Berean Blog

Random thoughts from a Doulos Theos (servant of God)

Location: Rocky Point, North Carolina, United States

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I had the oddest flashback experience Saturday night. No, it wasn’t drug-induced; I imbibed enough alcohol in my unregenerate years to never have the need for other mind-altering substances.

I heard a snippet of a Phil Collins song on a television commercial, which took me on a Phil Collins quest. I knew we had his compilation album, Hits, somewhere, so I hunted it down before I went to retrieve the Arrows from their Saturday night service, and played it in the Kimchi-van for the trip.
As a reminder, Phil was big in the Eighties. I mean, he was Da Man, at least in the small circles in which I circulated. And the Eighties were my coming-of-age; I started the decade as a teeneager, and finished it in Central America.

I’m an auditory creature – it’s my learning style, and it’s my most prevalent memory trigger. That can be a boon and it can also be a poltergeist, if you will. By poltergeist, I mean a haunting presence with a malevolent ability to impact my surroundings.
Through the melodic time-machine of "In the Air Tonight" and "Take Me Home", I went back in time to my adolescence. I should have just left the commercial alone, but I’ll deal with that in a bit.
I had specific scenes and locales come into fresh recall, just as if they were events from last month! It was frightening on one hand, yet comforting and alluring on the other. I began to wonder why I had ever chosen to leave that lifestyle behind.

Why fight to live a life pleasing to Christ? Why struggle with the unseen? Why deny the pleasures of sin for a season?
Aha – there’s the catch; it’s that last part of Hebrews 11:25 that we always seem to overlook, and it’s always that part that eventually, tragically, comes to fulfillment.

There are times that I’m actually glad that I was saved from the life from which I was called. For one, it makes me a better parent (because there’s virtually nothing in which the Arrows can indulge that Dee and I haven’t experienced). For another, I can better minister to those still struggling with battles that Christ has allowed me to overcome. That’s all part of the "God meant it for good (Gen. 50:20)" testimony of my personal old man.

At the same time, had I kept the holy life for which He created me in the first place, I wouldn’t continually be forced to revisit previously vanquished battlefields. In that, I battle the only real incident of envy in my new life experience; I admire those (like some of my former classmates) at whom I used to sneer for their "sheltered lives".

Sin always has its price. Did that come through? Sin always has its price.

Oh, can I identify with Paul in Romans chapter seven!
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Yes, I could easily surrender to the siren song of a life of carnality. But, beloved, at what price? To live, as Thoreau worded it, a life of quiet desperation? To face each day forcing back the subconscious wonder of where my life is heading, vainly hoping that I will have some minor impact? To have to face each night drinking myself to sleep because I know the answer to that question?

No, He works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, the ones who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. I can embrace the fact that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes me free from the law of sin and death. God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Why? So the righteousness of the law could be fulfilled in me, if I walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-4).

Saints, if you face struggles similar to those I described, there is hope. I can recognize the encounter as a warning flag. I can either drive on into the danger, or I can detour.
I’m taking the detour. It leads to higher ground, anyway.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I'm officially a grownup now -- I've been summoned for jury duty!
I don't have to appear until next month, so I don't yet know what it involves. Perhaps some input would help?
What little I know of jury duty was gleaned as a child from a Flintstones episode. For those not cultured enough to be familiar either with the artistry that was the show, or the episode in question, I'll elaborate. Fred ends up on a jury, and the foreman at that, for a murder trial. They find the defendant guilty, who later escapes from prison and vows his revenge on Fred.
Before the reader begins to worry that your humble doulos has lost touch with reality, please let me reassure you. Not living in the Stone Age, as did Fred, my home is more secure (and better armed) than was his, and our dog is more loyal than was his sabretooth tiger, not to mention that I'm smarter than Fred. And I'll tell him that in person if I ever meet him.
Seriously though, we are talking about Pender County, North Carolina. With few exceptions, the biggest crime in these here parts just may be when Gus gets drunk and hunts deer out of season with his 4X4. I'm not saying Pender County residents are yokels (cuz I are one), just not as sophisticated (read that uptight) as our neighbors to the south in New Hanover and Brunswick counties.
So, how bad can it be? I guess we'll discover that when the time comes.

