Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Braised Hawaiian Pork over Rice

In response to your requests here is the recipe for Braised Hawaiian Pork.

This will knock your socks off!

Vegetable Stock
1 Lime
2 Lemon Grass stalks
1 Red Bell Pepper - 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
vegetable oil (Grapeseed, Peanut, or Canola - Not Olive)
1 whole hawaiian onion
Chinese 5 Spice
Cracked Red pepper
Water Chestnuts
Coconut Milk (Lite)
Soy Sauce
Brown Sugar
Country Style Boneless ribs

Heat oil in large saute pan (enough oil to cover bottom of the pan)
Saute ribs in a large saute pan over high heat (sear flavor, brown on all sides)
Remove ribs
De-glaze the saute pan by pouring in a little bit of vegetable stock (loosen all pieces of meat and stir)
let stock burn off and add more oil
Stir in chopped onion, ginger (table spoon or more if you like), finely chopped lemon grass (both stalks), and 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic cloves
Add red and yellow bell pepper (cut into strips)

Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice
Add 1/4 cracked red pepper


Add ribs back into pan
Add vegegtable stock (2/3 of pan)

1 tblspoon of soy sauce
squeeze in fresh lime juice from lime
Add 1 tablspoon of brown sugar (whisk it in)
Add a drizzle of coconut milk

Simmer for 60 to 80 minutes

Plating the Braised Hawaiian Pork
Place pork ribs over rice
Place pepper strips over meat for garnish and flavor
pour sauce over meat, pepper strips and rice from pan
place 4 to 6 water chestnusts on top of meat and rice
add diced scallions on top
Top with pineapple ring

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

MacArthur on the "Reformed Revival" Part I and II

Part I

Part II

Mellowed by Trials

'The exercised and experienced Christian, by the knowledge he has gained of his own heart and the many difficulties he has had to struggle with, acquires a skill and compassion in dealing with others."

--John Newton

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Morning Facts

In conjunction with Seams Inspired's Blogfest, I give you my Monday Morning Facts, for what shall we say? For your enjoyment, entertainment, encouragement, curiosity, concern, comprehension, snoopiness, wonder, amusement, to tickle your funny bone, and or your inquisitivness!

FACT:  Dropped my Buick off at Stirling Buick Honda body shop for a repair. A shopping cart rolled off the dock at Habitat for Humanity causing a small crater in the right fender. Holy Cow! 3 days to repair and 763.00 dollars. H. H. was great and their insurance took care of making things right. Thanks Habitat for Humanity!

FACT:  America's Got Talent was incredible Tuesday night! I wrote down the five acts I felt would go through to the top ten. I also picked a "dark-horse that I thought could derail one of the selections I made.

FACT:  Didn't get the Buttermilk Baked Chicken prepared. Oldest daughter Shannon and granddaughter Madilynn came over for dinner along with Irene's close friend Nancy. I lightly salted and peppered then prepared a homemade dry rub for boneless skinless chicken breasts and grilled them to perfection. We had corn of the cob, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade, and Creedence Clear Water Revival along with loads of fun. You guys should have dropped by! (L to R Madilynn, Shannon -the year on the camera is wrong)

FACT:  Watched the results show this morning on HULU from Wednesday's results show. I listed 5 selections along with a "dark-horse"  (WSDT) that I thought would knock out one choice (Daniel Joseph Baker). Four of my selections were put through and to my disappointment, my dark-horse selection did in fact knock out my final pick. In essence I picked all five acts that were put through this week. (Left - one of the selected acts, POPLYFE)

FACT:  Well, I tried and I failed! I lasted 10 days and couldn't go any further today. I tried to break a 44 year habit of coffee. This morning I brewed some fresh ground French Vanilla coffee and oh my gosh! If heaven, fantasies, love, greatness, and pleasure could be reduced to a cup, it would be a cup of hot, strong, and black COFFEE!

FACT:  No offense intended at all toward Welcome to My World of Poetry and other British friends but I am glad we won the Revolutionary War and secured Independence. First, I couldn't do the accent and second, I couldn't become a tea drinker. I must have my coffee rather than a spot of tea, even with milk and cookies!

