary.
  • I am thankful that I finally got the turkey breast I bough fried (not to self -- it takes a LONG time to heat oil in my turkey fryer. Plan ahead next year!).
  • I am thankful that I live in this country.
  • I am thankful that I don't have kids in this school (hat tip to The Crusty Curmudgeon).
  • I am thankful for that second piece of pumpkin pie.

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November 24, 2004

'Left Behind', Date Setting, and Kristof

I'd figured my blogging was over for today. I was casually surfing through my bookmarks, and hit my link to Nicholas Kristof's page at the New York Times.

Time to fire up the blog again -- Kristof still doesn't get evangelicals.

You'd think as many times as people have surely tried to correct the man, he'd have figured a little bit out about this vast sub-culture called evangelicalism. But if you read his article "Apocalypse (Almost) Now", you'll understand what I mean.


Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the series, have both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture.
"We can't read it some other way just because it sounds exclusivistic and not currently politically correct," Mr. Jenkins said in an e-mail. "That's our crucible, an offensive and divisive message in an age of plurality and tolerance."
Silly me. I'd forgotten the passage in the Bible about how Jesus intends to roast everyone from the good Samaritan to Gandhi in everlasting fire, simply because they weren't born-again Christians.
Let me refresh your memory, Mr. Kristof:

  • And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15 ESV)
  • And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31 ESV)
  • he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 ESV)

It's clear that we are taught by Scripture that if you aren't in the book of Life, you will burn. Sorry if this offends anyones sensibilities, but it's true. And we don't get in because of the good stuff we do, we get in because of our relationship with God in Christ.

Kristof applauds evangelical social action, and our relief efforts throughout the world. Unfortunately, he misses the reason we do those things. They are not a means to an end -- we don't do them to score points with God, or to counteract the effects of all the bad stuff we've done. We do them out of a sense of service to God -- He has commanded us, as His children, to do these things. Point is, we become His children first, by faith in Christ, through the grace of God. Kristof, and liberals like him, put the cart before the horse: they put the good works before the faith (if they include faith at all). But the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Kristof then brings up the repeated attempts at date setting -- the whole 88 Reasons thing, and the Millerites I've talked about before, and ties LaHaye and Jenkins in with them. This makes me really wonder if Kristof has bothered to read the books -- never has any attempt been made at setting a date for anything that happens in the books. No references to Presidential administrations (which I've seen in other books in the genre), etc. They are writing about what they think will happen eventually -- not in ten years.

THEN Kristof calls them on the amount of money they've made -- even though Jerry Jenkins admits to donating 20-40% of his income to charity, Kristof says it isn't enough. This is a typical liberal response -- criticize the wealthy because they've managed to do something well enough to make a lot of money by doing it. The very fact that they are rich means they are corrupt. When Nicholas Kristof donates 20-40% of his paycheck to charity, I'll take him seriously. Not before.

So what we have is an attempt to 1) make Christians ease up on the whole "The Way, the Truth, and the Life" thing (I've talked about that before, too), 2) ridicule Lehaye/Jenkins for claims they never make concerning the timing of the end of the world, and 3) indict wealthy people because they're wealthy. This isn't unique to Mr. Kristof -- this is standard operating procedure for the left. I'm not buying it.

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Free Will, part 1

There has been a lot of discussion in the Reformed neighborhood of the Christian blogosphere on the subject of free will, or the lack thereof. I'm writing my philosophy paper on an aspect of the free will/sovereignty discussion (which I'll talk more about later on, probably), so I figured I'd weigh in.

First, if you want to take a look at what has already been written, check out these links:

  1. Jollyblogger on Free Will and Total Depravity (part of his series on TULIP)
  2. Parableman on Calvinism and Free Will.
  3. Pruit Communications, where Terry talks about his own Free Will Journey.
  4. Rebecca Writes about Isaiah 10.
  5. And Adrian Warnock promises us that There is No Such Thing as "Free Will."

