May 31, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 2:18-22

18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 19 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins."


A little bit about the fasting: Jews in Christ's time were expected to fast twice each week. Old Testament law only established one fast day each year -- the Day of Atonement. Jesus didn't expect his disciples to follow the extra-biblical rules and regulations of the Pharisees. Fasting was commonly associated with mourning -- Jesus made the point that there was no reason to fast, since He was still with his disciples. There would come a time when He wasn't with them, and that would be the appropriate time to fast and mourn.

Jesus then teaches in two parables -- the cloth and the wineskins. The point of both parables is the same -- the Gospel cannot be associated with or tied to the self-righteousness and man-made traditions of the Pharisees. God's grace made any man-made attempts at pleasing God irrelevant, and in fact showed that any such attempts always fell short.

Old wineskins didn't have the elasticity to hold new wine as it fermented. In the same way, the traditions of men often hampered the spread of the Gospel, as Judaizers tried to keep believers bound to the letter of the law. as Christians, we must be careful that, while teaching believers that there is a lifestyle of holiness that we are called to, we do not make holiness a condition of salvation -- as many tend to do. Christ forgives us of our sins, and His righteousness is imputed to us -- it's nothing that we can do ourselves.

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My Memorial Day

Memorial Day hasn't been the same for me for three years. Three years ago, on the last day of exams at the school I was teaching at, at 7:45 in the morning, I was told to call my mother. At the hospital.

My Dad always had high blood pressure, and was on a variety of medications at different times to try and control his arhythmia. On May 25, 2001, he lost the fight, and went home to be with the Lord.

My Dad was a member of the Air National Guard in Washington DC during the late 50s and early 60s, right before he and my Mom got married. For a while in the early 60s, he seriously thought he was going to be called up and deployed in West Germany. After leaving the Guard, he started working at the Defense Mapping Agency. In his career, he designed mapping specifications that made field maps much easier to read -- many of his specs are still in use today by the US armed forces as well as many NATO member nations.

We had never considered that his military service gave him the right to be burried at a National Cemetary until the day he died. We made the phone calls and found that he was entitled to a military burial. We knew that Dad would have loved that, and so we laid him to rest on May 29, 2001 at Barrancas National Cemetary onboard NAS Pensacola.

I get home close to Memorial Day each year. Today, when we went out to the cemetary to put the flowers, I was as impressed as always with the flags on each grave. I noticed this year that more poeple were there than had been previously -- I guess things are making people more mindful of the service that the military provides.

I wish sometimes that I could just celebrate the start of summer on Memorial Day. I'd love to just cook burgers and dogs, swim a little bit, and relax. After all, it's the first official day of that time of year all teachers love -- summer vacation. But I can't do that. My Dad's memory won't let me, and it won't let me forget the thousands and thousands of others who gave their lives in the service of this country -- and those who continue to do so daily in the Middle East.

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May 29, 2004

Schedule note and more

I'm going to get back onto schedule this week. Mark study on monday night, and TiCH on Wednesday. Assuming this laptop behaves itself, that is ...

I've got a lot to do this week to get ready for school -- please be praying that I can get everything done.

I'm also working on a few things to post here -- one on music, one on Bible translation, and a few others. I'll try to spread them out, so there will be one or two a day for a while.

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Today in Church History

May 30, 1416.

Today marks the death of a reformer, Jerome of Prague. Hevilly influenced by his friend and mentor, Jan Hus, Jerome brought John Wycliffe's teachings to Bohemia.

Jerome studied at Oxford in England for several years before leaving to spread the Lollard teachings throughout Europe. Eventually, he was arrested and charged with heresy. After imprisonment and abuse, he finally recanted, only to go back on it in public later on. He was finally burned at the stake, convicted of heresy.

Modern Christians, especially Protestants, tend to forget that the Reformation didn't happen overnight when Luther posted his 95 Theses. Reformation ideas had been spreading for over a hundred years -- as soon as people were able to read and study the Bible in their own language.

This was the basis of Wycliffe's teachings. He taught that people should be able to study Scriptures themselves, and be taught in their own language. When the monopoly on Scriptural literacy had been broken, people began to realize that what they had been taught was wrong, and they were outraged. In many cases, their reactions were worse than the offenses against them. It was only the political situation in England that kept Wycliffe from igniting the Reformation a hundred years earlier -- with people like Hus and Jerome helping to spread the word on the continent.

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Study of Mark: Mark 2:13-17

13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”


Jesus takes on a controversial disciple in this passage. Tax collectors were NOT looked on with high regard; in fact, most of them were known to augment their salaries with extra taxes charged to people. And He catches some heat for it.