Along the lines of pride in residency, I had a unique experience in a convenience store last week.
Has anyone else noticed that convenience stores have become the great melting pot of society? If time permits, spend more than five minutes in one during any given day; you'll see every strata of Western civilization, from the "dregs" who are there for their daily quota of Bud and pork rinds to the "hoity-toitys" who have been forced by necessity to rub elbows with the {sniff}commoners for the sake of a bit of petrol.
I was at the counter to pay for my daily Pepsi quota when the clerk called me "sir". Even though I am perpetually 17 years old (as evidenced by the opening of this post), I am accustomed to being called "sir" from time to time. Even so, something about the way she said it caught me off guard; perhaps it was the fact that it was actually sincere.
I couldn't help but react, so she remarked, "You must be one of those people that doesn't like to be called 'sir'." "No," I countered (pardon the expression!), "I'm just not used to it."
"Must be a Yankee", I heard from behind me in line. I turned to see some "good ole boy", who was all of twenty-something, who was playing with a lighter display at the counter. Now, I don't normally label people, particularly based upon scant first impressions, but allow me to paint a picture and draw your own conclusions. Cut-off Harley shirt, dirty blue jeans, a two-dollar bait-store-variety ballcap...getting an image? Two boys in the same family named "Junior", perhaps?
Never mind the fact that I've been here since he was in diapers, I think I've assimilated quite nicely, thank you.
The part of the encounter that incensed me was the implication that manners are somehow indigenous to the South exclusively. Yes, they have always seemed more prevalent here, but it may have shocked Mister "never been anywhere but southeastern North Carolina, but will persist in stubbornly holding preconceived notions, the veracity of which I have no earthly clue" that I have found manners to be a matter of personal choice and upbringing in every part of the world that I have frequented.

Yes, I realize the irony: I stereotyped someone who stereotyped me. Bad manners never constitutes the right to be indignant (life is too short).
However, it's a powerful reminder. We think, as a society, that we've progressed so far, and we are so wrong. As Malcolm Muggeridge said, "All news is old news happening to new people". Human nature is, was, will remain, exactly that -- human nature.

Is there a lesson?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Land of Linkin'

It is past the time to pull myself from the doldrumic (yes, it's a word -- it is now, anyway; as in "having qualities of doldrums"!) musings into which I've sunk and post.

In the interest of serving the interests of the interesting (and to clear out some of the links that I've been saving), I decided to forget originality and share the genius and inspiration of others. I hope no one minds -- and if anyone does, feel free to use the comments feature, which is collecting virtual dust from lack of use.

To briefly revisit the object of my obsession of late, a clear summary of the Gaza/North Shomron (West Bank) debacle can be found here. For a pretty good insight, I liked this article. For a Biblical perspective, Hal Lindsey is an excellent source.

Hal Lindsey has a very talented partner by the name of John Rule, a gifted cartoonist whose work is timely and thought-provoking. I highly recommend some time perusing his gallery.

Another cartoonist whose work I love is Scott Stantis. I was introduced to his strip "Prickly City" through Ann Coulter. Last week, one of his characters launched a search for a true Republican. By no means do I consider myself a Re-flub-lican OR Demo-brat -- I'm most comfortable describing myself as a Christian Libertarian (yes, I know that's an ideological oxymoron, but are you gonna do?). At any rate, I heartily enjoyed the poignancy of the beginning of said search.

Since we're quickly becoming such a "tolerant" society, here's an great look at how tolerant the "peaceful" religion of Islam is, at least in Morocco. Play it again, Bouchaib?

And yet one more reason to be thankful we live in America.

Of course, freedom has its inherent challenges.

However, anyone who doesn't love this country can just go jump in a lake...or something.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

Psalm 4:5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 71:1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
Psalm 118:9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

I awoke with this theme on my mind.
There are two different words translated as "trust" in the above passages. Where you see trust, it's from the Hebrew chacah, meaning "to seek refuge, flee for protection", and where you see trust, it's from the Hebrew batach, meaning
"1) to have confidence, be confident 2) to be bold, 3) to be secure".
Either way, it's a beautiful concept. As Peter explains it in Acts chapter 5 (an incredible story where he's challenged about proclaiming Christ), we ought to obey God rather than men. Why? Because (to combine the two Hebrew definitions) we can be confident and secure in seeking refuge and fleeing to YHWH for security!