The first thing I want to do is talk about the two definitions of free will. Most Arminians will advocate libertarian free will, which simply says that for every decision we make, we are always capable of doing the anything other than what we've done. For example -- this morning, I had eggs and toast for breakfast. Under libertarian free will, I could have just as easilly had steak and eggs, or poached eggs, or Corn Flakes. There is nothing that coerces us or forces us to do anything -- it's all up to us.

I see a couple of problems with this -- I don't know how to fix poached eggs, and my wife isn't home to fix them for me, so there's one option I'm not free to take. We have no steak, so there goes another option. We have Corn Flakes, but I like mine with milk, and we're out of milk (yes, it's grocery day!), so there goes that option. Doesn't sound like my will is very free, does it? Sounds like there are external factors that influence my decisions. Adrian mentions that even the laws of physics constrain our free will -- I can't climb to the top of my house and decide to fly, can I?

Most people don't believe in total, fatalistic determinism -- the idea that God has determined our every move, and that we are simly robots programmed to do what He tells us in every instance. Obviously, if we did that, God would take the heat for every evil act done on earth, because we're only robots performing according to our operating system that He designed and programmed. So there has to be another option.

Most Calvinists I know (and a LOT of people who don't consider themselves Calvinists) believe in compatibilistic free will. This holds that our will is free to the extent that we are given some choice, but not total choice. My breakfast decision was limited to the food on hand, and what I can cook. My college selection was based on what I could afford and who would let me in. I had the choice of several options for breakfast, and several options for college, but I was not free in the libertarian sense of the word. My free will had to be compatible with the influences on my life, both external and internal.

This sounds like determinism to a lot of people, especially once you factor God into the equation. An omnipotent God can manipulate things in our lives so that the circumstances and resources point us to only one option. I've been wanting eggs for a while now, and this morning was the opportunity that I had to fix them. The deck was stacked against me choosing anything else -- and that, some would say isn't a free choice. I would say that I was behaving in a manner that is compatible or consistant with my personality and situation.

There are some free acts that aren't possible in some situations -- that doesn't mean that we are any less free. That means that we do not have total control of our destinies: that, ultimately, we are slaves to something, whether that is our environment, our psycological makeup, or even God and His will. Our decisions are dependant on something, and that violates the definition of libertarian free will.

Coming soon in Part 2 -- how do we reconcile free will and divine sovereignty? Good question.

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November 23, 2004

Study of Mark -- Mark 6:45-52


Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
(Mark 6:45-52 ESV)

Jesus goes back on retreat. After this miracle, they all head back to where they came from, and He goes into the mountain to pray. I won't make the obvious application to personal quiet time/devotion here -- it's too obvious that if Jesus needed it, so do we. I think what happens afterwards is much more interesting.

While Jesus is off praying, the disciples apparently decide to do some fishing. This is sometime between 3 and 6 in the morning, but they're fishermen, so they know the best time to fish is in the early morning. They head out, and immediately get into trouble. They run into a headwind, and can't get back to shore, and they are panicking. I can just see Jesus sigh right now, and head out across the water to them.

This passage sounds like Jesus was just going to head right by them, but the parallel passage in Luke makes it clear that Jesus only seemed to be heading past them (Luke 24:2 . The disciples have no clue who He is.

Sounds like us, doesn't it? We're in trouble, cry out to God for help, and don't recognize it when it comes. Reminds me of a joke I used to tell when I was younger:

A man living in Florida decided to ride out the hurricane that was coming. Sure enough, the floodwaters started to rise, and soon he had to run to the top floor to stay above the water. A police officer came by and told him he needed to evacuate, and offered him a spot in the boat he was in. "No," said the man, "I'm trusting God to save me, and I know He will." A half hour later, another boat comes by, and makes the same offer. Same response. Finally, the waters are so high that the man takes refuge on his roof. A police helicopter flies by, and once again the police offer the man a ride to safety. Same response.

Finally, the waters rise too high, and the man soon drowns. He arrives in Heaven, and is rather upset. "I trusted You!" he sayd to God. "I trusted You, and You left me to die!"

God said, "What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter, what do you want?"