FACT:  Since 1600, the British East India Company had a monopoly on importing goods from outside Europe, and it is likely that sailors on these ships brought tea home as gifts. But the first dated reference to tea in this country is from an advert in a London newspaper, Mercurius Politicus, from September 1658. Catherine of Braganza - she made tea fashionable in BritainIt announced that 'China Drink, called by the Chinese, Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee' was on sale at a coffee house in Sweeting's Rents in the City. The first coffee house had been established in London in 1652, and the terms of this advert suggest that tea was still somewhat unfamiliar to most readers, so it is fair to assume that the drink was still something of a curiosity.
It was the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza that would prove to be a turning point in the history of tea in Britain. She was a Portuguese princess, and a tea addict, and it was her love of the drink that established tea as a fashionable beverage first at court, and then among the wealthy classes as a whole. Capitalising on this, the East India Company began to import tea into Britain, its first order being placed in 1664 - for 100lbs of China tea to be shipped from Java.
FACT:  Desiderius Erasmus one said, "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.  Marcus Tullius Cicero believed, "A room without books is like a body without a soul." Sidonie Gabrielle said, "Real poverty is lack of books." Today I chose to forgo filling the gas tank and bought The Portable Seminary: A Master's Level Overview In One Volumfrom Christian Book Distributors (CBD) I will wear last years clothes, my body has a soul, and I AM RICH!

FACT:  Had a great time of fellowship, not to mention perfect Braised Hawaiian Pork over rice Saturday night with good friends Josh and Erin Litton. We spent would could be our last night together this side of heaven as they end their ministry in Scappoose, OR Sunday and leave for Chicago on Wednesday. I cooked dinner for us all and we talked about God and His grace and our hopes for the future before we prayed for them and commitment our friends to God and His care.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones
       David Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a Welsh Protestant minister and preacher who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.
       Lloyd-Jones was strongly opposed to the liberal theology that had become a part of many Christian denominations, regarding it as aberrant. He disagreed with the broad church approach and encouraged evangelical Christians (particularly Anglicans) to leave their existing denominations, taking the view that true Christian fellowship was only possible amongst those who shared common convictions regarding the nature of the faith. 

"The most vital question to ask about all who claim to be Christian is this: Have they a soul thirst for God? Do they long for this? Is there something about them that tells you that they are always waiting for His next manifestation of Himself? Is their life centred on Him? Can they say with Paul that they forget everything in the past? Do they press forward more and more that they might know Him and that the knowledge might increase, until eventually beyond death and the grave they may bask eternally in 'the sunshine of His face?' That I might know him!"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Seven Things You Won't Find in the Bible...I Dare You To Look

1.  God helps those who help themselves

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly....But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:68

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
Jeremiah 17:5

2.  Cleanliness is next to godliness

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:3

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:26-27

3.  God works in mysterious ways

Though uncertain in origin and certainly not found in Scripture (the phrase may originate from William Cowper's hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way"), that God does work in ways curious and beyond the measure of our limited experience and conception is obvious. Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us that: The secret things belong to the Lord our God. The final chapters of Job present God's reprimand of Job wherein He asks how Job could possibly understand or judge the reasons for God's actions (Job being so far removed from God in power, wisdom, and longevity). 

And perhaps the biggest mystery is revealed us in Romans 8:28. And we know that all thing work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Though we may not understand the purpose of our circumstances in God's plan, we are assured that every detail will work for the benefit of the Redeemed.

4.  To thine own self be true

When prompting people to follow their conscience on matters, the oft-touted "To thine own self be true" is occasionally cited as a Biblical recommendation. In truth, this saying originates in the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet. Polonius, the older counselor of Prince Hamlet's uncle, King Claudius, is in the midst of dispensing advice to his son Laertes (who was about to leave Denmark and return to France) when he speaks forth the famous line: "This above all things: to thine own self be true" (Hamlet, 3.1.81). Among his platitudes, he also says, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" (3.1.78) — another saying occasionally mistaken for Scripture. 

But really how good is Polonius's advice? Scripturally, we can only trust our conscience to guide us as far as it is being informed by the Spirit of God. Men, of their natural selves, are entirely corrupted; and so, to hold true to themselves would be to choose poorly indeed. Rather, we should seek God in prayer and ask Him to guide us in the paths of righteousness (cf. Psalm 23:3). 