I made a discovery recently in I Peter 5:7 (Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.). I've heard different extrapolations on what it means to "cast" our cares, but in the Greek, it's epirrhipto ("to throw upon, place upon"), which gains significance when one considers the fact that it's only found in one other place in the New Testament. That usage is in the context of the triumphal entry. To make it easier, here it is:

Luke 19:35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.

Is that an incredible picture? We are to cast our cares upon Him the same way we would drape a saddle or blanket upon a horse! When (if) we do that, to Whom does the burden belong? Upon Whom is the weight?
Matthew 10:29-31 and Luke 12:6-7 remind us that our Father's eyes are even on the sparrows, so we know He watches us; nay, He knows us so well, He knows the very number of hairs on our heads (ie. He knows us better than we know ourselves).

How does this correlate to daily life? He knows the situation in Gaza, He knows the matters of the Supreme Court, He knows the intimate details of my (and your) hourly struggles and challenges. Our responsibility ends with lifting up our hands in prayer and adoration, and leaning upon Him in childlike faith and surrender.

O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.
(Psalm 118 and 136)

Have a blessed day, beloved saints!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My apologies for not posting yesterday. With it being the official deadline for the Gaza withdrawal, I was in no mood to be light-hearted or jovial.
The entire situation is so tragic. I think what bothers me the most is the total lack of acknowledgement from the Bush administration that anything is even happening.
Now, I don't fault the president for taking vacation - he's certainly as entitled to some time off as the rest of us, if not more so. But there's just something about W. relaxing at home while Gaza settlers are being dragged from theirs that bothers me. It's largely American pressure that led to Sharon's suicidal policy of "disengagement" in the first place, and while it's being ruthlessly carried out, we hear nothing from our administration. It's just so, well, sleazy.
There are a number of sites for information on the conflict; I highly recommend this one. Definitely watch the videos, particularly "A Moment Before". To think of the knesset viewing this video, then voting for "disengagement" anyway, is heart-breaking.

On a lighter note, I mentioned the new Michael W. Smith album before. In all actuality, it's not his CD, just his songs.
Wilmington has a good radio station, but for some reason, I can't get radio reception in my office, so I listen to an excellent Internet station. I won the CD from the House, which was an early copy. I don't know if this has been caught yet, but two of the tracks are in reverse order from the listing on the CD cover. Is that not bizarre? Does that mean future releases of this album will be corrected, and I have a collector's item in my possession?

It reminded me of a similar situation in 1986, when I was stationed in 29 Palms. I had been a big fan of Boston for awhile (the band, although I loved the city too, when I visited), so I was eagerly awaiting the release of their new album, Third Stage. I walked to the exchange on the release day to buy the tape, anxiously walked back to my barracks and plugged it into my player.
Pushing play, I breathlessly awaited the melodic stylings to which I was accustomed. After a few long seconds, the player shut off. I thought, in my excitement, I must have put it in backwards. I flipped it over and pushed play again. Same result. I took the tape out and looked at carefully, discovering that the cassette had no tape!
I took it back to the exchange the next day, anticipating a skeptical response at best. After voicing my concern, the clerk wearily pointed to a display of the tapes and told me to pick out a new one. The only thing I could surmise was that the entire batch must have been defective.

I have an interesting exchange from a convenience store to relate, but I'll save it for tomorrow. Happy Friday Eve, and blessings to all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Goodbye, Irene!

I can decidedly go through another hurricane season with no visitations, but of course, it's still early in the season....