Even though the disciples had seen what Jesus could do, in the miraculous feeding of 5,000 people, they still didn't know who He was, and really hadn't understood what they miracle meant. They lacked the faith to see that Jesus could provide them safety, and assurance, and security. They missed the point, and they didn't see Him as their shepherd. They were so fixed on their one idea of a conquering Messiah that they missed the servant Messiah that was prophecied as well.

The theme of this section seems to be that Christ supplies all our needs. Our problem comes in when our expectations are different from God's. He knows better than we do what we really need, and what we simply want. We need to recognize what God is providing for us, and be grateful.

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You Might be a Baptist If ....

Ok, I got the idea from this post at Reverend Mike's, and some of these are probably NOT original (I've heard this done so many different ways), but here we go:



  • If you believe that Jesus fed 5,000 people with catfish and hushpuppies, you might be a Baptist.
  • If you have never sung the third verse to any hymn in the hymnal, you might be a Baptist.
  • If the first question you ask a pastoral candidate is, "Do you like chicken?" and question his salvation if he answers "No," you might be a Baptist.
  • If you've ever collected an offering using Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets, you might be a Baptist.
  • If you think that a Biblical benediction is seventeen verses of "Just As I Am," you might be a Baptist.
  • If, when someone says "AMEN" during a sermon, you look around to see who the visitor is, you might be a Baptist.
  • If your definition of "fellowship" involves fried chicken and sweet tea, you might be a Baptist.
  • If you believe that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be potluck, and leave instructions in your will to be burried with a covered dish, you might be a Baptist.
  • If you have a bumper sticker on your car that says, "In the event of Rapture, this car will be unmanned," you might be a Baptist.

Credit for some of these should probably go to Grif.net, though I'm really not sure which ones -- that's the one place I know I've seen a list like this before.

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November 21, 2004

Does Western Christendom Still Believe in God?

I need to define my terms first, because I'm using the word 'Christendom' in a different way than I usually do. I'm going to use Christendom to describe Western society in general, assuming (I think correctly) that much of Western culture, especially it's morality, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

I started thinking about this topic on Thursday in my Intro to Philosophy class, as we discussed Nietzsche's The Madman and it's claim that God is dead. I'll start by letting the text speak for itself:


Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"---As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?---Thus they yelled and laughed

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us---for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"


As of 2002, 85% of all Americans considered themselves to be Christians, according to the data at the Barna group. 87% of Americans say that they believe that God created the world. Only 69% believe that God is all-powerfule, all-knowing, etc. But clearly, there is a majority of people who claim to have some type of faith in God, most of them considering themselves Christian. But what kind of God do they really believe in?

  • 54% believe that being good enough gets someone into heaven. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
  • 60% say that Satan is not a real being, but the personification of evil. And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.(Luke 10:18 ESV)
  • Only 20% have volunteered time to help out a church. Only 25% volunteer time to help a non-church-based nonprofit organization. And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

We aren't consistant. We pay lip service to God, and deny Him by the way we live our lives. We're like the people in Nietzsce's parable: we are shocked when someone actually comes out and says there is no God, or that He is dead, but we live so that people cannot see Him through us. We lament the fact that our society has no moral base, that in essence God is dead, but we ignore the fact that we are the ones who killed Him, through our apparant unbelief.

We get upset about the risque commercials airing before Monday Night Football. What do we expect from a fallen society? What do we expect, when we have by and large abandoned popular culture, choosing to live in our Christian ghettos -- listening to our Christian music, reading our Christian fiction, watching TV on our Christian satelite channels. We rarely engage anyone who is not a Christian, and when we do, we find we have nothing to say. We cannot relate to them at all, on any level.

We have bought into the lie that faith should have no impact on our lives outside of the church building. We've also bought into a false notion of what the Christian life really is. We've forgotten that living the Christian life is more than "giving Jesus a try." It's more than becoming Jesus' best friend. Jesus really has become our "homeboy" -- He's one of the gang, He fits in. He doesn't tell us to change our lives. He doesn't tell us what to believe -- matters of religion are personal things. He doesn't expect us to make an impact on society.