5.  This too shall pass

Trials and difficult circumstances are difficult to bear and one comfort that many have come to share with friends assailed by trouble is the saying: "This too shall pass." Though the possible origins of this saying are too many and varied to review in depth, one early reference comes from the Old English poem, Deor (c. AD 10th century).

An adequate question for the believer to ask, though, is how biblical is the comfort found in the reminder that "This too shall pass." Really we should be focusing on the promise of what awaits us who believe. Romans 5 reminds the believer that suffering produces hope for the kingdom of God; if we simply take heart in the temporary end of a given earthly trial, we are finding comfort in the wrong thing.

6.  Moderation in all things

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:25)

7.  Spare the rod, spoil the child

He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Proverbs 13:24

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol. Proverbs 23:13-14

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15

(Based on information obtained from the Blue Letter Bible)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Timothy: Fellow Worker Par Excellence!

 Companion, Brother, Son, and Right Hand Man

As we have examined various friends of the faith in our Heroes and Heroines post on Friday, we have saved one the most well known and beloved hero of the apostolic age until now. There is ample reason to save this friend of the faith for this late mention in our friends and heroes collection.

Timothy was associated with Paul almost longer than any other individual in the New Testament. Timothy became an associate of the Apostle Paul at a very early stage in Paul’s “second missionary journey.” Timothy remained an associate of Paul until the end of Paul’s life.

Timothy, first hand was able to witness the sufferings of the Apostle Paul. Timothy had also been sent on numerous assignments as the right hand man of Paul in whom Paul trusted the most to carry out his instructions to both the letter and heart. We know that Paul wrote a number of churches letters in which he included Timothy in the greetings and salutations. There are two extant letters to Timothy from the Apostle Paul. These letters are marked by tender references, genuine love, and fervent appreciation for Timothy.

We first are introduced to Timothy by Luke in his historical narrative, The Acts of the Apostles, in Acts 16. In this reference we are told that Timothy is the son of a Jewess who had become a believer. We are told that Timothy’s mother’s name was Eunice and his grandmother’s name was Lois. Even though Timothy’s father was most likely an unbeliever, Timothy had at least two generations of Christian influence on his young life.

Timothy was from a city called Lystra in what we know today as Turkey. Paul meets Timothy in Lystra and is extremely impressed with him. Later Paul will speak of Timothy as “his own son in the faith,” which means that more than likely Paul was involved in Timothy’s conversion. Timothy was very highly thought of by those surrounding him, including those who were Christians.

Why did Paul choose Timothy? What was there about this young man that so impressed the Apostle? Paul was a somewhat hard to please. Do you remember how he rejected John Mark? We don’t have a definitive statement or explanation of what Paul saw in Timothy, but we do have a statement at one point that says, “He was like-minded with Paul.” He and Paul shared the same vision, the same goals, and the same heart. This was so important to Paul.

Listen as Paul recommends Timothy to the Corinthian Community Church, “I have sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.” (I Corinthians 4:17) In another place Paul writes, “If Timotheus comes, see that he may be with you without fear, for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.” (I Corinthians 16:10)

As a companion, trust-worthy associate Timothy was privilege to meet and travel with a great host of other heroes and heroines of the faith. He worked with, traveled with and was acquainted with Aquila and Priscilla, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus, Trophimus, Titus, Silvanus, Onesimus, Epaphroditus, even Demas, Luke, and many others. He assisted in founding a number of churches with Paul and was partner in the conversion of untold multitudes of souls.

Paul and Timothy seem to be such an odd pair to be so greatly used in the church of the living God. Timothy had a timid personality. He was often afraid and unsure of himself. Timothy seemed to have a “delicate” constitution. He had stomach problems of some sort that often hindered in his work. Timothy was even neglectful at times since we see Paul at times urging Timothy to be diligent in spiritual duites. At times Timothy was even “despised” by some older people in the church because he was young. On the other hand, if Timothy were like a lamb, Paul was like a lion, fearless and ferocious. Paul was like a rhinoceros charging into the enemy’s territory with great boldness.

