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July 01, 2004

This Week in Church History

June 29, 67

Rome. The seat of all power in the known world. The heart of the Empire.

According to The People's Chronology, this is the date when the apostle Paul was beheaded.

The date itself is speculative -- the year has been thought to be anywhere from 62 to 67, and it's doubtful that we'll ever know for sure. What is important is the example of the life of Paul.

Paul was the most successful church planter in history. He planted churches throughout Asia Minor -- almost everywhere he went, a local church was born. He knew the importance of fellowship among Christians.

Paul also knew the importance of discipleship. He wrote constantly to the churches he helped to start, keeping track of their development and their problems, writing to encourage or correct. His letters were so influential, so obviously inspired by God, that even the apostle Peter included them with other inspired writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Paul also pioneered the missionary movement. Not satisfied with waiting for people to come to him, Paul went out, teaching first in the synagogues, then everywhere he could -- always trying to reach people with the gospel of Christ. He was committed to the idea that the Gospel was for everyone, Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free. In spite of opposition, even from other apostles, he remained committed to this idea until his death.

There were many factors that led to Paul's death. He threatened many cities economically -- trade in idols and sacrifices was lucrative, and the growing Christian church threatened that. He also threatened Roman political power -- Christians could not worship the emperor as a god, which is what the Empire demanded. This new sect threatened to destabilize the Roman way of life, so it had to be stopped. The fact that not even the power of Rome could stop its growth shows that Christ's words were true: the gates of Hell would not prevail against His church.

Paul's influence on Christianity is unmistakable. It is ironic, then, that Paul had dedicated himself early on in his life to ending the influence of Christianity. The power of the presence of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus was overwhelming, though, and the results show how Christ can change anyone's life -- no matter how messed up, sinful, or confused.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

The NAE and Civic Engagement

I promised this yesterday, but I've been mulling over what I want to say. Some of the things in the document, I don't agree with. Some things in the document, conservatives won't agree with. But I think that there is a lot that is worthwhile here, no matter what nation you live in.

One thing to remember is that this document encompasses all evangelicals -- or is meant to. Not all evangelicals are politically conservative, and their influence can be seen in the document.

One thing that the document makes clear is that "disengagement is not an option". We have to remain engaged with our nation as much as we can be, to try to make the changes to our society that government can make. This is something that I think people have misunderstood about things that I have said -- I don't believe that we should just go away and let the nation go; we have to be engaged. The isue that I have is that many Christians seem to think that if we can get the politics straightened out, everything will be OK. The government cannot fix everything, and we shouldn't expect it to.

One thing that conservatives will disagree on is the ammount of government. The NAE does not advocate a small government; in fact, it sees a role for government in welfare (and welfare reform), protection of the sanctity of life, international peacemaking, and many other areas. It also calls for improved access to health care for all citizens.

The Bible makes it clear that God cares a great deal about the wellbeing of marriage, the family, the sanctity of human life, justice for the poor, care for creation, peace, freedom, and racial justice. While individual persons and organizations may rightly concentrate on one or two issues, faithful evangelical civic engagement must champion a biblically balanced agenda.
In other words, don't ignore the poor. Don't ignore environmental issues. Don't ignore racism. If we are truely going to bring a Christian worldview to our politics, we have to make sure that it is consistant.

We will differ with other Christians and with non-Christians over the best policies. Thus we must practice humility and cooperation to achieve modest and attainable goals for the good of society. We must take care to employ the language of civility and to avoid demonizing those with whom we disagree. Because political work requires persuasion and cooperation with those who do not share our Christian commitment, we must offer a reasoned and easy-to-grasp defense of our goals.
In other words, no name-calling, from either side.

I especially like this quote:

Christians engaged in political activity must maintain their integrity and keep their biblical values intact. While they may frequently settle for "half-a-loaf," they must never compromise principle by engaging in unethical behavior or endorsing or fostering sin. Evangelicals should join political parties and fully express their biblical values. In doing so, they must be careful not to equate Christian faith with partisan politics.
The emphasis there, of course, is mine. The whole Republican=Christian thing is not only untrue, it's unbiblical, as is Christian=Republican. Party politics are not tied to faith in Christ, as I tried to illustrate elsewhere. All we can do, and what we need to do, is make sure that our political views reflect our Christian beliefs. That may involve supporting (gasp) a Democrat. Or an Independant. Or Libertarian, or Constitutional, or Green. Political parties will take us for granted, unless we make sure they know we vote issues, not party.