I used to have the vain idea that hurricanes didn't strike the Carolina coast while I was here (those who know me best can visualize my being egomaniacal with absolutely no stretch of mental capacity whatsoever), because the "big ones" always came when I was elsewhere, and always veered off while I was in the area.
Most notably among the former were Bertha and Fran, which came in 1996 (when I was in Korea). Among the latter was Hugo in 1989, which was heading for the Carolinas (when I was at Camp Lejeune), but battered Florida instead.
My egotistical delusions came crashing to their demise with Bonnie in 1998, where I ended up virtually babysitting scores of "grown" men and women in my barracks area at Lejeune, including pulling three knuckleheads away from the water's edge across the road from our building in 50-MPH winds, who "wanted to see how high the water had gotten".
It has always baffled me that Marines are the deadliest enemy to face for those who would threaten America, but the greatest enemy of Marines is usually themselves! That's not meant as an insult, merely part of the mystery of those beautifully unique creatures known as Leathernecks.

Dee left the house early this morning while I was getting ready for work to retrieve the three oldest of the Arrows (a new nickname for the kids, drawn from Psalm 127:5) from a lock-in. There's a church in Rocky Point that holds Saturday night youth services, where they have started attending (and the oldest two have joined the music team). At any rate, they had a lock-in last night, and came in bleary-eyed and wired.
For those unfamiliar with the term "lock-in", here's a word-association: lock-in is to teenager as blood is to shark. It's a fairly simple process of taking a group of teenagers overnight into a facility, plying them with movies, music and junk food, then releasing them (usually completely sleep-deprived) into the wild in the morning. I've always thought of adult youth workers who hold lock-ins as either really dedicated to their ministry, or clinically insane.

So last night, Dee and I just had the "twins". We watched "The Sound of Music" on DVD together. We got to the intermission, where the DVD simply has "Entr'acte" on the screen, while playing music and showing scenery from Europe. I looked at the word and said, "That must mean 'intermission'." Dee responded (in the deepest possible drawl), "Geeoh git gewbers" (Go get goobers, for the uninitiated). I about fell out of my chair laughing! Have I mentioned that she's a real gem??

I had a story about the new Michael W. Smith album, but I'd better end this for now. Blessings to all.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ever have one of those weekends where you know everything in store, and are prepared for all of it in advance?

This was NOT one of them in the Doulos realm.

Saturday was meticulously planned, with typical military precision. Dee got to the church with the kids, where they proceeded to assist as needed. However, the clock in the church (due to the height at which it's placed) is still on Daylight Savings Time, so they ended up staying an hour later than planned.
Not that I would have noticed, because I was at home working on the contents of Saturday's post (which was also unplanned - it has been bumping around the recesses of my partially-sanctified mind for some time now, and suddenly burst forth in cohesive thought!).
Late Saturday night, Dee did surprise me with a statement: "Today, I got a look at true worship". Intrigued, I responded in true deep, theological fashion, "Really? Where? How?" She said, "The sight of Mrs. X (one of our church's seasoned saints), on her hands and knees, scrubbing baseboards in the fellowship hall." She's a real gem (Mrs. X is too, but I mean Dee)!

Sunday, the big day, we got to the church a little before nine, as is our custom. I unlocked the building, and as I stepped into the hall to turn off the alarm, I noticed that the carpet had a shine to it. My first thought was, "That's odd - did someone put down Plexiglas?" Upon looking closer, I realized it was wet. Great, the carpet's been shampooed, and didn't dry overnight.
Well, the alarm is still beeping, and I'd best hurry to turn it off before the system notifies the police of an intruder. I'll just step gingerly as close to the wall as possible. When my foot hit the carpet and it sloshed, that's when I became aware of a sound, steadily making its presence known just beneath the insistent sound of the alarm system. That sounds like a shower running - and it seems to be coming from the ladies bathroom. Wait - there isn't a shower in the ladies room!
Turning off the alarm while standing in water (and noticing a fairly even layer of water covering the entire length of the hallway), I proceeded to step into the ladies room, where water
was standing deep enough to splash over the tops of my shoes with every step. Apparently, overnight, one of the commodes had developed a leak in the feeder pipe, and was spewing water at a rate roughly equal to a fire hydrant (okay, perhaps not, but it sure seemed that way as I was struggling to turn off the valve).
Splashing back into the hallway to survey the damage, I realized that water had covered the hallway, the nursery, the toddler classroom, the junior high classroom, the music office, and both bathrooms. It had also squirmed its way into the back quarter of the sanctuary. All of this on the church's biggest day, with all of our invited local heroes and distinguished guests due to begin arriving within an hour!
With a few phone calls, and as members began arriving with shop-vacs, the ill effects were minimized. With the arrival of one of the local fire departments, who brought in devices similar to shop-vacs, but looking like jet-packs, the damage was nullified to the point that the Fourth Annual Heroes Day started only about ten minutes late.
Our members are quite a group of "roll-up-your-sleeves, git-er-done" saints. The organizer, Gwen, kept things smooth, and it's my guess that this will be a day not soon forgotten!!
I will say that Wilmington's mayor is a class act. As a general rule, I don't consider politicians high on my "I think he's peachy-swell" list, but Mr. Broadhurst is just as down-to- earth and "real folks" as you'd ever hope to have as a next-door neighbor, let alone running a city.