This happens a lot in the Church today. Hang out with fellow Christians and nobody has a problem. Start hanging around with "those people" and there will be trouble. Whether it's a bus route with underpriviledged kids, or simply people from a lower economic or social class, befriending people who are "below" us can result in a lot of complaints from the people of God.

We forget that none of us are righteous on our own. Our righteousness only comes from Christ -- and His righteousness can be imputed to anyone, even the worst of people in the worst of circumstances. Too often, in our zeal to show how good we are, we cause people who need Christ in their lives to ignore the message of Christ.

Christ reminds us why He came. NOT to call the righteous -- they should know their sins, and know that they need to confess. He has come to call the sinners -- the people who need Him the most. The people who we meet every day. It is our calling to reach out to these people, but we may lose our chance simply because they aren't "our kind" of people.

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May 26, 2004

Christian Carnival is UP

Head over to Parablemania for the Christian Carnival -- 15 Christian blogs that are outstanding reading!

(oh, and I forgot to mention in my previous post -- 100 posts!! WOO HOO!!!)

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May 25, 2004

Back in a few!

We're headed out on a whitewater rafting expedition, so no posts tonight. Possibly tomorrow, then Thursday we head to Florida to see my Mom. I'm taking my laptop with me, but I don't know if I'll have a chance to post regularly. I WILL post some -- although I've left a few big ones for everyone to digest!

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May 24, 2004

Here we go again ....

So, I'm trying out my new RSS reader, NewsDesk (which is awesome, btw), and one of the blog feeds that comes pre-programmed in the software is Kuro5hin. So I'm reading along, and I come across this article.

Christian Reconstructionism. The Great Evil which Plagues American Politics (tm).

{sigh}

I wouldn't mind these articles if they got the information right. I wouldn't mind it if they didn't try to lump every evangelical Christian into the Reconstructionist camp. Newsflash, folks -- there are very few real Reconstructionists. Unfortunately, the differences are downplayed by everyone and his brother, to try to paint us all with a very broad brush.

I'm not going to rant about the intersection between Christianity and politics -- I've done that already today. What I AM going to do is try to set a little of the record straight.

The problem seems to be where Reconstructionists agree with orthodox Christianity. All Christians believe that God should be the center of every Christian's life (another point I've discussed before). This is the nature of faith. I don't know of many Christians (though I'm sure there are some) who don't believe in the return of Christ for His Church -- the Bible clearly teaches this. The point of contention is when. Most Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God. This is an ongoing debate between myself, Back of the Envelope, and Parablemania.

The thing that bugs me is when people say things like this:

Much of the modern conservative agenda ties in closely with Reconstructionist beliefs, and are frequently in lock-step with them.
Modern conservatism is based in a belief in small government -- something that is attractive to Reconstructionists. Simply going the same direction that someone else is doesn't imply a close tie with them.
Environmentalism - Obviously if you believe that a divine entity has given the Earth to you for you to use as you will, you will be angered at those who seek to stand in your way.
Actually, having a Diety give you responsibility (which is what the Old Testament concept of dominion entails) over the world demands that you use resources wisely (the basic point of stewardship). This is why many evangelical Christians are paying more attention to environmental issues.

Civil Liberties - Liberty and freedom are not terms that appear very frequently in Reconstructionist writings, since so much of Reconstructionism is in direct opposition to the principles of freedom.
On the contrary, the very basis of evangelical Christianity is the freedom we enjoy in Christ.

I'm not going to do a thorough fisking of the article -- suffice to say that the comments made about Reconstructionism show clearly that it is at odds with evangelical Christianity, and most flavors of fundamentalist Christianity. Any resemblence between actual policy from the Bush administration (or any other administration, for that matter) is more the result of coincidence than any direct influence that Reconstructionists have. Don't worry everyone -- if they try to create a theocracy, evangelical Christians will be on your side, opposing it.

Of course, everything I've said kinda spoils the stereotype of evangelical Christians, so I doubt anyone will pay a bit of attention to it. I'm finding out that nobody in the world really has any tolerance at all. Not that this surprises me or anything.

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Ok, let me hear it

Tell me what you think of the new color for the side panels. I'm messing around with some combinations right now, and my wife will tell you that I stink at that.

I like the old color better, but I'm having trouble with the link colors -- unless I go with viewed links and active links as the same color. Let me know, and give me suggestions. If you want, you can email me at wkelly42 AT adelphia.net.

Thanks!!

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What is up with THIS?????

Click this link, and see what I'm going on about. If this were a British sit-com (OR a Monty Python sketch), I'd be a gruff policeman coming up repeating "Right! What's all this, then?"