The qualities however that Timothy had were qualities that endeared him to Paul and are qualities that we should seek to develop in our own lives. Timothy was faithful, considerate, gentle, able to deal with difficult situations with little or no supervision, dedicated to both Christ and the tasks that were at hand, teachable, and he continually grew in his faith. In all things Timothy was certainly, Paul’s: “μου συνεργος,” “my workfellow.” (Romans 16:21)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Word Study: λογιζομαι

"...Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." (James 2:23b, ESV)

Our word for today's word study is the Greek word  λογιζομαι. It is found in the latter half of James 2:23. Comparing eight English translations reveals this word has been translated six different ways; "imputed, accounted, counted,  reckoned, credited,and declared. 

Careful students of Scripture will attempt to translate the original word with the English word that most clearly conveys the original meaning. There does not seem to be a unanimous or majority agreement on the meaning of this word.

Our word is used only 41 times in the Greek New Testament. It is translated as think nine times, impute 8 times, reckon 6 times, count 5 times, account 4 times, suppose 2 times, reason 1 time, number 1 time and then fives times with lesser miscellaneous words.

Working with the predominant translators allows us to conclude that this word is a hard to accurately and fully  display its meaning. That doesn't help a lot, but it is a start.

Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1969) defines impute as: 1:.  to lay the responsibility or blame for: charge; 1b: to credit to a person or a cause: attribute; 2:  to credit by transferal

Interestingly enough this word λογιζομαι is used only one time by James. Therefore we cannot compare the usage of this same word without usages in order to gain more insight as to why James chose this word.

Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines λογιζομαι as "to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over with the idea of "to take into account, to make account of." When used as a metaphor it means  "to pass to one's account, to impute." It can carry the idea of reckon, to lay to one's charge.

Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines λογιζομαι "to reckon, take into account" or metaphorically, "to put down to a person's account."

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the Revised Standard Bible (RSV) both translate  λογιζομαι as reckoned. The New International Version (NIV) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) each translate it as credited.

In common Greek there are two distinctive uses of λογιζομαι and both uses contain the idea of "an act of thought." The first usage is found in commercial dealings. This word is found often in legal writings for "charging up a debt." In this field it referred to estimating the value of an object or adding up the total debt in view of the debt being paid.  It was also used in classical writings. It was used in regards "to deliberate, or to conclude."

λογιζομαι was also used in regards to the Saving Act of God. It refers to "the imputing of faith." The utilization of this word links salvation with faith which in turn demonstrates the problem with merit. Faith is reckoned for righteousness because faith is pleasing to the will of God, and not because faith has any intrinsic value.

This word must be interpreted in light of the events in Genesis chapter twenty two. The event in Genesis 22 did not invalidate the biblical statement in Genesis fifteen that Abraham was justified by faith. What it did was demonstrate what had taken place earlier.

Thirty years earlier when God told Abraham that he would be "blessed" Abraham believed God. This belief is crucial, it doesn't mean that Abraham simply believed the words that God spoke, but Abraham's faith centered upon God Himself. Abraham was convinced by the character of God that God possessed what was necessary to fulfil the promise and as a result the promise would be fulfilled. Abraham's implicit trust in this promise "was credited" to him as righteousness. God placed to the account of Abraham saving grace. God took Abraham's faith and regarded his faith as having the "value of righteousness." Mind you, Abraham did not have righteousness within himself, he was a sinner, he fell short of God's standard.  God accepted Abraham's complete trust in His word as the equivalent of the right actions that must follow from that faith.

So, God counted or calculated the faith of Abraham with the same weight or value as saving righteousness. This is the same thing for us who have been made by God's grace His children. God at the moment of regeneration, gives us gift of faith in which we use to trust or believe God in regards to the truth of the gospel. Since God values this faith as equivalent to the necessary righteousness for salvation, He counts us as righteous which enables God to declare or state that we are just or justified.