Along the lines of government, I found this interesting. It just may be the only time I'll ever applaud our state's current governor for anything.

And speaking of disagreeing with disastrous governmental decisions, my heart is breaking over the Gaza situation. It makes me want to hop a flight to Israel and join in with the Gush Katif crowd, particularly if it progresses this far!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, beloved. Shalom.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Two Kinds of Faith?

I've been thinking about the fact that Christians can accept Christ through faith, but then struggle with the faith that accompanies a victorious Christian life. Why is that? Why can we trust God for our eternal destiny, but not with our daily existence?

Is it that saving faith is the least amount of faith we'll ever need? I thought that at first, but let's look at that concept.

To be saved by faith in Christ, I have to accept the existence of someone Whom I've never met. That's not difficult; I accept the existence of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, etc. To go further back in history, I certainly accept the existence of Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius. So in that aspect alone, saving faith is not difficult.
However, I also must accept the fact that this historical Person had always existed as part of the Godhead, willingly took human form, performed miracles that defy all contemporary (and modern) abilities, died a sinless death, and rose from the dead, and is still alive, and coming back to earth! That is a mind-boggling collection of facts to accept!

Contrast that with trusting God to provide my daily needs when I have a track record with Him, and His provision in similar situations in the past. Which is the greater faith??
With that in mind, I went to the Scriptures to reconcile the two types of faith. A pattern emerges: sanctifying faith is up to us, but saving faith is from God. If true, then not only do we have full assurance of salvation, but it should alter the way we pray for the salvation of those in our lives who are without Christ!


Before I begin, please consider:

Jam 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

If salvation is a gift (Rom. 6:23), then we can establish that we have nothing to do with it.

Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Even Jesus Christ Himself said:
Joh 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

With that in mind, let me begin.

One Definition, Two Distinctions

The word "faith" is found 245 times in 299 verses of the New Testament (KJV). Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that, with six exceptions, they are all translated from the same Greek word, pistis ("persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction [of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher], especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious [Gospel] truth itself"). So, even in the definition, we see a hint at two distinctions.

Sanctifying Faith

Sanctifying faith involves our daily walk and what should be our goal: cooperating with the Holy Spirit and His work of transforming us into the image of Christ (Rom. 12:1-2). Aside from Galatians 3 and James 2, which are entire chapters on the subject, consider the following:

Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Col 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Col 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

1Th 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
1Th 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1Th 3:5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
1Th 3:6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
1Th 3:7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
1Th 3:8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
1Th 3:9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
1Th 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

2Th 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

1Ti 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

1Ti 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

2Ti 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

2Ti 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Phm 1:5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
Phm 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

Jud 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

Rev 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

All the above passages seem to speak of a faith that is our possession and struggle, one that is tenuous at best, that can be strengthened or even lost. This certainly doesn't sound like one that is firm or sure, nor one that speaks of eternal assurance.

Phi 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Saving Faith

These seem to demonstrate a seperate faith, that of Christ, as opposed to that in Christ. The "of" in Philippians 3:9 is translated from ek, or ex ("Origin", or "out of"). I see a faith prior to sanctifying faith, that of saving faith. This seems to be borne up by the following:

Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
Gal 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(I've always heard this applied to salvation being a gift of God, but look carefully - what is the gift of God? Grace? Or faith?)