I read this article in the hopes that someone had gotten a late start on April Fool's Day -- or maybe Internet April Fool's Day is actually May 24, or something like that. But no -- these people seem to be quite serious.

I've made my own opinions on the topic of Christian politics pretty clear before, I think. But I really think that this needs to be addressed.

This is a stupid idea. Stupider than all Christians leaving public education. No, this nation is not perfect -- far from it. Yes, we probably have a different idea about the Constitution than the founding fathers did. And society in general has really gone to the dogs, in spite of having Christians in government. So what we're going to do is -- create a Christian government. All of our own.

First of all, we've already got Christians in government, and it isn't working! What makes you think that a new government, run by Christians for Christians, will be able to do things better? Sure, you won't have abortions, you can put blue laws back in force, etc. So what happens the first time a Presbyterian wants to baptize a baby, and the local Baptist church gets mad because that's "un-Christian"? What about the Catholic church down the street that has organized gambling (bingo) to help fund it's activities? Gambling is a sin, after all -- at least it is in many churches.

Problem is -- whose version of Christian government do we implement? Baptists believe in a separation of Church and State -- no State-run religion for us, see what happened when Constantine did it? -- Government-organized councils deciding church doctrine! None of that for us! Or do you go with the liberal State that is giving to the poor and needy -- free health care, etc. -- Jesus said to do it for the least of these, right? And this is a Christian government, right?

Can't be done -- unless you only let Christians of your particular denomination in. And if you're a Baptist, good luck. Put two Baptists in a room together, you'll have three opinions on everything. We're troublemakers -- that's our job. In the body of Christ, we are the Achilles tendon -- important, but if we get irritated, everything stops.

Let's look at the problems they have with the US:

* Abortion continues against the wishes of many States
* Children may not pray in our schools*
* The Bible is not welcome in schools except under strict FEDERAL guidelines
* The 10 Commandments remain banned from public display
* Sodomy is now legal AND celebrated as ?diversity? rather than perversion
* Preaching Christianity will soon be outlawed as ?hate speech?¹²
* Gay marriage will be foisted upon us in the very near future


Abortion continues -- there's a solution for this: teach kids about Jesus! Jesus changes lives! Jesus changes hearts!

Children may not pray in schools -- bull! Kids can pray anytime they want to, as long as a teacher isn't leading the prayer. With all the complaints about heathen in public education, do you really want them teaching your kids to pray?? Not me -- I'm teaching my own to pray, and letting her know that nobody can keep her from praying.

Bible not welcome? My wife kept hers on her desk all year long -- at a public school. Did her devotions during her planning period -- at a public school. Get a clue before you spew this garbage. There were kids all year long who read their Bible openly at lunch, and nobody could stop them. It's the law, guys!

Preaching outlawed as hate speech? Doubtful. If they do it, they'll have to put me in jail, just like they did to the apostles. I won't run away from people who need the Gospel. Preaching is illegal in many parts of the world, and there are God-anointed people preaching in underground churches every day to throngs of believers. Run if you want to -- I'll stick around and do God's work.

Gay marriage? See my first point. Tell them about Jesus, and He can change them!

{sigh}.

This stuff gets me fired up. I'm tired of American Christians whining about how terrible things are, and how rough it is to be a Christian. There are people in the world who would give everything they own to have things as "rough" as we do. We haven't had enough persecution, in my not-so-humble opinion. We've got too many Christians who are comfortable, and when their comfort zone is violated, they want to run away.

I'm not running. If they make it illegal to preach, who knows -- I may become a preacher after all. If they ban the Bible, I'll buy a press and start printing them. I'm not going to go off to some Christian Utopia and bury my head in the sand and let the rest of the nation go to Hell in a handbasket.

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Happy Birthday, Nick!!

It's now Monday the 24th, and it's officially (by East Coast time, anyway) Nick Queen's birthday. So head over to the Patriot in Exile, and sing Happy Birthday. I think he wants a new hosting service for his birthday -- someone help the guy out!!

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May 23, 2004

What is Worship?

Christian Counterculture this month is devoted to worship. What is it? How do we do it? How don't we do it?

I like their definition of worship. ". . . living a life that betrays a deep, inward belief in God and His promises". They take this from Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."Romans 12:1 ESV

Worship is a lot more than singing catchy songs with your hands in the air. Worship is more than an hour every Sunday morning, an hour Sunday night, and then an hour Wednesday night. The very definition of the word worship in the New Testament is tied to the word service. The word latreuo is translated variously as worship and service throughout the New Testament by the KJV, but almost always as worship by the ESV. The implication in Greek isn't just service, but service that is not compelled or forced. We worship God in what we do for others, not how we act in church!