There is a large section on protecting liberty of conscience, which should relieve the folks who think we're a bunch of Reconstructionists. Then again, they probably won't listen to us at all.

Because human beings are responsible to God, these guarantees are crucial to the exercise of their Godgiven freedom. As God allows the wheat and tares to grow together until the harvest, and as God sends the rain on the just and on the unjust, so those who obey and those who disobey God coexist in society and share in its blessings (Matt. 5:45; 13:24-30). This "gospel pluralism" is foundational to the religious liberty of all.
THIS is where our call to evangelism comes into play. Government MUST allow all faiths to practice their beliefs, including those faiths who are called to proseletyze. We must be about the Lord's business, and government cannot interfere. At the same time, we must realize that other faiths are allowed to exist in our society, and not strive for laws that restrict their practice.

We commit ourselves to work for laws that protect and foster family life, and against government attempts to interfere with the integrity of the family. We also oppose innovations such as same-sex "marriage." We will work for measures that strengthen the economic viability of marriages and families, especially among the poor. We likewise commit ourselves to work within the church and society to strengthen marriages, to reduce the rate of divorce, and to prepare young adults for healthy family life.
I'm curious about how many people who are in favor of the Marriage Ammendment are divorced. Do they not realize that divorce is interfering with the integrity of the institution of marriage as much as the whole 'same-sex marriage' issue? There are more heterosexuals who get divorced every day than there are homosexuals who want to get married. Consistancy. We should oppose divorce with the vigor we oppose gay marriage.
We further believe that care for the vulnerable should extend beyond our national borders. We link arms with Christians everywhere in calling on individuals, churches and governments to do more to reduce the scandal of widespread poverty in a time of abundance.
Kinda puts a damper on the Constitutional Party's foreign policy platform, doesn't it?

The paper goes on to discuss government's role in providing for the poor, and taking responsibility for the economic well being of it's citizens. I think that they give government too big of a role in this area. I think that the church should be the primary provider of welfare for the poor, with the government stepping in only when they church cannot, or does not.

Restoring people to wholeness means that public social welfare must aim to restore people to self-sufficiency. While basic standards of support must be put in place to provide for those who cannot care for their families and themselves, incentives and training in marketable skills must be part of any well-rounded program.
Sound familiar??

They also call for sound environmental stewardship. God gave us the earth to care for -- to have dominion over, true, but also to care for and take care of.

Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation. This involves both the urgent need to relieve human suffering
caused by bad environmental practice and the responsibility to use foresight in egulating
the use of land and resources to minimize the effects on the poor and others who are less
able to protect themselves. Because natural systems are extremely complex, human actions can have unexpected side effects. We must therefore approach our stewardship of creation with humility and caution.

I really think that this paper, if adopted with anywhere close to the language it contains in this draft, will change the way evangelicals are perceived by the secular world. It will also result in our modern fundamental brethren deciding that we have compromised. Oh, well -- they'd do that anyway.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2004

Bush's Mass Mailing List

Not usually a political blogger, but I found this story over at Christianity Today. Seems the President is getting some addresses and phone numbers for a mass mailing/telemarketing program.

And he's getting them for free.

The President is asking supporters to send him their church directories. This is going to give him a wealth of information -- names and addresses especially, but also phone numbers and possibly some demographic information (age, number of kids, etc.).

Marketers pay a LOT of money for these lists; in fact, these lists are one of the biggest expenses involved in any marketing campaign. Bush is going to get them for free.

Needless to say, Bush opponents are up in arms. I can understand why -- the Bush campaign is getting thousands of dollars worth of marketing information for free. I'd think that this is streatching the campaign rules a little bit. Bush had better be careful here.

Other things the Bush campaign is asking are for volunteers to encourage their churches to hold voter registration rallies, recruit churchmembers for the campaign, and put together voter information packages. Some church/state separationists are upset about these things as well.

I don't like the church directories being given to the campaign. I have no problem with any of the other things Bush is doing; after all, the Democrats have been doing it for years, with Rev. Jesse Jackson at the head of the campaign. Part of the problem is that people don't think of Jackson as a minister -- he's first and foremost a politician. Part of the problem is that church/state separatists tend to be more toward the liberal side of the spectrum, and they don't notice the beam in their own eye.