Eph 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Rev 2:13 (Christ says) I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
(Faith of Whom? Whose faith?)

Eph 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Eph 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Tit 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
(How can we be in one, common faith? For seperate individuals at seperate stages of sanctification, this would be impossible!)

1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
1Ti 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
(The word in is from "en", which carries a connotation of a fixed position. How can a faith that is a struggle be fixed?)

1Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
(Because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world, and it's His faith!)

Here's an attention-getting verse:
Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
That verse alone would seem to indicate that faith is not an indidual's prerogative or whim.

(What does this speak to the Scriptural basis of Calvinism? That's another topic though, isn't it?)
In summary, it would seem that our faith as individuals is too puny and unstable to sustain the kind of faith needed for salvation and quickening of our spirits that takes place at salvation. It would seem that God chooses to impute the faith of Christ upon willing (or predestined?) indivduals.


This means that (thankfully), faith unto salvation is not of us, else we lose it. It also means that I've been praying for the salvation of lost loved ones less effectually than I could. I need to be petitioning Abba Father, not for their choice alone, but for Christ's faith to be imparted unto them.

2Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
2Th 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

That is my thesis. What are your thoughts???

Friday, August 12, 2005

Okay, the picture post yesterday was just experimentation!

Well, Friday has arrived.

I keep waiting for the sense of jubilation that usually accompanies Fridays, but alas, it has yet to arrive. It may have something to do with the weekend ahead - the events calendar is overbooked, to say the least!

Today, Michael and Ashley are going into one of the area subdivisions with an outreach team from Wilmington Bible Chapel, where they attended Awana. It's an area not far from where a Wilmington Police Sergeant was shot recently, so Dee was understandably concerned. It's definitely a new experience!

Tomorrow is a preparation day for Liberty's annual Heroes Day. Our family had little involvement in planning it this year, which was nice, because it's shaping up to be the best one yet (hmm, is there a connection?), but the kids are involved in helping set up for it, and then serving during the lunch afterward. Ashley is also singing during the service.
After the lunch, we'll leave early to hold church service at White Oak (a new apartment complex similar to, and managed by the owners of, Gresham Place).

Sometime tomorrow, I'll be preparing the sermon for White Oak, plus coming up with a new study for Wednesday nights. After Pastor finished his study I mentioned yesterday, he asked me if I wanted to go back to teaching on Wednesdays -- what was I going to say? May as well ask Fred Astaire if he wants to dance or Michael Jackson if he feels like babysitting!
The challenge is a topic. I had thought of a study on the attributes of God (no one ever accused me of being an underachiever - well, okay they have, but why ruin a chance to be flippant?); I started research, and realized I was perhaps, uh, losing sight of the fact that Wednesday night Bible study is supposed to be brief? My latest leaning is a study on the book of Habakkuk; short, relevant, and a chance of completing the study sometime before I retire.
Not that I would mind a long stretch of teaching on Wednesday, it's just that Moody Bible Institute's fall semester starts August 23rd, and as long as the V.A. sorts through my GI Bill application in time, I'll be plenty occupied.

Speaking of being occupied, we have been trying for quite awhile now to resolve the situation involving Michael's paintball gun. Brief summary: in February, the kids were playing with their paintball guns, our neighbors found a paint dab on their truck windshield near a small crack, filed charges (in April) on Michael for damage to property, we settled (to avoid further problems, even though we knew we could have won), and have now been waiting for the return of Michael's paintball gun, which was confiscated for testing.
Never mind the fact that the investigating detective (who makes it very apparent that she is a Christian) sat in our living room and bold-faced lied to Dee that no charges would be filed (it was ultimately up to her how far the whole debacle progressed). Never mind the fact that we ended up paying $280.00 for a broken windshield that wasn't broken and for which we had no legal responsibility. Never mind the fact that they took Michael's rifle to test it (proving in the process that it was incapable of causing the alleged damage). But we want it back!
Dee has already called the court liaison, who assured her that he would contact the detective (and to call him back if we didn't hear from her). We waited over two weeks, then I called him yesterday. he told me to call the Sheriff's Department. I did -- they told me I would have to talk to the detective, but she was in a class. I left a message on her voicemail, with both our home number AND my work number. No contact. My next step is to call her today repeatedly until I get a response. Failing that, I may just email the County Sheriff himself.
This is just ludicrous. I told Dee that if a citizen had kept "government property" (I put that in quotes because in my philosophy, government, as an entity and not an individual, is logically, morally, and physically incapable of property ownership, but that's a different and long diatribe) in this manner, they'd be locked up.
To put it more simply, imagine checking a book out of your local library, then keeping it for four months. Sure, try that sometime, and see if you don't get hit with massive fines, and court summons!