We need to rediscover a faith that impacts every aspect of our lives, a faith that makes it impossible to live contrary to our beliefs. We need to recover a belief in a Savior who commanded us to go and make disciples.




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November 18, 2004

The DaVinci Movie

Yup -- by now I'm sure you've heard. The DaVinci Code is going to be made into a movie.

I have to wonder -- if Christians (myself included, I will admit) hadn't gotten so upset about this book, would anyone really have noticed it? I haven't read it, though I have been meaning to, but from what I've heard, the book isn't all that great. It's biggest selling point is that it gives "deep, dark secrets" about the Catholic Church. If we hadn't paid as much attention to it, the Catholic apologists out there would have taken it on with all the seriousness that they afford Jack Chick -- which is actually more than he deserves, and more than this book deserves.

I really think that this book would have had some moderate success without the "bad press" from Christian circles. After a while, people would have started talking about something else, and the world would have forgotten about the book -- untill the paperback came out.

Now, there are a couple more books planned, with the movie options surely being negotiated for them as well. I just hope they don't start with the anti-DaVinci movies.

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November 17, 2004

A Day at the Convention

I've only ever been to one Baptist state convention. I spent one day in Warner Robbins, GA at the Georgia convention, and was pretty much bored to tears. The conflict that everyone thought would happen didn't, so I spent most of the day wandering the exhibits and reading pamphlets.

So I wasn't expecting much yesterday when I went to the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Vote for the president, listen to the sermon, hook up with some people I know, that sort of thing.

I walked into controversy. In fact, if I didn't have a very important class this morning, I'd have gone back, and probably would have addressed the convention on one issue this morning.

Yesterday there was a proposal to study "how the KBC should relate to the Baptist World Alliance." A nine-member panel would be appointed to research the issue. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but we just DID that on the national level. The national convention has more money to sink into the study, and more resources, so why can't we simply review the data from their study and base our path on that?

Because a bunch of people in Kentucky don't like what the national study found. And I don't have a problem with disagreements -- unless you're the guy who sat behind me yesterday. He kept heckling people who were peaking against the proposal, yelling out "That's not true!!" -- but NEVER taking the mike and voicing his opinion. Truthfully, everyone's minds were pretty much made up on the issue before the discussion started, and the vote was narrowly opposed to the study. Individual churches who want to support the BWA can still do so -- that's the beauty of the Convention -- but churches who don't want to support them don't have to worry about their money going to the BWA

Another proposal (one that I was amazed even made it to the floor) was that we ammend the constitution of the state convention to allow "up to 25%" of the trustee board of state Baptist colleges to be NON-BAPTISTS. I have NO problem with people who aren't Baptists -- I am friends with good, conservative, theologically sound Presbyterians and Anglicans, with whom I agree to disagree on matters that are not essential to the faith (more on that in another post, maybe later today). But if the school is a Baptist school, shouldn't the people overseeing it be Baptist? The purpose of the proposed ammendment wasn't to give "greater diversity" -- it was to reward community members with large pocketbooks for donating to the school. State Baptist colleges are in bad shape anyway -- they are notorious breeding grounds for any number of heretical notions, from process theology to open theism and beyond. We need strong Baptist trustees who can take charge of our state colleges, and I'm hoping that we'll begin to see that in the next few years, especially in Kentucky. There is a reason that so many Southern Baptists send their kids to Liberty and Cedarville -- because they get a quality education AND orthodox theological training.

And this morning, the convention revisits the "pull our kids out of public schools" issue. By now, the discussion is over. I REALLY wanted to be there, but I know someone who feels the same way that I do -- and is a youth minister, so his words carry more clout than mine would -- and he was planning on being there.

All in all, an interesting experience. And next year should be even more interesting, I think, as both sides marshal their forces for a big showdown.

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November 15, 2004

Christian Carnival

To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature,
but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in
nature from a Christian point of view. Secondly please send only one
post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:

email ChristWeb at

christweb at gmail.com

Please put Christian Carnival in the Subject

Provide the following:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the post

Cut off date is Tuesday at midnight EST

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November 14, 2004

He's Getting the Band Back Together

World Magazine has it, but it was Jollyblogger who broke the news to me -- Jerry's decided that it's time for a reunion tour.