I'm not sure how I feel about this plan. I can see that it's very efficient, politically, for the campaign. I can see, however, that it could cause some problems in churches that are politically diverse. It can cause concern about tax-exempt statuses for many churches. And I'm not sure it's going to gain the President many new voters (though I could be wrong here).

I know that if my church held a voter registration drive, I'd participate. I know that if my church held a campaign dinner, or if someone asked me to volunteer on the campaign, I'd probably say no. I support President Bush, but I don't want him to think that he's getting a free ride from Christians simply because he's a Republican. He needs to make sure he doesn't forget about us two years after re-election, as has seemed to be the case.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

Celebrating the Underblogs!!

Head on over here and let people know about all those underrated blogs out there. I think this is a great idea -- of course, I'm about as unknown as they come (except for the 10 people who read me regularly -- thankyou thankyou thankyou!). Let's get some recognition for some great blogs -- and go through the list on the site, maybe you'll find a new favorite!!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2004

Happy Fourth of July!

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
(Psalms 20:7-8 ESV)

I think that verse, more than any other, should be how Christians feel about their country -- no matter where they live. Yes, we should try to make things better for everyone. Yes, we should be responsible stewards of creation. But our ultimate trust should be in God alone. Reminds me of a song:

I have heard how christians long ago
Were brought before a tyrants throne
And they were told that he would spare their lives
If they would renounce the name of Christ.
But one by one they chose to die
The Son of God they would not deny
Like a great angelic choir sings
I can almost hear their voices ring.

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strengh
With all I am
I will seek to honor His command
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

Now the years have come and the years have gone
But the cause of Jesus still goes on
And now our time has come to count the cost
To reject this world, and embrace the cross
And one by one let us live our lives
For the One who died to give us life.
Till the trumpet sounds on the final day
Let us proudly stand and boldly say


To the Lamb of God who bore my pain
Who took my place, Who wore my shame.
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

Parableman has a great post on this topic today. And Patriot Paradox has a post that will get your blood boiling.

In between burgers and hot dogs, think about what this country means to you -- and how much more the Kingdom of God should mean to you.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

Advisory -- Slow Posting Ahead

Monday evening, I leave for seminary. THIS time, I KNOW I'm starting a class -- I'm registered and everything. I have no idea how this will effect my posting schedule. I'm not even sure I'll have my laptop with me, as my wife is headed to Virginia to spend two weeks working on her Masters thesis (on the reaction of Virginia Baptists to the American Revolution), and she needs a mobile computer as much as I do. I have a PDA, but no wireless internet.

They have a computer lab at Southern, but I don't know if I'll be able to get on in there. I'm not even 100% sure where it is, though I'm sure I'll find out. I'd like to think that I'll stll be able to post regularly, but I honestly don't know. Just keep checking back, or subscribe to my RSS feed. If you need a good RSS reader, I've got a few recommendations:

  • NewsDesk, which is what I'm using now. I like it a lot.

  • BottomFeeder is a good program that I used to use all the time, and still use a little. It has a great search feature that lets you save search topics and re-search regularly.

  • RssReader looks promising. I may take this one for a test drive.

The most important feature of all these programs is the price -- they're free. And they check all your RSS feeds automatically, so you don't have to keep hitting sites, only to find out that it hasn't been updated yet.

Of course, you could also subscribe through the Bloglines link over there on the left, as many of you have done. It's just as easy as an RSS reader, and you don't have to install any software. And it's just as free!!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2004

How Have We Survived?

As it turns out, our parents did everything wrong! (At least, according to the "experts.") I was spanked, told "no," and even given cough surup. Can you believe, we aren't supposed to give our kids cough syrup? That's what CNN said today.

I was taught to obey and be respectful. Although my skirts might have been a tad too short, nothing hung out that shouldn't have. At 35 years old, I'm proud to say that I am a Bible-believing, God-honoring Christian. Some may find that a small accomplishment, but with what I see, it's about the best thing out there.

It's no wonder people don't bother to stay healthy. A few weeks ago, I find out that I shouldn't be out in the sunlight from 7:00 am to 10:00 am because of UVA rays that give you skin cancer (and can reach through glass). Now, I was already avoiding the sun from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm so I wouldn't get skin cancer from UVB rays. Of course, by 3:00 pm I have to stay inside so that I don't get West Nile from an infected mosquito. Then, when I thought I was safe inside my nice cozy home, they tell me "indoor pollution can be up to five times worse inside than outside.

My question to you tonight: Are you relying on the scientists or the Great Physician to help you live?