Worship leaders: Are you showing your church how to serve God? Are you showing them how to live their lives as living sacrifices? Or are you leading a few catchy choruses and calling that worship?

In his Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes has this to say:


This is the offering which the apostle entreats the Romans to make: to devote themselves to God, as if they had no longer any claim on themselves; to be disposed of by him; to suffer and bear all that he might appoint; and to promote his honor in any way which he might command. This is the nature of true religion.


So our 'reasonable service' (KJV and NKJV), our 'spiritual worship' (ESV) is total, 100% devotion to God. We have no claim to our lives -- we belong to God. But do we live that way? When we do, we can truly say that we are worshipping God. Otherwise, we're just singing trite songs.

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Through the BlogRoll

Just really quickly, a few things of note from my blogroll that you all might have missed:

Parablemania has a great post about different translations of the Bible that is must reading. He takes a rather complex subject and makes it pretty easy to understand. And I agree with him, for the most part -- I'm still torn as far as the Byzantine Text vs. Alexandrian Text arguement (and it's NOT because I think that everything that comes out of Egypt is evil -- a typical KJVO arguement). My two main Bible translations are the ESV and the NKJV -- one modern and one TR. I'll probably be out of seminary before I get this issue finally resolved in my mind. I just wish more people would educate themselves on this subject -- it would eliminate a lot of confusion and conflict.

Over at Patriot Paradox In Exile, the judging for the first round of King of the Blogs is in: I came in fourth, but it was a CLOSE fourth. I'll do this again in a few months.


Jollyblogger has a great article about Al Mohler's idea of theological triage. I think I need to start reading Mohler's blog regularly; but if I don't, I know I can read Jollyblogger and get the good stuff.

One of my favorites, and something I'm going to talk about a bit later, maybe Monday or Tuesday if I don't get it finished tonight, is from Dialog:Breaking the Bubble. It's from more than a week ago, but I really think that every "godblogger" should sit back and think about it. I'm not talking about bloggers who just happen to be Christians, but Christians who write Christian blogs. What are we writing them for? More exactly, who are we writing them for? I'll give you my answer as soon as I figure out what it is, exactly. In the meantime, go check out Michelle's blog -- she's got some interesting stuff there.

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May 22, 2004

I Can't Stop Laughing!!!

Finally go over to Holy Observer -- the new issue came out about a week ago.

For the CCM haters out there, the people who think that CCM needs to have more theologically deep lyrics, check out this article particularly. And PLEASE download the MP3. I'm burning this to a CD and cranking it up next time I go cruising ....

They also weigh in on the Jesus Merchandising Trend (tm), which is getting to be a pet peeve of mine as well. Especially after I saw the merchandising for The Passion.

I could go on, but then you wouldn't have to go there, so go there, read, and come back!

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Somebody Agrees With Me!! (Sort of)

Rev. Jim West has authored a resolution for presentation at the Southern Baptist National Convention that is pro-public school. I am especially encourages by West's statement that "We're supposed to minister to the world, not be afraid of it."

Now, I don't think that Southern Baptists fear the world. There are things we don't like about it, but we're not afraid, and I'm not sure that this resolution, the one that prompted Rev. West's resolution as well as my article from May 15, was made out of fear of the world. I think that the intentions were good -- eliminate a bad influence from our kids. I just don't think that pulling Christians out of public schools is the answer.

As I said before, there are a lot of Christians in public education. We are as vocal as we can be -- and you'd be surprised at what we're allowed to do. Any questions we're asked, we can answer. None of my students were surprised to see me filling out paperwork for Southern while they were taking a test a few months ago. It comes down to knowing your rights, and being willing to defend them.

In a discussion on another forum, I was told about a student who was threatened with suspension for reading his Bible during silent reading time. I was told this was an example of how bad public education is. It is actually an example of how little people understand the rights of Christian students in public schools, because this was patently illegal. It's something that I've wished happened to a kid at my school -- I'd love to be in on that kind of battle. I think even the ACLU would back us up on that one, the law is that clear. I was told that the parent didn't want to make waves.

That's the problem. We'd rather be comfortable. We don't want to have to answer any tough questions. If the going gets tough, we'd rather jump ship. I have no problem at all with Christian education, or homeschooling -- we've considered both for our daughter, because she won't be going to public schools if we're still living here when she starts school. NOT because of poor influences, or 'secular humanism', or anything like that. Because I want her to learn something, and the elementary schools around here are pathetic. There were seventh graders this year in junior high who couldn't read. Eighth graders who couldn't tell time. And they were passed on, because otherwise their self esteem would be hurt. These kids don't know what 'self esteem' means!!! And we have to make sure they can pass a graduation test that none of them can read. That's No Child Left Behind. But that's another rant for another day.

