Archive for October, 2007

Jesus… is not the Messiah?

For quite some time, John Hagee has been one of the larger supporters of Israel. He is one of the most outspoken supporters in the evangelical community in America having founded an organization called Christians United for Israel. Earlier this month Hagee’s new book was released called In Defense of Israel. In this book, Hagee attempts to show how the Christian community needs to do more than just pray for Israel. John Hagee’s adoration of the nation of Israel has led him to write a book that can be seen as being antichrist. In his blind love of a nation that is apostate, he has made claims that Jesus was not the Messiah and that the Jews cannot be held accountable for denying Him.

Is this what happens when one takes Dispensational Theology to it’s logical conclusion? He sees a clear distinction between the Church and Israel which has lead to him making these claims.


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Reformation Study Bible $15.17

For one day only, Ligonier Ministries will be selling their Reformation Study Bible in the ESV translation for only $15.17 to commemorate the Reformation. The sale will be on Wednesday. October 31. You can call the toll free number or order online.

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What to use for writing in your Bible

Writing in your Bible is something that many people do but few do it judiciously. Many people only mark their Bible according to what they hear from the weekly sermon and after a while they underline or highlight everything making the actual process of marking your Bible pointless. There are many people that do not make any additional marks in their Bible and some even consider it heresy. I believe that if done properly marking in your Bible can be a very useful way to better understand the Word of God.

Wide margin Bibles were made for just such a purpose. They have a wider margin than most Bibles and are usually printed on thicker paper to avoid any bleed through when using pens or highlighters. Even though you don’t have a wide margin Bible you can still underline and make small notes in whatever Bible you own.

So now that you want to write in your Bible, what to use? First I will tell you what not to use. Do not use hi-liters. Aside from looking ugly they are usually too fluid and bleed through to the other side of the page that may make it a bit distracting. After a while the pages look like one big fluorescent stain. The ink in most cases is not of archival quality thus over time the ink will degrade the paper. Dry mark highlighters are nothing more than colored pencils. I do not recommend the use of pencils as they can fade or smudge but more than that, they also damage the paper. Bible paper is thin and if you use a pencil or a even a ball point or roller ball pen you will dent the sheet you are writing on as well as a few pages below. If you have used pens or pencils in the past you will be able to feel the words on the back side of the page you wrote on.

No pencils, no pens, no highlighters… ‘den what? Archival quality pens. These pens are a type of technical pen used by engineers or draftspersons. They are cheaper and more durable than most technical pens and can be found at most art stores as well as large office supply stores. They have a long metal tip with a soft writing nib which is ideal for using with a ruler. The soft nib also helps prevent damaging the paper or denting the pages you are writing on. You have to press really hard to make the sort of indentations you can easily make using a pen or a pencil.

The biggest reason for using an archival quality pen is the ink, or rather the pigment. These pens use pigment ink rather than dye ink. Pigment ink is chemically stable, its pH is neutral, it is non-acidic and non-alkaline so it will not cause the paper to degrade over time. The pigment molecule is also larger than the dye molecule. It will outlast dye ink under extreme sun exposure… not that any of you will leave your Bible open for days at a time the next time you visit the Sahara but at least your notes will not fade. The larger pigment molecule is not just less susceptible to degradation it also helps in preventing bleeding or spreading which is a plus when you consider the thickness of most Bible paper. The pigment stays on the surface of the paper more than dye inks. The stability of the solvent used for the ink will prevent it from bleeding even if you wet the paper, it dries instantly so it is nearly impossible to smudge.

There are three brands of archival quality pens. Staedtler Pigment Liner, Prismacolor Fine Line Marker and Sakura’s Pigma Micron. All are high quality pens available with different sized writing nibs with the Prismacolor and Sakura available in different colors as well. With most publishers using lower and lower quality Bible paper using these pens will help in keeping your notes and markings looking neat. With the thicker paper used in wide margin Bibles I use the 05 size for underlining and the 005 for writing my notes. On thinner paper I wouldn’t suggest using the 05 or anything thicker as it may be too visible from the other side. Stick to using the thinner nibs like an 03. You can also use one color to underline and another to write your notes or you can come up with you own system. I use these with my ESV Deluxe Heirloom Reference Bible which was printed on 27lbs. paper. The 05 is slightly visible from the other side where as my notes using the 005 are barely noticeable.

These pens will be useful for those looking for an alternative to highlighters, pens or pencils. They will help in keeping your markings looking neat and are a great way to help you in your studies of the Word.

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ESV Bibles. Great Bible, Good Buy

If you are not familiar with the relatively new Bible translation being published by Crossway, the English Standard Version (ESV), I highly recommend that you consider using it. The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that holds to the literary qualities of the King James Version from 1611 while being nearly as accurate as the NASB, which is often knocked for sounding “wooden”. Although a very literal translation the NASB at times suffers form sentence structure that doesn’t flow well. The ESV, while being a literal translation like the NASB, is easier to read and retains the poetic qualities found in the KJV. The ESV is also more literal than the NIV while being just as easy to read.