Posted by Thanea at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)

Overwhelmed and Aggravated

Ok, I have a ton of reading to do, MOST of which I've finished because of the storm that ran through here a little while ago that nocked the phone lines out. I still have a bunch to do so I don't get behind.

AND I'm aggravated at BlogSpot. I'm really tired of not being able to access my blog, and I KNOW that you all are getting tired of not being able to get here. I'm looking at options -- what I THINK I'm going to do is combine this blog and my home page into one central site, and host it though 1to1 or doteasy or someone like that. I LIKE free things, but I'm learning that there's a tradeoff. If I can afford better, I'm going to do it. If anyone has any other options, let me know.

This is about all I'm going to be able to write tonight, but I should be able to do the TWiCH AND the Mark study tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2004

A Principled Man

John Kerry hates abortion.

I know, that comes as a shock to anyone who has seen his voting record on abortion. After all, he voted against the partial birth abortion ban six times. He's made waves in Catholic circles because of his pro-choice voting record. But he has a "good reason".

He can't let his personal beliefs interfere in his public life, and inflict his religious views on others.

I know that many people will stand up and cheer. Not me. It strikes me as incredibly inconsistant that Kerry holds to beliefs that he considers to be Truth, but that he's not willing to share those beliefs, or let those beliefs influence anything about his public life. As I've mentined before, I cannot imagine any form of spirituality that doesn't influence every aspect of your life. It seems to me that if abortion is wrong for me, it is wrong, period. Maybe I'm being simplistic, believing in things like absolutes and everything, but I cannot do otherwise. I serve a God who claims to be the Truth -- truth is an absolute. If I believe abortion is wrong, I am going to do everything in my power to keep abortions from happening. John Kerry is too worried about what people might think about him imposing his beliefs on others to take a stand on an issue that he claims to have a rather mainstream stance on.

What will John Kerry do in the event of a global crisis? Do something to help, or sit back and say, "I think we should help, but I cannot impose my morality on the people of {fill in the name of the next hotspot here}." I certainly hope we won't have to find out.

{edit} Take a look at what GetReligion has to say about this.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2004

This Week in Church History

July 8, 1741

Jonathan Edwards was one of the most influential theologians of his day. His writing influenced preachers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and helped to fuel the Second Great Awakening, just as he was influential in the First. Today, though, marks the anniversary of his preaching a sermon that was highly uncharacteristic of him.

"All you that never passed under a great change of heart by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin...you are thus in the hands of an angry God; 'tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction."

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is often cited as an example of fire-and-brimstone preaching that characterized the Great Awakening, not to mention the preaching of modern-day backwoods fundamentalists. Few people realize that the sermon was, in fact, an exception for Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards wrote books on science and nature. He wrote and preached logically and systematically. Later theologians would list the study of his books as a requirement for revival. And yet, as Sinners shows, he was perfectly capable of letting people know in no uncertain terms what their spiritual condition was, and what they needed to do about it. He was the personification of Evangelical Calvinism for later evangelicals (Presbyterian AND Baptist) who were confronted with growing hyper-Calvinistic opposition to evangelism. His works are still widely available, and there is currently a resurgence in the reading and study of this most influential man.

"Therefore let everyone that is out of Christ now awake and fly from the wrath to come."

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 3:22-30

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

28 "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"— 30 for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

This is a tough passage. We don't WANT there to be a sin that God won't forgive. We don't want to think that there is a line that cannot be crossed. Giving Satan credit for the work of God is over that line.

We tend to focus on the negative in this passage. Look at the positive -- all sins will be forgiven, except that one. And to be honest, if anyone is giving Satan credit for the finished work of Christ, they aren't even looking for a way out. They aren't repentant.

No matter what you have done, no matter what sins you have committed, if you are searching for the forgiveness of Christ, you will find it. He has promised that.

This passage is another example of people wiling to believe anything about Jesus except the truth. He has been defeating demons, and they claim He is one. He points out that he has been damaging Satan's work -- why would He do that, if He was in league with the devil? He also points out the purpose of His early work -- he is weakening Satan's hold, so that He can deliver the crushing blow at Calvary. He is showing that He has the power to "bind the strong man".

It's easy to forget that Satan is defeated. He lost at Calvary, but he continues to deceive, convincing people that Christ wasn't who He claimed to be. Our job is to show and tell -- show the world that Christ lives within us, and tell them that He can live within them as well.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

Go Buy This CD

Derek Webb The House Show. I'm looking forward to getting and listening to She Must and Shall Go Free after hearing this disc. And, of course, I have to copy the lyrics to the song I just finished listening to.