I was at Liberty when Jerry decided to retire the Moral Majority. I saw the revival that broke out on campus, just because we had a Chancellor who was involved, and was able to contribute spiritually to the university. It made a huge difference in a lot of lives.

And now, even though we've got the closest thing to an evangelical President that we've ever had, Jerry Falwell is gearing up for another try at influencing national politics, with the Faith and Values Coalition. He's turning over day to day operations at Liberty University to Jerry, Jr., and day to day at Thomas Road Baptist Church to Jonathan Falwell. Jerry, Jr. is a pretty good choice, with his legal background. I feel a little sorry for the folks at T Road, though -- looks like they won't get to pick their own pastor when Jerry fully retires from the pulpit. He still plans on preaching each Sunday, but he's handed the control of everything else over to his son.

I hope this turns out well. I really do. I hope that Liberty continues to be the school that it has become, and can improve without sacrificing the values that made the school what it is. I hope that the church grows, and continues to be a blessing in the community. I hope that Jerry will not forget that the church that God gave him to lead is his primary responsibility.

But I only expect to be disappointed. So the only hope I have left is that the Faith and Values Coalition will remain true to it's name, and not end up becoming the Christians for Republicans Coalition.

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November 13, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 6:33-44

Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
(Mark 6:33-44 ESV)

This is probably the most familiar parable of them all. Five thousand men (and who knows how many women and children) fed with a few loaves of bread, and a few fish. It's parallels are in Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-14 -- one of the few miracles that are mentioned in all four Gospels. I think that should show us the importance of what happened here.

Something bigger happened than just a bunch of people pooling their lunches so that everyone could have enough to eat. This is Jesus making sure that the people who had followed Him had enough to meet their needs.

Most of the people hadn't left their houses planning on following Christ that day. They saw Him, and decided they wanted to hear what He had to say. He could have easilly decided that the crowd was too big to deal with, and gone back to where He and the disciples had been for their retreat. But He was moved with compassion on them, because they were "like sheep without a shepherd." They had no real leadership, no instruction, nobody to take care of their real needs, and they didn't even realize it. They were just wandering around, and they saw in Jesus someone who might be able to meet their needs, and take care of them. They didn't realize who He realy was, but they knew that they could count on Him to meet their needs.

And then the test came. After listening to this guy teach all day long, they got a little hungry. They hadn't planned on sitting in on his teaching -- they were out running errands, maybe shopping. It was late, and they had to get some food. Jesus could have turned them loose, sent them out to buy their dinner, but He was their shepherd. He was taking responsibility to meet their needs. And He did it in a way that helped show them all the kind of power He had.

How often do we have needs, and panic? How often does the car break down right when funds are at their lowest, and we have no clue how we're going to pay for it? And how often do we sit calmly back and say "God will handle it. He's in charge, not me."

As familiar as this passage is, I think we often forget the message. My God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.

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November 11, 2004

This can't be good

You are a Gumby! You love smashing bricks together and wearing your hankerchief as a hat...
You are a Gumby! You like to smash bricks and say
things that no-one can understand...

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla!

MY BRAIN HURTS!!!

Thanks to the Spanish Inquisition.

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November 09, 2004

Caution: Facetiousness Ahead

It's 7pm, I'm typing my paper. My mind is not itself.

So I take a break, and decide to hit the "Next Blog" button at the top of the page a few times, just to see what will happen. Maybe I'll find someone who I can add to the blogroll. Maybe I'll find someone intelligent. Maybe ...

But no. I find a bunch of angst-ridden teenagers writing bad poetry about the boy who broke up with them to date their best friend's neighbor's sister's cousin, and how could he DO that, and other such nonsense. So I decided to try it out myself. I'm going to write som blog poetry now -- pure stream of conscousness stuff. Maybe I can finally be a cool teenager -- Lord knows I wasn't 20 years ago, when I was IN high school.


