Monthly Archives: November 2012

R.C. Sproul Jr. on the Death of his Daughter Shannon

As I’ve been following the events in this brother’s life since Shannon passed in early October, I’ve watched the glorious power of Christ at work to hold him up and keep his faith and trust in God. In this video of his preaching Shannon’s memorial service, the peace and hope in Jesus that brother Sproul possesses is open and visible. You would do well to watch this.

Grace to you,

-Justin

Categories: The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romans 9:1 and Asyndeton

A splendid little observation on the relationship of individual election to assurance of salvation, through the lens of a technical observation of Paul’s Greek… COOL! Dr. Wallace is the king of biblical Greek – don’t you forget it!

Daniel B. Wallace

As I was reading Romans 9 recently I noticed that the chapter begins asyndetically—that is, without a conjunction or other marker to connect it with the preceding. This is fairly rare in Greek and, apart from its use in staccato-like commands and aphorisms, almost always means one of two things: either a total disconnect from the preceding or a connection so strong that it would be superfluous to add the conjunction.

Paul uses asyndeton at the beginning of a major paragraph nine times in Romans. In 2.17, 10.1, 11.33, and 13.8 it is obvious that the same topic is in view. (On a smaller scale, see 2 Tim 3.16—which obviously connects to the previous verse; cf. also Phil 4.4b.) In Rom 12.9, 13.8, 16.3, and 16.21 the connection is not as clear, though it is probably there in most of these instances. Romans 13.1 offers the most obvious break without…

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Categories: The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Israel and Gaza at War

Three years ago I had the privilege of visiting Israel and the West Bank.

It is a fantastic land full of the world’s most important history, and having visited I will never be the same. As an American Christian, I also must say I will never understand the mindset of the Jews and Muslims in the land of Israel.To be clear, I believe Israel has the right of a nation to defend her citizens against legitimate threats. Rocket attacks from nearby is a legitimate threat.

I have been following the Twitter account of the Israeli Defense Forces, and they make it out to be like they are on a humanitarian mission in the dropping of bombs all over Gaza City – and in their minds they may be. The Palestinians don’t see it that way. If Hamas truly is hiding their weapons and personnel nearby schools, hospitals, and residences, then they are bringing the carnage upon their own people. Knowing a little about the mindset of Islam, there is little value placed on human life in comparison with the urgency of Jihad.

So what is to be our worldview conclusion as we watch this war?

Probably sympathy and grieving for both sides, but for slightly different reasons. We are to sympathize and pray for Israel in their spiritual darkness. They missed their Messiah now almost 20 centuries ago. They need to be grafted back into the tree of Abraham and the blessings of covenant with God. In their land today, they are surrounded by enemies and have nothing except military might. They need the good news of the risen Messiah! Pray for our Israeli friends (both Jew and Arab).

For the Arabs, it’s got to be a hellish life in the Gaza Strip. It is poor, isolated, and infested with terrorists. The population there is at the mercy of a big, angry military in Israel, and a small, crazy band of terrorists within them. There is a sizable Christian community within the borders of Gaza as well – they need our prayers and love. Who are we to condemn these fellow humans in any way? I am rarely more ashamed of American evangelicals than when I hear ignorant war talk about beating down and/or wiping out the Palestinians. Have the heart of Christ, friends, and pray for both sides.

Both people groups are made in God’s image; the lost Muslims in Gaza who are dying and entering God’s presence without a mediator, and the lost Jews who are lording their military might in paranoid fits – as is understandable in light of the, you know, whole thing 70 years ago in Europe where 6 million of them were murdered… but neither side is “on God’s side” here, friends. There is only a broken, cursed human order of nations which cries out for redemption.

For every people group, there is only one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, and there is only one hope for all of war-impoverished humanity: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And by the way, for Christians there is only one concern in any turmoil between nations: that the gospel and glory of Jesus Christ be made known. Rooting for Israel to flatten and destroy the Palestinians is the quickest way to dishonor and conceal the glory and gospel of Christ. I hope each of Christ’s sheep is praying for the peace and redemption of all people in this conflict.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pause and Listen: Jim Croce – I Got a Name (1973)

When you live in a society that grinds the soul by constant, frenetic activity, it’s good to hit the brakes for a few moments here and there. Let me give you a reason to stop and listen: here is the gentle, pleasant sound of Jim Croce.

This song, I believe, is the epitome of the simple, somewhat innocent folk music of the 1960’s-70’s. I grew up shuffling through my dad’s collection of vinyl, occasionally coming across golden tunes like these. Here is yet another glimpse into the human being magnifying the Creator through our creation and expression of harmony, rhythm, and emotion. Enjoy.