Join us on Theological Thursday as we will continue to offer theological truths by unlocking the meaning of various words, terms, and definitions through the posting of the attributes of God, word studies, and events from church history. As both a pastor and Theologian I hope to convey to you the same love for theology that I have.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Use the Reproofs of Friends and Enemies

There are times when a friend or an enemy will issue a reproof or rebuke against you. Even if these reproofs or rebukes are not true or warranted and even if you honestly feel you did not deserve them, can they be of any benefit? The answer is yes! These friendly or not so friendly reproofs and rebukes can be used of God in order to:

  • ·         Make you more aware of and affronted by sin 

  • ·         Make you more jealous over your relationship and walk with God 

  • ·         Enhance your fellowship with God 

  • ·         Be driven to keep both your heart and life unblameable before God 

  • ·         Force you to reflect and mediate on your lack of spirituality 

  • ·         Abhor the sin that continues to reside in your unredeemed flesh 

  • ·         Look humbly upon yourself as unworthy of grace, yet as an abundant recipient 

  • ·         Know that apart from Christ you are vile, little, mean, and less than nothing 

  • ·         Pray properly for the use of grace to be rightly appropriated in your life.

(Based upon a prayer entitled “Reproofs” in The Valley of Vision, p. 82)

Join us on Gospel-driven Discipleship Wednesdays as we continue to highlight discipleship with various articles, news, events, opinions, and book reviews as I work toward fulfilling the five purposes of this blog  (see right sidebar of blog) and continue to supply biblical principles of discipleship. I hope to provide the reader with teachings related to beginning, intermediate, and advanced steps that enhance the discipleship process.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Commandments - Southern Style

1)  Jest one God

2)  Put nuttin' before yer God

3)  Watch yer mouth

4)  Git yerself to Sunday meetin'

5)  Honor yer Ma and Pa

6)  No killin' (even ifens he needs it)

7)  No foolin' round with another feller's gal or another gal's feller

8)  No taking ain't what yers

9)  No tellin' tales or gossipin'

10)  No hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Morning Facts

In conjunction with Seams Inspired's Blogfest, I give you my Monday Morning Facts, for what shall we say? For your enjoyment, entertainment, encouragement, curiosity, concern, comprehension, snoopiness, wonder, amusement, to tickle your funny bone, and or your inquisitivness!

Fact:  August 10th came and went with little fan-fare, but it marked our first anniversary of having Fi Fi come live with us. She has been a real joy even with her bad habit of "runnin." She has taken off twice lickety split. Fortunately she will come back, in her good timing, to "Here!" She knows she gets a treat when she hears "here."

Fact:  My daughter Sonja (Portland) was in Longview on business Monday and stopped by to see us! She took mom to lunch and brought me an Asian Salad. Yep, it was yummy! (L to R - Irene, Sonja)

Fact:  I am truly thankful that my daughters got their beautiful looks, bubbly personality, and all over wonderfulness from their mother! 

Fact:  Irene picked the name Sonja because she liked the name that her close high school girlfriend bore and I chose Aurora as a middle name because first, it started with "A" and second, I liked the name ever since I heard of Aurora, Colorado.

Fact:  I was disappointed that West Springfield Dance Team was put through to the semi-finals over Shevonne. I don't care for WSDT. (I am still rooting and pulling for Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr, to win.)

Fact:  I am crazy!  I know you would have never thought I was, but it is a fact, and everyday, rather than just on Mondays. I have taken over the majority of cooking and dish washing duties. I really like to cook but what I find amusing is the regularity of it. Why do we have to eat on such a consistent basis? 3 meals a day times 7 days is 21 meals, not counting snacks or treats. An average of 10 cutlery, flatware, and/or cooking utensils per meal is 30 kitchen items a day to wash, times 7 days or 210 items per week - average. Now let's see what Irene has done for the past 38 years we have been married, oops, 37. I have to subtract 395 days I was deployed overseas. Now we were married during that year I was overseas but she didn't have to cook for me. So, where was I, oh yes! First, there is 13, 505 days in that 37 years (discounting the leap years) times 3 meals a day - that is approximately 40, 515 meals she cooked. I say approximately, many times I did BBQ and we went out or were invited out. 40, 515 meals times an average of 10 kitchen items to wash, she washed approximately 405, 150 kitchen items. 

