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Archive for August, 2008


I just finished D.A. Carson’s A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13.  It was formerly published as From Triumphalism to Maturity.

It covers on of the more difficult passages of Paul’s letters, one which seems particularly appropriate in these times.  As I read the book, I could not help but think of many instances to “triumphalism” or an over-realized eschatology.

Carson writes in an understandable fashion that addresses the various exegetical problems of the text.  It is a book that is helpful for those wanting to better understand this passage of Scripture, or wanting to have a better understanding of mature Christian leadership.

In this passage of Scripture, Paul is trying to distinguish himself from the “super-apostles” who have entered the Corinthian church, seeking to supplant him.  Their ‘credentials’ lead us to believe that they are Judaizers who measure ministry by worldly standards of success rather than biblical standards of faithfulness.  They continually discredit Paul as not meeting their superior standards, seeking to win the Corinthians’ hearts and wallets.

They measure success by power- both in word and deed.  Their rhetorical style is worldly wisdom rather than the wisdom and scandal of Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1-2).  Like the Hellenistic teachers of the day, success is measured by the number of followers and the amount they are willing to pay to be taught by you.

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Barak Obama wants change, so he says.  He’s selling change, or so he says.

If he wants change why would one of his closest advisors be the Sr. Senator from Massachusetts- Edward Kennedy?  He has been firmly entrenched in DC for decades- an utter insider.

If he wants change why would he choose Senator Joe Biden from Delaware?  Joe has also been firmly entrenched in DC for decades.

Oddly, both have had voting records to the hard left, and ethical issues that have given them attention they haven’t wanted.

Obama is merely an incredibly charismatic version of John Kerry (I guess the charismatic part is the change).  He’s “so smart” we can’t understand his verbal gymnastics as he fails to clearly articulate a definitive answer to a question.

Change: a return to the far left policies and maintaining power despite breaches of ethical standards.

That is some interesting definition of change.  I’d rather not change, thanks.

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I’ve got too much time on my hands.  That isn’t a very good thing sometimes.

Only $0.01 at Amazon!

Only $0.01 at Amazon!

I noticed a title on the bookshelf here at the in-laws (they sort of just collect interesting looking books, they probably haven’t read this).  It was The Millennium Meltdown: Year 2000 Computer Crisis by Grant Jeffrey.  Selling Y2K fear was big business in the late ’90’s.  I know I told my congregation to be prepared, just in case.  Just trying to be wise.  So no big deal that NOTHING happened.

But when you write a book about it, tying it into a secret agenda for world government (yes, that’s a chapter title) you are seriously committed to the idea.  And when it doesn’t happen, you lose some serious credibility- or at least you should.

  Grant Jeffrey is one of the many dispensational doom & gloom salesmen who see each world crisis as proof that the Great Tribulation is about to begin ( he has about 10 titles in this genre).  Despite the fact that he is batting .000 (and so are the rest of these guys) …

  1. How do they have the chutzpah to continue to write books as if they have any intellectual, biblical legs to stand upon?
  2. Why do people continue to buy those same books as if they had any intellectual, biblical legs to stand upon?

I have a number of conflicting emotions as I see both how self-deceived you must be to continue to write this books without ever asking, “Am I misunderstanding the Bible?” and questioning the system of thought that keeps bringing you to these conclusions that don’t match the facts of history.  I also have a number of conflicting emotions when I see how gullible and naive people can be to keep buying this stuff even though these men (and women) have been 100% consistently wrong (just for fun read the customer reviews on Amazon).

I fear for the American Church, it as if large chunks of the church want to be deceived.  Or perhaps I’m deceived and the Y2K mess really happened, there is a cashless society operated by the one world government and the war on terror, or oil, or sand, is triggering the advent of Antichrist and the rapture which they have predicted about 50 times by now.  Or that God actually does want me to be wealthier than I can imagine, perfectly healthy and trouncing the devil with every step and I’m not living my best life so far because I don’t have enough faith or think positively enough and I just really need to will my migraines and back pain away.

I need to head to the tiny beach nearby with my MP3 player of sermons so I’ll stop thinking of these things.

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The cycle of speeches between Job and his 3 friends has finished with Job’s final speech.  Their rather limited theological views couldn’t answer Job’s questions.  They ended up condemning Job.

There is one telling statement about Job in 32:1- “because he was righteous in his own eyes.”

Job shared their faulty theology.  Since he was certain he had not sinned, he thought he was suffering unjustly.  This book exists, in part, to let us know people suffer for a number of reasons, all under the soveriegnty of God.  It rebukes our presumption- but I get ahead of myself.

Elihu appears out of nowhere.  There is no prior indication that he was there.  And he isn’t mentioned at the end of the book either.  This has led some to speculate that Elihu is a later addition.  But the whole book is mysterious- suffering often doesn’t make sense.  So why should we expect the book to tie up all the loose ends.

Elihu’s contribution seems to be that suffering is a warning from God.  Job is being warned that he is in danger of departing from God.  He spends lots of time saying not much of anything.

Before we get to God’s response and the conclusion, I thought I should summarize the various reasons people suffer.  Some of those are found in this book, and some of them aren’t.  These are helpful to keep in mind when we suffer, and when people we counsel (formally or informally) are suffering.