Anyway, I'll keep everything updated as events unfold. We value your prayers!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hmm...! Posted by Picasa

Friday Eve!

It's Friday Eve! Isn't that a nicer way to think of Thursday?

Thursday is classically my slow day, metabolically. From birth (as I understand, because my memory obviously isn't that far-reaching), I have not been one to relish staying still long enough to sleep. The daily end result is falling into a deep sleep within scant minutes after laying down, usually around 11:30 PM. The weekly end result is that by Thursday, I'm running as close to slow-motion as I ever get.

Not to discount Thursday as a "day the Lord has made", mind you. I just struggle with the "rejoice and be glad in it" part the most at this time each week.

Last night, Pastor Tilly finished the study he's been doing on Wednesday nights on "Living the Life God Rewards" . He laid down a challenge that should have been so apparent, but I've overlooked somehow: we should be living for the "Well done, good and faithful servant" commendation from Christ. If we face every situation and every decision of every day, with that in mind, it will revolutionize our lives. It's a remarkable concept that bears incorporating into my daily life.

Speaking of which, we received word yesterday that the management of Gresham Place, where we hold Sunday afternoon church services every other week, received two complaints about some fliers we distributed last week. They were pretty basic, a PowerPoint slide with the questions, "Do religious people go to Heaven? Which religion is the right one? How religious do I have to be?", with an invitation to join us (my message was titled "Religious But Lost", about the rich young ruler in Luke 18). The flier contained contact information for the church, and that was about it. Mama (Dee's mother) posted a copy on the recreation room door, and a copy to each resident's door.
It seems that two of the Roman Catholic residents complained to the management, claiming that they were offended. We've had a couple of residents who were formerly Roman Catholic accept Christ during our ministry there, and immediately thereafter, two women from a local RC church started giving communion there, and telling people that they would go to Hell if they came to our services! We haven't heard much from them since, but apparently, the influence lingers. My first reaction was indignation, but quickly faded to rejoicing; we wouldn't encounter resistance if we weren't making inroads into the enemy's territory!
Will we stop distributing fliers? Yes, out of respect for the management there, who are giving us the courtesy of ministering there (I'm still amazed that the "offended" residents didn't contact us directly). Will this otherwise affect our ministry there? Yes - it's encouraged me that we're doing the right thing!! Hallelujah!

Along the lines of doing the right thing, Dee and I are considering putting at least Michael, and possibly Ashley into a local government school this year. Ideally, it will give them easier transition into college/military service, but it will also give them a broader exposure to what they are facing.
Even two months ago, I wouldn't have entertained the notion of taking them out of home school, but they are both getting such a heart for the lost, that it's difficult to deny them the opportunity to reach out to circles of influence they wouldn't otherwise have. Please pray with us for wisdom as we consider this (Colossians 1:9-14); we need to make a decision fairly quickly.

One other item: we're watching Irene; we'll keep you posted!

God bless, and we'll "talk" soon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Here We Go!

For about two years, I've struggled with the urge to join in on the blogging trend. I say struggled, because part of me has successfully resisted the impulse. I haven't quite put my finger on the exact reason (although I must confess that I haven't invested much time in the endeavor!).

So why now? That's a topic for another post; actually, it was to be my first post, but I irretrievably lost it before I posted it. There's fifteen minutes I'll never have back. {Sigh} Much to learn....

Will this blog be worth the time anyone takes with it? That, dear readers, is the proverbial 64,000-dollar question! My prayer is that it will, somehow fulfill that seemingly insurmountable goal!