Words and music by Derek Webb
Copyright 2004 Derek Webb Music ASCAP

I repent of my pursuit of America's dream
I repent of living like I deserve anything
My house, my fence, my kids, and my wife
In our suburb where we're safe and white
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent of parading my liberty
I repent of paying for what I get for free
The way I believe that I am living right
By trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent judging by a law that even I can't keep
Wearin’ righteousness like a disguise to see through
The planks in my own eyes

I repent of trading truth for false unity
I repent of confusing peace and idolatry
Of caring more of what they think than what I know of what they need
And domesticating You until You look just like me
I am wrong and of these things I repent

Thanks to Jared over at Mysterium Tremendum for the lyrics. Read his review, and one from Tim Challies. It's Tim's fault I bought the thing, but I got it on sale.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2004

Will There Be Hockey in October?

This won't be a theologically profound post. To be honest, I'm swamped with reading and writing right now. The sad thing is, the stuff isn't due until mid-August, but I have VBS, a visit from Mom, and a week's vacation, so I'm not going to get much done for the last couple weeks of July. I'm TRYING not to fall into my old habits and put everything off until the last possible minute, so I'm getting as much as I can done now.

And this is a VERY important sociological topic. Labor negotiations and hockey.

As far as I can understand, it all comes down to one issue. The player's association doesn't want a salary cap, and the league does. Neither side is willing to budge, so it looks like there might not be a hockey season this fall.

I love hockey. It's one of the two or three sports I follow closely -- and most of the others I gave up because of contract negotiations. NASCAR and PGA golf don't HAVE contracts to worry about; the pay is based on performance. I don't like pro basketball, and I've recently lost interest in pro football (though with the second coming of Joe Gibbs, I may have to start following the Skins again). I love watching baseball live, but on TV it's worse than watching golf.

I can watch hockey live, on TV, or on tape. Even though the two teams I am a fan of (Atlanta and Columbus) are NOT playoff contenders by the end of the season (though both looked promising this year), I still love the game. My two-year-old loves it, too -- second only to football.

I can see why a salary cap makes sense for the owners, especially in smaller markets. And I can see why the players may not want one, especially those who are the "superstars" of the game. I wish I could come up with a great solution, but I cannot. A profit-sharing plan might do it, but the larger market teams won't want that at all.

All I can do is hope that greater minds than I can come up with a solution -- because otherwise, I'll be going through withdrawl this fall.

And that won't be pretty. At all.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2004

Cruisin' the Blogroll

Haven't done this in a while, so let's hop in the virtual hot rod and cruise the Blogroll for a bit...

Al Mohler has a great entry today, entitled "Is The Religious Right Really Right?" If you know anything about Dr. Mohler, you already know his answer to that question. Take a look anyway, because the article is very informative and a bit entertaining.

Over at Challies.com, Tim talks about a new Barna study involving the impact of The Passion of the Christ. Interesting findings.

I can't pick just one post from Jollyblogger, but he's been blogging about one of my favorite topics -- the interaction of Christians and society, especially with regard to government and political involvement.

Songstress7 is doing her Free Association today. I especially appreciated her link to this.

Nicene Theology is confessing his addictions. I thought about doing this, but I stopped. After all, my sister reads this blog.

I've been reading Rebecca's blog since I started reading blogs. Her post about True Evangelical Faith is outstanding.

I've got more, but I'm going to go ahead and post this. There are some massive thunderstorms coming this way, so I may not get the chance to finish. Stay tuned for part 2!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

WHAT is wrong with these people??

This story via World Magazine's blog. Apparantly, a Swedish pastor is in BIG trouble, because his faith is offensive to some people. (You MAY have to scroll down a bit for the story)

This is the exact problem when government interferes with religion -- it puts people of faith in the position hof having to decide to offend their government or their God. Truely tolerant people, I've heard tell, are capable of defending their position rationally and logically. Therefore, they shouldn't need the government to come to their rescue under the pretense of an "incitement law".

The Gospel of Christ will offend those who refuse to believe it. We ARE an intolerant people -- but no more so than those who campaign against us, who think they're tolerant. (GetReligion has a great article on this topic, by the way).

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)


I forgot the Carnival!

This coming Wednesday (7-14) is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at From the Anchor Hold. 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.