  1. Our suffering is under the sovereignty of God.  This is the one consistent message of the book, and it is true.  Satan must seek God’s permission, and God held the Chaldeans and Sabeans at bay.
  2. Sometimes we suffer to test us.  This is why God permitted Job to suffer.  He knew Job would pass the test (as a result of sustaining grace), though Job didn’t always suffer well.
  3. (more…)

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Yaz in his final year

Yaz in his final year

Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski is recuperating after a triple bypass.

#8 is the last man to ever win the Triple Crown in the magical ’67 season (giving birth to Red Sox Nation).  It was a different era because .326, 44 HR and 121 RBIs won’t get you far these days.  But that magical September push for the pennant was amazing.  I was too young to have any memory of the Impossible Dream season, but watched Yaz play from the mid-70’s until he retired in 1983.

He’s not always remembered outside of New England, but there is a reason he holds a special place in the heart of all who are part of Red Sox Nation.

Yastrzemski was elected to the Hall on the first ballot in 1989. He has often shied away from celebrity and rarely made public appearances, but drew a big ovation when he threw out the first ball before Game 1 of last year’s World Series, won by Boston in a four-game sweep over Colorado.

Yaz finished with 452 career home runs and 1,844 RBIs. He had 3,419 lifetime hits and batted .285. He also won seven Gold Gloves, expertly playing the caroms off the Green Monster.

Yastrzemski is one of five former Red Sox players to have his number retired by the team. His No. 8 is painted on the facing of the right field grandstands at Fenway, along with those of Williams, Carlton Fisk, Bobby Doerr and Joe Cronin.

All the best to one of the greats!

Ted & Yaz (Globe file photo)

Ted & Yaz (Globe file photo)

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Michael Wilson  The Ledger

Photo: Michael Wilson The Ledger

This is my last post on Todd Bentley.  I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about him.  But there are things I think need to be said, for the cause of Christ.

I came across this yesterday but didn’t address it.  Contrary to what Todd Bentley told Stephen Strader, there was another party involved.  Fresh Fire Ministries announced that he had an unhealthy emotional relationship with a staff member, and that this had happened before.

My original point, which I didn’t express clearly, was this:  Is this-
A. an example of a man who did not appropriate the blessings of the gospel in his battle with sin.
B. the result of a truncated, incomplete understanding of the gospel.
C. the result of a deviant, and therefore false, gospel.

If the first, it doesn’t affect the validity of the ‘revival’.
If the second, it should cause those who partake in the ‘revival’ to gain a fuller understanding of the gospel.
If the third, I hope it will bring people to realize a false gospel was being proclaimed and to forsake it for the true gospel.

The press release from Fresh Fire Ministries places the blame on the Enemy, as though sin was “out there” instead of in our hearts.  As a result, there is little personal accountability, just the need for “healing”.  This minimizes the sinfulness of his actions- they need healing, not repentance.  Perhaps there are some ways in which Todd Bentley has been sinned against in the past that still require the balm of the gospel to bring healing.  But his transfer of affection in sinful, and indicates a bigger problem than he admits.

We are not sanctified after encounters with angels (as he seems to claim)- we are sanctified as we appropriate the gospel and put our sin to death in the power of the Spirit.  The obsession with miracles and power is remarkably similar to the triumphalism (and sin minimization) of the Corinthians as taught to them by the false apostles.  This obsession with miracles reveals at least a truncated understanding of the gospel, and most likely a false gospel.

This is not a continuationist-cessationist argument, but one about the central message of the gospel (regeneration => conversion => justification by faith => adoption => sanctification => glorification).  When parts of this are dropped off, you have a truncated gospel.  When something is put there in its place, or in addition to them, you have a false gospel.  In the NT they authenticate the message and messenger.  But in some circles they pretty much are the message.  I fear that healing has replaced the core message and people are being summoned to a false gospel that leaves them in their sins and under the wrath of God.  This is far more important than Bentley’s marriage problems.

The assessments of R.T. Kendall and Carl Trueman.

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Job shifts to a series of shorter speeches.  Not quite sound bites, but more succinct than the first cycle of speeches.

Eliphaz basically says ‘you’re wrong, and tradition is on our side’.  He continues to say that Job must be suffering because he has a sin issue, so stop blaming God.

Job continues to assert his innocence AND God’s great anger.  His former position of honor has been stripped from him and he is despised by all.  He is weary of his friends.

Bildad is weary of Job’s stubborn claims.  Ho-hum, only the wicked suffer.

“How long will you torment me and crush me with words?  Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me. (19:1-2)”

Job feels surrounded by God, under seige.  He has been abandoned by all his friends- particularly those who now accuse him.  Zophar continues the attack as Job grows weary.  Job adds to his complaint.  He says that the wicked often prosper, which often dismays God’s people.  Like today, many non-Christians live well and enjoy life.  In light of their rebellion against the fabric of the universe, this is disheartening at times for those who love and fear God.  Particularly when things are very difficult for us.

Finally Eliphaz lays out some concrete accusations:

“Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you?  Is not your wickedness great?  Are not your sins endless?  You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.  You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry, …. And you send widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless.  That is why snares are all around you …. (22:4-10)”

He accuses Job of being an oppressor.  Job must begin to submit to God to find peace and then prosperity will return.

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