Fact:  This is a good illustration of why you should read your bible regularly, even if you don't remember one thing or everything that you have read. Irene cooked over 40, 515 meals for me and I can't remember 99% of them, but I certainly got some nutrition out of every one of them. Something from every meal supplied a need in my body and they stuck with me for the time they needed to. Bible reading is the same way, you get something from it each time you "feast" upon it and something will stick with you.

Fact:  The movie The Music Never Stopped is fantastic! I give it two thumbs up, five stars, and nominate it for Best Picture of the year! You will laugh, cry, and be drawn into the story.

Fact:  Life is good - it is August and the lock-out is over, preseason is under way and the Seahawks have a new coach and quarterback. Go Seattle!

Join me each Monday as I share personal information in the format of Monday Facts. It seems inspired by many who enjoy personal tid-bits and information about blogger friends including myself. So each Monday for awhile I will regale you by sharing personal thoughts, events, and opinions from a personal perspective.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"God is not the God of the dead
but of the living; for all live to Him."
Luke 20:38

The emanation or communication of the divine fullness, consisting in the knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in  him, has relation indeed both to God and the creature: but it has relation to God as its fountain, as the thing communicated is something of its internal fullness. The water in the stream is something of the fountain; and the beams of sun are something of the sun. and again, they have relation to God as their object; for the knowledge communicated is the knowledge of God; and the love communicated is the love God; and the the happiness communicated, is joy in God. In the creature's knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged, his fullness is received and returned. Here is both an emanation and remanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, are something of God and refunded and returned to their original. So the the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and his the beginning, and the middle, and the end.

Jonathan Edwards
The End for Which God Created The World

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Whose on First?

That can make your head hurt! Today, I am wondering "whose on first theologically?" I am seeing more can more quotes and quips from mega-church rock-stars and I can't keep up. More and more blog posts are being written to advance various view points from various groups and camps. Not only do you need a score card to keep up, it is easy to become as confused as poor Lou Costello. Sometimes my head hurts!

Some of the groups or camps that exist today are numerous. Many people have confused the terms evangelicalism and fundamentalism. These are two distinct groups with different approaches to the gospel application to the world.

Evangelical - An evangelical is someone who is part of evangelicalism which began in Great Britain in the 1730s. It became widespread in America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Within evangelicalism there are areas of distinctions: Conservative evangelicalism, open-evangelicalism, and post evangelicalism.

Key Composition of Evangelicals

Conservative Evangelicals - these consider themselves both evangelical and fundamentalist because they believe in the practices of evangelicalism when it comes to the gospel and they hold to a fundamental view of the Scriptures.

Open Evangelicals - these are typically found in the United Kingdom, specifically in the Church of England who hold to a traditional emphasis on the authority of the bible but at the same time maintaining an open approach to cultures and other theological positions which may be more inclusive and/or liberal than other evangelicals. Some try to combine conservative theological views with liberal social applications.

Post-Evangelicals - these evangelicals have been characterized as a "movement" that is dissatisfied with evangelicals. These types are often associated with and found within the emerging church movement. Apparently they are difficult to "classify" since they can be "all over the board."

Key Commitments of Evangelicals

Personal Conversion
Active sharing of the gospel
High regard for biblical authority
An Emphasis on the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God

Key Camps within Evangelicalism

Traditionalists  - this camp is characterized by a commitment to specific Protestant beliefs closely related to the basic fundamentals of fundamentalism

Centrists - this camp is more socially conservative, avoids politics, supports much of traditional Christian Theology

Modernist - this camp which is a small but growing segment is much more ecumenical and possess more tolerance and diversity in their beliefs

Fundamental/Fundamentalist - early on, evangelicalism was dominated by "fundamentalist" beliefs. Fundamentalists rejected all liberal theology, mainline denominations, and held to separation from the world and worldliness. Unfortunately the movement became known for the kooks and the fringe who became known as "Fighting Fundies." Men within the movement began to move away from these types and a split developed in the Evangelical Fundamental Movement.

Neo-Evangelical - soon after WWII ended a theological split took place among evangelicals concerning how believers are to respond to an unbelieving world. Some believed that the church must engage the culture directly and constructively. They also began to distance themselves from "fundamentalists" and did not want to be known by the term due to the bad publicity many were giving to it.