I'm glad that someone in the SBC has stepped up to defend Christians in public education. I'd love to be at the Convention this year -- it should be an interesting fight.

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May 21, 2004

Patriot Paradox In Exile

Just got this email from Nick Queen at Patriot Paradox:



As many of you probably know by now my site, Patriot Paradox went down
recently due to bandwidth issues. It will re-open at www.patriot-paradox.com on June 1st, but until then I have opened
a site up, in exile, at s88888536.onlinehome.us.


Stop by and let him know you heard about it HERE!!!

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May 20, 2004

Today in Church History

March 20, 325.

312 bishops of the newly-legalized Christian Church meet in Nicea at the behest of the Emperor of the Roman Empire himself. Their task? To determine, once and for all, what the Church believes about the nature of Christ -- was He God, Man, or both?

The conflict started because of a teacher named Arius. Arius claimed that Jesus was simply a creation of God. He was the first creature, but only a creature. Hi substance and nature were not the same as God's, and there was a time when He did not exist.

In the other corner was Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He was appauled at the suggestion that Christ was less than God. The dispute caused conflicts all over the Empire, and Emperor Constantine wanted it stopped -- quickly.

Many of the bishops present had suffered greatly under the rule of Diocletian. They had risked their lives for the faith, and for Christ. They couldn't stand to see this man Arius make Christ into a simple man -- He was God incarnate! When a bishop rose to defend Arius, they tore the speach from his hands. The conflict threatened the unity of the Church.

After much debate and arguement (and there IS a difference between the two!), the issue was finally resolved. God and Christ were the same substance (in Greek, homoousion). Christ was co-eternal with God. But in many ways, Nicea only started the theological ball rolling. Later councils would argue about the nature of Christ, the virgin birth, and other Christological concerns. But without the Council of Nicea, there would have been no starting point at all.

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POLL Results!!

Ok, here are the results from the poll. It was my first poll, and I may or may not do more. Results were interesting:

NKJV -- 40%
NASB -- 20%
RSV and NLT -- 10% each
Other got 20% of the 10 votes I received, but only one person told me what their other was -- the NRSV.

None of my KJVO buddies from the Fundamentalist Forums showed up, obviously. Interesting that the top two are two of the three main versions I use -- the ESV being the third. I'm using that one more and more lately.

BTW -- I WILL have the TiCH (Today in Church History) post up later. I apologize for not doing it yesterday -- we had a death in my wife's family, so we were getting ready to have company descend on us. I'll have it up shortly.

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The Truth Is Out There

I had to call Illuminati Central about this post. I worried that it gave away too much of our plans.

They said not to worry -- it sounded sarcastic enough that people wouldn't believe it. And I THINK that Kate is in on it all, anyway. Good job!

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May 19, 2004

My Life: The Movie?????

Deep in the heart of Southern Ohio, a conversation is taking place ....

Him: I called that guy from Hollywood back this afternoon. You won't believe what he wanted to talk about?
Her: Let me guess -- View From the Pew: The Movie?
Him: Nope. ME: The Movie.
Her: WHAT??????
Him: My thoughts exactly. Apparantly, there's interest in the lives of seminarian/bloggers. Somewhere.
Her(chuckling obnoxiously under her breath): So what kind of movie is it going to be?
Him: Good question. Problem is, my life isn't consistant enough for a movie. It could be a drama about a loving husband and father who has to spend time away from home to get his education. Could be a comedy about some of the stupid things that father has gotten himself into.
Her: Really!! Remember that time ...
Him: No, I don't. It could also be a buddy movie.
Her: You don't have any friends.
Him: You're not helping!! It could even be a sports movie -- life has sure thrown me a lot of curves, but I've hit a few out of the park.
Her: You don't even LIKE baseball!!!
Him: Could be a LOT of different movies. Maybe I should talk to him about a miniseries. Or sequals.
Her: Can you do a sequal about a life story? Wouldn't that be the afterlife story?
Him: Very funny. We did decide on one thing, though.
Her: What's that?
Him: Matthew Broderick plays me. Ever since that girl at college said I looked like Ferris Beuhler, I've thought he should play me. And he needs the movie work.
Her: To capture the real you, it would have to be an animated movie. They could re-use the artwork from Toy Story -- you look a LOT like Woody.

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