I see my two feet
sneakerclad, tapping my toes.
Going nowhere, fast...

The computer glares
The cursor flashes insults
My prose, it is bad.

Melanchthon is dull
So much has been written
All is in German.

People pass by me
They stop, staring at foolishness.
Bad poems on my screen.

Wow. I feel cool again. That was just so cathartic. I think the haiku is an underrated form of verse, don't you? So structured -- it's a challenge to get your thoughts to fit the meter. People don't write that way anymore.

Ok. Break's over. Back to Melanchthon, and you all can go do something much more constructive.

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Christian Carnival plug

Get something ready and submit it!! I'm rooting through all the drek I've posted in the past week to see if I have anything worthy.

This coming Wednesday is the next Christian Carnival, and will be
hosted at Digitus, Finger & Co. If you have a blog, this will be a
great way to get read, and possibly pick up readers in the process or
highlight your favorite post from the past week.

NOTICE: DUE TO AN OVERSIGHT AT PATRIOT PARADOX, NOT UNCOMMON IF YOU
KNOW ME, I FORGOT TO SWITCH THE DATES ON MY SITE. IF YOU HAVE SENT TO
CHRISTWEB THEN PLEASE RESEND TO NEIL. CHRISTWEB IS HOSTING NEXT WEEK,
THE 17th OF NOVEMBER! PLEASE EXCUSE MY BLUNDER! STEPHEN WILL SHOOT ME
NOW. :-)

To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature,
but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in
nature from a Christian point of view. Secondly please send only one
post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:

email Neil at

uchitel AT slappo.com

Provide the following:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the post

Cut off date is Tuesday at Midnight EST

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Sola Scriptura and Tradition

I'm hoping right back on this horse -- I think that our idea of Scripture is vital to the future of the Church, and I think there are a LOT of misunderstandings concerning the doctrine of sola Scriptura.

Of course, a lot of great information was available in the League of Reformed Bloggers carnival, Post Tenebras Lux. There is a wealth of information on the Net, too -- both good and bad. But I have to clarify this little issue.

Where does sola Scriptura stand on tradition? And specifically, how do we deal with this verse: "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." 2 Thes. 2:15 (ESV)

First, sola Scriptura does not ignore tradition. It does not mean that we ONLY accept what the Bible says, and avoid anything it doesn't talk about. I've said this before, but I still get people asking about it. Someone posted a comment at Jollyblogger, commenting on the carnival, that essentially was this verse and a rant about the Reformation. People still don't get it.

Tradition is important. But tradition does not trump Scripture. When Scripture does speak, we cannot follow a tradition that contradicts it. The verse from 2 Thessalonians teaches us that we need to listen to what we're taught, whether we read it or are taught it orally. That's all it says. But Paul teaches, just as clearly, that we are to test any teaching that we hear with the Word of God. That's what the Bereans did, when they encountered Paul's teaching -- and they saw that what he was saying was true. It didn't contradict Scripture.


Sola Scripture doesn't say anything about rejecting tradition. Anyone who has any knowledge of the Reformers knows that both Luther and Calvin quoted from the patristic writings. They didn't reject history, or historic teachings. They DID reject those teachings that they felt contradicted Scriptural teaching -- and that is what we must do today.

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November 08, 2004

A Few Things to Think About

From the Dallas News:

Forty years ago, the moral values – against abortion, and for traditional marriage exclusively – that motivated one out of five Americans last week to vote for George W. Bush were so mainstream as to be unremarkable. Gay marriage was unthinkable. Regarding abortion, a top Washington politician wrote this in 1971: "Human life, even at its earliest stages, has a certain right which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old."

The author of those words was not a Republican. It was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.


Head over to Jollyblogger for a great discussion on Bridging the Chasm.

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November 07, 2004

Two Little Quizes

This one seemed right on:





You Are a Religious Republican



You make up the conservative, Christian, dedicated core of the Republican Party.

You believe it's important for religious people to stand up for their beliefs in politics.

And for you, this means voting your conscience - which almost always means voting Republican.

Your pet causes include the sanctity of life, school vouchers, and prayer in school.