Jim Croce, b. 1943 – d. 1973

Thanks for visiting,
-Justin

Categories: Artistic Creations, The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Ron Paul’s Farewell Speech: A Serious Warning

Dr. Ron Paul is retiring from the U.S. Congress after a career spanning 36 years. The unique thing about him is that he didn’t become a power-mad, money-hungry monster of a human being – and to his last days in government is issuing a clarion call to us, the people, that we are losing our country. Whether or not you agree with the man’s policies, you have to respect his honesty and lifetime of faithful service to the country. Watch this speech. The whole thing. With family. Possibly twice or five times. Understand what he’s saying. Start facing what has happened to our nation, and be ready for big changes. The coming decades will be a time of strong testing for the American nation, and for those of us who are concerned with interpreting the cosmos; having a worldview which reflects truth… we cannot pretend these things are not happening. We must pray to the Lord of the universe, we’ve got to seek Him and ask His forgiveness…. It’s time to be brave and to speak boldly in the public square for truth and justice.

May God help us.

 

Thanks for visiting,

-Justin

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cozying up to Goliath: Evangelicals & the Military

Evangelicals in America, according to my own personal observations, have a mighty, powerful love of the United States military. I have been in any number of churches from a few different denominations and have seen multiple times worship services become mingled with homage to the military. This disturbs me. What is the military? It is the physical force of the government manifested in the earth. What is military propaganda doing in a church service?

As I used to say as a toddler: “I don’t sure, Mom.”

In the case of this country, the military has served to protect our freedoms and way of life, has in many places freed people from oppression, and in others kept horrific despots from taking power. I would not denigrate the service of our soldiers who have fought and died for us; for me to be able to sit here and write this blog post. I have dear friends who are active duty or retired, and my own dad is a Vietnam veteran. Thank you, Dad.

Here’s the rub: the military is a morally neutral force. It is pure power without brains or heart. The moral quality of it is determined by the commanders who utilize it in action, and in America the will of the people which should in theory be the will of the commanders. We could review various wars the U.S. military has conducted and judge the good or evil means and ends of each, but I ask a different question: why are Evangelicals so deeply loyal to the military? Is it as an institution beyond criticism per Romans 13? (Obey the government and submit to the authorities, Paul teaches us). I believe there is something more behind this than just biblical loyalty and submission to authority.

My thoughts are complex, but to boil it down, I am afraid we, as theologically conservative Christians are wedded to the military in such a way that we readily excuse anything done in the name of the United States of America by the military, especially when there is a Republican in the White House. I fear we have been mute in the face of atrocity and injustice perpetrated by the Pentagon. I fear we can justify any bullet, any bomb as being “a fight for our freedoms.”

If you are a Christian, have you stopped to ask questions about our national use of force in the world? Would you be willing to speak against injustices committed in your name, as so many in the world think of us as a “Christian nation?” Where are the lines drawn between moral and immoral use of force? Are unmanned drone attacks warranted simply because there are terrorists out there? What about when we consistently take the lives of civilians inside of countries which we have never declared war against? What if Yemen launched an unmanned drone attack on someone in Nebraska and killed 15 school children? What would be our response?

What happened in your heart and mind when our government announced it would help out Al-Qaeda in Libya to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi? Things getting blurry yet? Why is it that our nation spent $768,000,000,000 on the military last year, almost $600,000,000,000 more than the next country on the list?

I believe this is one place where American Christians are far off of the message of Jesus, whose focus was not a kingdom of this world, but rather the restoration and redemption of people and cosmos – healing the broken and preaching the gospel. What is our focus, my fellow American Christians?

One more question: when the modern, secular, godless State of Israel lobs missiles into Palestinian areas which are upwards of 8% Christian, do you mourn for the deaths of your Christian brothers, sisters, and their children who have died by explosions your tax dollars paid for? We must stop to weigh the nuances of our national actions, and decry those that are unnecessary or unjust.

It grieves me to think of any use of deadly force. It grieves me when some Evangelicals seem to laud the military without even a hint of agony for what it truly is: a necessary but terrible part of life in our fallen world.

This world was made for us to cultivate, beautify, and steward. The Church is meant to help restore those things to humanity, to shed light on Christ’s redemption of the cosmos – and in reality the military breaks, destroys, and pollutes the earth. Totally different missions, hm?

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Poem: November Joys

When sugar blooms dark red cider

Hot in the pot

Mulling spices to chase away

The giant blue winter who is growing southward

We hear his distant groans growing

Closer

And closer we join under the cover of early dark

So hope love faith may be mingled

With the cracking snaps of the radiant blaze

The power of country market fry cakes at 10:00 pm.

———————-

 

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Artistic Creations, Meaning Woven into Nature | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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