Since it's an hour too late to submit anything, I'll clip that part of the email. I'm having to check my email through Adelphia's Webmail, and I tend to forget to do that -- I remember better when all I have to do is click the Outlook icon on the desktop.

When I get home tomorow night, I think I'm going to download a program I found that lets you blog on your PDA, and upload the entries when you have an Internet connection. That might help me remember, especially when I'm away from home.

Also -- next week might be a little sparse, blogging-wise. Mom comes for a visit Monday and Tuesday, along with my aunt and uncle. Wednesday and Thursday I'm helping out at VBS at church, then Friday we leave for Myrtle Beach for some fun, sun, and golf! I'm going to try to at least keep up the Mark study and the TWiCH (I lOVE that acronym!), but anything else will be gravy.

Speaking of the Mark study and TWiCH, both of those will be up tomorrow evening. Promise.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 3:31-35

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you." And he answered them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?"And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:31-35 ESV)
I'm not going to jump into the "They were his brothers/they were his cousins" debate here -- I believe they were his brothers, and I don't think it's inconsistant to say Mary and Joseph had kids after Jesus. So there.

So Mary and Jesus' brothers (some versions also add "and sisters" to that) came looking for Him. Mary probably heard that His siblings thought He was nuts, and was going to try to prove differently. Jesus' reaction always used to bother me -- it is almost a "Who? This is my family right here, not them!" And though it might have been appropriate for His brothers, I never thought that was fair for Mary. But I don't think that was Christ's point.

He was trying to show the importance of following Him. He wanted to say that as close as people are to their own families, that is how close He is to those who believe and follow Him.

We are the family of Christ. We who follow Him are His brothers and sisters, adopted by God, and joint heirs with Christ Himself (Romans 8:15, 17, 23, among others).

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

This Week in Church History

July 12, 1739

The conversion of a young man whose short life would impact the lives of individuals all across the North American continent:

One morning while I was walking in a solitary place (as usual) and came near a thick bunch of hazels, I felt at once unusually lost and at the greatest stand and felt that all my contrivances and projections respecting my deliverance and salvation were brought to a final issue.
After spending days in anguish, thinking finally that the spirit of God had departed, finally:
By this time the sun was scarce half an hour high, as I remember, as I was walking in a dark thick grove, "unspeakable glory" seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul. By the glory I saw I don't mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing, nor do I intend any imagination of a body of light or splendor somewhere away in the third heaven, or anything of that nature. But it was a new inward apprehension or view that I had of God; such as I never had before, nor anything that I had the least remembrance of it. I stood still and wondered and admired.

David Brainerd enrolled at Yale, hoping to receive his ministerial degree. He was dismissed for making an impolite remark about a teacher (which he denied, but offered appology for). In spite of this, he was comissioned a missionary to the Native Americans, and ministered among them for three years.

Upon his death in 1747 at the age of 29, his father-in-law, Jonathan Edwards, preached his funeral service, and began work on his classic biography The Life of David Brainerd.

Just when you think that God cannot use someone of a young age, you are reminded of this remarkable young man. There is a new edition of Edwards' biography of Brainerd -- I highly recommend it.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2004

Light Night

I'm getting ready to head to Virginia in the morning.  My wife was there while I was at Southern, working on her thesis.
Tuesday morning, her mother had a heart attack.  Tuesday night, she had another one.
So I'm headed down there to get our daughter and bring her back up here.  I have no idea when my wife will be home -- not counting on it before Friday, when we leave for vacation.  So this week is going to be even more insane than I thought it would be the other day.

Please be praying for my mother-in-law, AND my wife and father-in-law.  Actually, they are the two I feel sorriest for -- they have to take care of her for a week!!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2004

Jesus, Jihad, and the New York Times

Nicholas Kristof strikes again. (free membership required).
For those who don't want to register, or just don't feel like clicking the link, I'll cut and past a bit for you, but I recommend reading the whole thing.  And remember -- this is the guy who not long ago was talking about how the left should be more tolerant of us.

These [the Left Behind books] are the best-selling novels for adults in the United States, and they have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. The latest is "Glorious Appearing," which has Jesus returning to Earth to wipe all non-Christians from the planet. It's disconcerting to find ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety.
I wasn't aware that Christians were an ethnic group, Mr. Kristof.  I'm sure the many Jewish, Arab, Mexican, Asian, African, etc. Christians in the world would like to know WHICH ethnic group Christians are supposed to be.  Also forgotten are the thousands of evangelical Christians who don't agree with the eschatology in the books. 
These scenes also raise an eschatological problem: Could devout fundamentalists really enjoy paradise as their friends, relatives and neighbors were heaved into hell?
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason for evangelism.  Make sure that they DON'T get heaved into Hell.  Thanks for the reminder, though I doubt that many would see it as an eschatological problem.