(via Farther Steps)

And no blog would be complete without the obligatory Monty Python reference:
You are Tim the Enchanter! Sure you can blow up small objects, but no-one really respects you. But you'll have the last laugh...MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
You are Tim the Enchanter! Sure you can blow up
small objects, but no-one really respects you.
But you'll have the last
laugh...MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


Which Monty Python & the Holy Grail Character are you REALLY?
brought to you by Quizilla

(via News from the Great Beyond)

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Study of Mark -- Mark 6:30-32

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
(Mark 6:30-32 ESV)


Short passage today -- I hope to have the rest of the chapter up by the end of the week. The priority this week has to be the theology paper -- 12-15 pages due Friday, about the theological method of Philip Melanchthon.

And a more ironic passage I could not have used. After teh interlude where Mark tells us about what happened to John the Baptist, the disciples return from their teaching trip (verses 7-12). They tell Jesus about the things they did -- but we don't get to know. This is one of those places in teh Bible where I really wish we got more information -- what happened? Were they able to cast out demons? Were people receptive of them? Did anyone come back with them, to learn at the feet of Jesus? We don't know.

I figure that's for a good reason. The teaching that the disciples were doing didn't have the power of the resurrection behind it. They taught that the Kingdom of God was coming -- that Christ had arrived, and that He was going to establish His kingdom. Without the truth of the resurrection, though, that could have been misunderstood. We've seen examples already, and we see a great example in Acts, of people who expect Jesus to be the political Messiah they were expecting. That wasn't His goal -- He came to be the sacrifice for our sins. Without redemption, without the reconciliation between God and fallen man, the Kingdom of God cannot be established. Fallen mankind has no part of the Kingdom -- that is for the redeemed of the Lord.

I expect that there were people who became interested in Jesus, probably started paying more attention to His teachings. I wonder how many were still there after He was killed. That's probably the other reason we don't know about the results of this trip -- many were not true conversions. You've seen those if you've ever gone door-to-door on a Saturday morning.

The part of this passage that gets me the most is the last part. They've just finished some hard work -- their first, really, since they started following Christ. They're tired. They may be frustrated. So Jesus suggests a retreat.

If you've spent any time in Baptist churches, you know what a retreat is. You take a bunch of people, in the middle of summer (or fall, sometimes. I always went to the summer ones), go out to the middle of nowhere -- usually the middle of the woods, near a lake, on some property that the church owns. Bunch of cabins, a kitchen building, a chapel, and nature. Time to recharge -- physically and spiritually.

This is something that I think we tend to ignore. We're so busy doing God's work, we burn ourselves out. We end up being no good to anyone, and our other responsibilities (family, friends, etc.) tend to get ignored. We make the sacrifice -- and never even think that our loved ones never got a choice in the matter. They sacrifice, too. And sometimes, they don't like it.

We don't have to go out in the woods. All we need to do is take a time out, to take care of the other things God has given us.

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November 06, 2004

A Frightening Day, and other political rants

I just read Kristof. And I agree with him.

This is tough to admit. And I don't really like the implications of what he has to say -- especially if the Democrats listen to him. He's basically callling the Dems to pay attention to the people that they just assumed would vote for them.

I'd like to see the Democrats become more than the ultra-left version of ultra-right Republicans. This election was painful -- mainly because for so many people, there wasn't an option. I am very impressed that so few people fell for the third-party candidates -- it show that the American people at least know that you have to have some kind of backing in Congress to make any impact.

What I'm hoping to see, in a couple years, is a third party who actually cares about Senate seats. A third party who wants to work in state politics. A third party that is as concerned about winning the governor's mansion as the White House. That would be a third party that is in it for the long haul. And it would be a third party that would have a credible chance at the White House in 2012 or 2016.

It might even be a third party that I could support. The Libertarians could do it; so could the Constitution Party, if they got a little more realistic in their foreign policy. The Green party could do it, though they will still end up skewing further left, just as the Connies would skew further right. A viable third part would make politics interesting again for a lot of people.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 03:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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