Harold Ockenga coined a new "designation" in 1947 by the term "new evangelical." Ockenga wanted to emphasize the positivism and non-militancy that characterized evangelicalism, especially fundamentalism. This camp decided to abandon a hard line militant biblical stance and adopt dialogue, intellectualism, non-judgmentalism, and appeasement. The also wanted to apply the gospel to the sociological, political, and economic areas in society.

Ecumenists - for a time a number of voices both "fundamental" and "neo-evangelical" believed that evangelicalism had apostatized with this new direction. Ecumenism is the movement within Christianity that aims at "the recovery in thought, in action, and in organization, of the true unity between the Church's mission to the world (its apostolate) and the Church's obligation to be one."Thus, ecumenism is the promotion of unity or cooperation between distinct religious groups or denominations of Christianity.

Emergent/Emerging ChurchesThe emerging church (sometimes referred to as the emergent movement or emergent conversation) is a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries: participants can be described as evangelical, Protestant, Catholic, Anabaptist, Adventist, liberal, post-liberal, reformed,charismatic, neocharismatic, post-charismatic, conservative, and post-conservative. Proponents, however, believe the movement transcends such "modernist" labels of "conservative" and "liberal," calling the movement a "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature, its vast range of standpoints, and its commitment to dialogue. 

Participants seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a "postmodern" society. What those involved in the conversation mostly agree on is their disillusionment with the organized and institutional church and their support for the deconstruction of modern Christian worship, modern evangelism, and the nature of modern Christian community. Members of the movement often place a high value on good works or social activism, including missional living.

CharismaticsThe term charismatic movement is used in varying senses to describe 20th century developments in various Christian denominations. It describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostals. Foundational to the movement is the belief that Christians may be "filled with" or "baptized in" the Holy Spirit as a second experience subsequent to salvation and that it will be evidenced by manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Among Protestants, the movement began around 1960. Among Roman Catholics, it originated around 1967.

Third Wave - The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit is a Christian theological theory first introduced by C. Peter Wagner to describe what he believed to be three historical periods of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the 20th century and beyond. In his 1988 book, , Wagner defines the three waves as follows:

  • The first wave at the beginning of the twentieth century with the rise of the Pentecostal movement, beginning with the Azusa Street Revival;
  • A second wave during the 1960s as the Charismatic movement spread throughout some Protestant denominations, as well as the Roman Catholic Church; and
  • A third wave during the mid 1980s.
The visible body of Christ is being torn to pieces by every new idea that comes down the pike by those who reject historical biblical theology for new ways or ideas. Rebellion permeates the visible church. Many want to deconstruct or actually demolish the visible church believing it to be archaic, failing, and unresponsive to the social, economic, and education needs of the world.

As an evangelical that holds to the fundamentals of the faith and rejects the tenets of both neo-evangelicalism and the emergent church, I believe we must get back to the basics of the bible and make disciples, not sectarians of all nations, teaching them to observe everything that Christ taught.

I would like to state my opinion if I may, I believe we are going downhill, and very rapidly. I do not think as each group develops and breaks away that we are improving on Christianity or the visible church. I think the further the visible church removes itself from the highest view of the authority of scripture, the highest view of redemption and conversion, and the highest view of separation and holiness the church moves the ranker it gets. I believe it has reached the point within Reinhold Niebuhr statement, "The church is like Noah's Ark, if it weren't for the storm on the outside, you couldn't stand the stink on the inside."

I think evangelicalism slid downward when the fringe discredited the fundamentals of the faith; I think the neo evangelicals slid downward when they rejected the tenants of fundamentalism, I think the emerging movement is a major slide downward with its rejection of even neo-evangelicalism. The Charismatic movement has been the greatest disturbance and divisive movement within the church.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Aquila and Priscilla

Friends of the Faith

“The Churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church that is in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. (I Corinthians 16:19, ESV)

I don’t I know of another couple in the bible, other than possibly Joseph and Mary who warm my heart as much as this wonderful and gracious couple does. Even with limited knowledge and information I love this pair and I look on them as if they are a dynamic duo.