I was listening to the radio last night as a preacher was talking about Revelation.  He said that it's a book about God's wrath on sinners.  He mentioned a bumper sticker that I had seen before -- God's coming back, and He's not happy.  The whole point of Revelation is that God is not happy with humanity in general.  He's laid out the rules, and we patently refuse to play by them.  He gives us His Son as a sacrifice, so that our sins can be forgiven.  Our attitude?  "Thanks, but no thanks.  We'll get along just fine without you."  There has not been a time in history when God has been worshipped even by a majority of the poplulation of Earth -- even now, when so many people profess Christianity. 

To sum up the rest of Mr. Kristof's article, it is an impassioned plea for tolerance -- including religious tolerance.  Not the kind he talked about before -- he wants Christians to give up the whole "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No man comes to the Father except by Me" bit, continue to do good things for people everywhere, and play nicely with others.
If we do that, we condemn people everywhere to hell.  I'm not willing to let my friends, family members, or neighbors get "heaved into Hell", Mr. Kristof, so I won't be taking your advice.  I'm going to continue to live my life dedicated to making sure that if someone I know does end up going there, it won't be because I allowed it to happen.  If you know a Christian who is willing to do that, just so that people think they're nice or tolerant, then that person has a warped sense of Christianity, and you should run from them.


Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)


Sporatic posting ahead -- as if you didn't already know.  My mother-in-law is out of the hospital, but not really out of the woods yet.  She goes back to the doctor on Wednesday for another checkup.  My wife is still there taking care of her, and I'm trying to do about five different things at once here at home.  My mom and aunt and uncle are due here any time today.  Then Thursday I head to Virginia to start the trip to the beach.

I should be able to post at the beach -- I'm taking the laptop with me, and I'll have some time in the evenings to post.  Hopefully, there won't be a lull like there has been the past few days.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

By the Way -- New Feature!!!

In case you haven't noticed - top middle of the page is a search bar!  I figured that there were enough posts that it might be helpful in case you want to find a specific post -- I've used it a couple of times.  Especially if you're here from the Fundamentalist Forums and are trying to find my posts about the Constitution Party ;)

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2004

The Carnival is Coming!!

The Christian Carnival, that is!

This coming Wednesday, July 21, is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted by Mr. Standfast. 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.

And once again, I miss the deadline.  Sigh.  Head over to Mr. Standfast and check out the Carnival.  Maybe vacation will help me get my act together.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

Someone Agrees With Me (Sort Of) #2

Who says lightning doesn't strike twice?  Take a look at Robert Spenser's opinion on Nicholas Kristof's artice that I talked about yesterday.

(Thanks to GetReligion for the heads up.)

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 4:1-20

4:1Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,and may indeed hear but not understand,lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

This is a BIG passage to study, but I've included Christ's explanation of the parable, so I don't have to comment there.  What I want to do is talk a little about Christ's use of parables.

Sometimes we think that the purpose was to make things easier to understand.  But it's clear from this passage that his parables were NOT easily understood by those who heard them.  In fact, it seems that Jesus is using parables so that people CAN'T understand Him.

The people who followed Him to see the miracles and to be healed couldn't handle the implications of His being the Messiah.  They had an idea of the Messiah as a political hero, who was going to free Israel from the oppression of the Romans.  Christ didn't want them to think He was going to do that -- he wanted to make clear that His kingdom was not of this earth, and He was here for a totally different purpose.  The twelve He had chosen had been given understanding by God, so that they could see His role (and as we read in Acts, they STILL didn't get it), so He taught them in a way that only they would be able to understand, or so that they would receive the explanation later on. 

The Holy Spirit has been given so that everyone might be able to believe -- one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to help people to understand God's message.  The religious leaders of Christ's time couldn't understand that message fully because they had closed their minds off to Him.  They had decided what Messiah was going to be, and they weren't going to be persuaded otherwise.  This is what Jesus was talking about when He talked about new wine in old wineskins -- the new message of the Gospel wouldn't fit into the Jews' existing religious program.  A new wineskin had to be made, and that is what Jesus was training His disciples to do.  Our mission now is to take that new wine to the world -- and give them the new wineskins to hold it as well.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2004

Timely Advice from 1785

From Andrew Fuller, one of the most influential theologians/pastors in Baptist history.

Christians are said to be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth -- do we answer these characters?  Is the world enlightened by us?  Does a savor of Christ accompany our spirit and conversation?  Our business, as Christians, is practically to be holding forth the word of life.  Have we, by our earnestness, sufficiently held forth its importance, or by our chaste conversations, coupled with fear, its holy tendency?  Have we all along, by a becoming firmness of spirit, made it evident that religion is no low, mean or dastardly business?  Have we by a cheerful complacency in God's service, gospel, and providence sufficiently held forth the excellency of his government and the happy tendency of his holy religion?  Doubtless, the most holy and upright Christians in these matters will find great cause for reflection, and room for amendment; but there are not many who scarcely ever think about them, or, if they do, it only ammounts to this, to sigh, and go backward, resting satisfied with a few lifeless complaints, withouth any real and abiding efforts to have things otherwise?
from his letter "Causes of declension in religion, and means of revival

Fuller wrote that letter at a time of spiritual downturn for the church.  Attendance was low, membership was lukewarm, and nobody seemed to know what to do about it.  Sound familiar?  As I read the letter, it struck me that Fuller could be writing to us, today, about our situation.  We live in a time of increased learning, yet we learn little of the things of God.  What we do learn is rarely applied, as if God's Truth is for another time.  Fuller writes that if we are to make a difference in our world, we must take God's truth and make it real in our own lives.  Be salt.  Be light.

Salt doesn't only season a portion of a dish -- it lends its taste to the whole thing.  We cannot only be salt on Sunday.  We must be salt 24-7-365.  There are no furloughs in God's army; no three-day-passes.  We have been called to make a difference in this world, and there are a lot of people slacking.

I'd challenge everyone who reads this to thing about what Fuller wrote.  People listened to him in his day.  The immediate result was a time of concerted, dedicated prayer for souls, and for a revival of the church.  The long-term goal was a little something historians call the Second Great Awakening.  Sounds like Fuller knew what he was talking about.  I think he still has something to say to us, if we'd only listen to him.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2004

Nobody Caught Me!!!!

I made a rather large mistake yesterday -- large especially for someone who is an aspiring church historian like I am.  I said First Great Awakening, in connection with Andrew Fuller's ministry.  Fuller was involved in the Second Great Awakening -- a fact that I have fixed in yesterday's post.

Nobody caught me -- and I can think of at least one other Southern Seminary student who probably should have .......

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

New "Feature"

It's not really a feature, and I feel kinda dumb for not having done this before, but if you click on wither of the Pew pictures at the top of the page, it will take you to the main page.  For example, if you click here from a search engine, or an aggregator, and you want to go to the main page, just click the picture.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Christian Carnival

This coming Wednesday (7-28) the Christian Carnival will be hosted at Fringe. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read, and possibly pick up a few readers.

To enter, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude ones that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. (7-22 or after) Then, do the following:

email me (Jeremiah Lewis) at [E-mail address redacted]

Please put "Christian Carnival" in the subject line so I don't delete it accidentally. Please provide the following:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Short description of the post

The cut off is Tuesday July 27 at 11PM Eastern Daylight Time.


And I'm ON TIME!!!!!  YAAAY ME!  I can even get something sent in, so I'll be IN the Carnival this time, after a long absence.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2004

Christian Carnival

The Carnival has arrived at Fringe.  Stop by and check it out -- AND I have a post there!  VftP returns to the carnival -- vacation really has helped me get my act together.

There are some outstanding posts there -- I'm off to read tight now.  Go ye, and do likewise.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2004

Writers Block? Just Google Moore!!

Have I mentioned how little I care for Michael Moore?  Thought so.

"We were used to such messages in the communist days. Everybody has open eyes and can understand that this is propaganda. It was a weak film that tells us nothing new." -- VACLAV KLAUS, president of the Czech Republic, after watching the Michael Moore documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Pretty cool when the president of the Czech Republic agrees with my taste in propaganda films.  And notice the comparison to communist propaganda?  No surprise where Mr. Moore gets his training from.

Thanks for the heads-up goes to By Farther Steps, who has just been added to the blogroll.  Currently, he's discussing hell, and our misconceptions of it.  All my annihilationist friends should head over there and learn something!!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

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