God is so gracious in His providence as He supplies the right thing or the right person (s) at the right time. God graciously and providentially brought this beautiful couple into the life of the Apostle Paul and to our attention.

Paul’s second missionary journey found him in the city of Corinth. He had left Athens after a few days in the city and traveled to Corinth. At the same time the Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, or simply Claudius had expelled all of the Jews from Rome in AD 49. The Roman Historian Suetonius recorded:

Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome. He allowed the envoys of the Germans to sit in the orchestra, led by their naïve self-confidence; for when they had been taken to the seats occupied by the common people and saw the Parthian and Armenian envoys sitting with the senate, they moved of their own accord to the same part of the theater, protesting that their merits and rank were no whit inferior”

Upon meeting them Paul found them to be truly friendly companions. They also were tent-makers which was Paul’s secular trade. Since they got along so well and worked at the same job they lived together. Remember, Paul was alone and experienced despair when he was in Athens. Now in Corinth he finds warm and loving friends and fellow tradesmen, it seems the bond was almost immediate with this couple.

In no time it seems they became helpers and very active in the ministry of the Apostle Paul in Corinth. These three threw themselves into the building of the church at Corinth whole-heartedly.

We don’t know how long Paul stayed in Corinth on this second missionary journey. Acts 18:18 simply says that Paul left the brothers and set sail for Syria with him Priscilla and Aquila. He left them in Ephesus and he traveled and went to Antioch.

We don’t know what prompted Aquila and Priscilla to accompany Paul to Ephesus. They might have had some type of business there or had possible formed a plan for ministry there. We do know they agreed to stay in Ephesus and wait for Paul to return from Jerusalem.

While waiting for Paul in Ephesus an individual named Apollos came into contact with this wonderful couple. The scriptures state that he was an eloquent man, knowledgeable in the Old Testament, fervent in spirit, and even taught accurately about Jesus Christ. However, Aquila and Priscilla heard him and noticed  a certain deficiency in his preaching. They approached him and took the opportunity to further instruct him more accurately. Fortunately for the church Apollos responded well and learned from this wonderful couple.

Twice this wonderful couple is mentioned as opening their home in order to allow a church to meet or gather there for weekly services. Their home was a place where the disciples of Jesus Christ could meet freely and safely. They could meet there for worship, instruction, and for help or assistance. This husband and wife, side by side, co-operating together serving the Lord by serving the body.

Again for reasons which we do not know, Aquila and Priscilla left Ephesus and returned to Rome. Aquila was originally from the province of Pontus, Pontus or Pontos (a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey.) Maybe they had established solid roots or business there, we do not know.

When Paul writes to Rome he asks the Roman church to give his greetings to Aquila and Priscilla and to the church that is meeting in their home. This great couple has once again opened their home as a shelter for those who named the name of Jesus Christ. This wonderful, friendly, dynamic, and loving couple serves as an example of Christianity and hospitality for the rest of us.

If you read Romans 16 you will see that this couple didn’t just help or was available when convenient, but they actually risked their lives by helping the Apostle Paul. We have no information as to what transpired but they were truly involved in the work for the sake of Jesus Christ.

As I write this paragraph my eyes fill with tears. This friendship of Paul with Aquila and Priscilla continued for the rest of Paul’s life. He loved this couple very much and probably prayed for them and thought of them often. I wish I knew what this couple and Paul experienced that so strengthened their love and cemented their friendship. You ask me why, my eyes filled with tears?

This friendship continued as I said until the end of Paul’s life. When Paul is certain and soon to die he sends a brief and hurried letter to his most beloved and trusted companion, and assistant in the faith, Timothy. He has limited time, he wants to write hurriedly and get this letter off to Timothy in hopes that Timothy will make to Rome in time. As he closes this personal plea and testimony, he tells Timothy to “Greet Prisca and Aquila…” His life is almost over and he still remembers those whom he has loved and served with and who have meant something to him. He sends them a loving salutation – the only other salutation in this letter is to his old friend Onesiphorus.

I pray almost daily that the Lord will bring an Aquila and Priscilla into my life here in Longview. I pray God would be as gracious to me as he was to Paul by providentially giving me such a dynamic duo and couple as these two were.