If you are considering the ESV, take a look at the bookstore at Monergism.com. Their online bookstore has recently been updated and they have added to their lineup of ESV Bibles. Of note are the calfskin Bibles. Although expensive, calfskin Bibles from Crossway are some of the nicer Bibles you can buy. Not only are these premium leather Bibles nice to look at they are very well made and will outlast less expensive ones. The key with these calfskin Bibles is not only the super nice covers but the fact that they are have smyht sewn bindings which will allow these books to lay flat on a table or fit your hand like a glove while you sit in during Sunday morning service.

Monergism is currently offering the Classic Reference in black calfskin and cordovan calfskin as well as the Classic Thinline also in black calfskin and cordovan calfskin. These prices are the best you’re gonna find, even better than Amazon. Currently they are offering free shipping ’til Reformation Day… that’s October 31st for the non-Reformed.

I own the Classic Thinline in cordovan calfskin and I highly recommend it. Look for a full review at a later date.

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How often do you hear of a Christian using the word Heretic? Hopefully, not often and if it is used, hopefully it is being used properly and not being thrown around unnecessarily. Dropping an H-Bomb can at times be more hurtful to the bomber than the one being bombed. I began to think about the use of the word and how I’ve heard (or read) its use in the past. Too often though, it is used improperly and out of context, this may me due to the fact that in the past heretics were burned at the stake but not any more. Maybe we need to re-introduce this practice but also apply that if the person accused of heresy is not found to be one then the accuser should be treated as a false witness and given the same punishment. I think this will stem the tide of the word being thrown around so much.

On Sunday, October 14, 60 Minutes ran a piece on Joel Osteen, the personable pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston who is on national television espousing his brand of the Wealth and Prosperity gospel. He is not a big showman with gaudy suits and lots on jewelry. He is very charming, good looking and has a great smile but not once have I heard him say anything about sin, hell, repentance or heaven for that matter. His brand of “gospel” is for temporal benefits, sadly since he never mentions hell or mans sinfulness, he doesn’t preach that man needs to be saved from his transgressions. If I could ask Joel Osteen one question it would be, why then do we need Jesus? The reason I bring this up is because in the piece, Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Theological Seminary, California was also interviewed. He was asked what he thought of Joel Osteen, he replied by saying that he was a heretic. I am not expert on Joel Osteen, but I think that Dr. Horton is right in calling him a heretic.

There is much divisiveness in the Church these days where there should be unity. Many times there are issues that shouldn’t keep us apart, keeping us apart. Something even as trivial as what Bible translation one reads is enough to have one labeled a heretic. There are people who claim that the only true word of God is the King James Bible, the rest are merely perversions and those that read anything but the KJV are heretics. Before his passing, Dr. Jerry Falwell called those who hold to particular redemption, heretics. Chuck Smith, founding pastor of Calvary Chapel called Calvinists, blasphemous and even said that the teaching of the Doctrines of Grace are satanic. Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries, on his webcast The Dividing Line, rebutted the comments made by Pastor Chuck on his radio show. Dr. White begins the portion with Pastor Chuck about 15 minutes into the show. Even when I attempted to have a dialogue with Mr. Scott Berner over his YouTube videos regarding Calvinism, he merely resorted to name calling.

What is happening here? Why are we being so quick to denounce other Christians? I think my non-Calvinists brothers are still my brothers. I can, hopefully, by the grace of God take my non-Calvinists brothers to scripture and show them that they are wrong for believing what they do. What I can’t do is take them to scripture and show them that their belief is sinful and will take them to hell and if I were to tell them so without showing them, then I am in the wrong and in need of forgiveness for such an accusation.

I borrowed this following portion from The Assembling of The Church Blog.

In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter warns that false prophets and false teachers will bring “destructive heresies” with them. These false prophets and false teachers will not be known for disagreeing with other believers, but instead they will be known for “denying the Lord” (2 Pet 2:1), “sensuality” (2 Pet 2:2), “covetousness” (2 Pet 2:3). Thus, these false prophets and false teachers are not ones who simply disagree with other Christians, but those who deny that Christ is Lord, and live a life that demonstrates that they are not children of God.Perhaps, from this connection of “heresy” with false prophets and false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1, we should also recognize why these people are called “false prophets” and “false teachers”. Perhaps one of the most important passages to help us understand what it means to be a “false teacher” is 1 Timothy 1:3-11. Here, those who teach “other doctrines” are those who teach contrary to the gospel (1 Tim 1:11). In many other passages, the authors of Scripture encourage their readers to teach and live in accordance to the gospel of Jesus Christ – that is, the good news that God has provided a way for all people to accepted as his children.

So, according to Scripture, who are the true “heretics”? Heretics are those who deny the gospel of Jesus Christ. Heretics are also those who live in a manner contrary to the gospel – that is, according to the flesh, not according to the Spirit. Similarly, heretics are those who cause and encourage divisions and dissensions among the followers of Jesus Christ.

When Person A calls Person B a “heretic” for a teaching that Person A disagrees with, but which is not contrary to the gospel, and when Person A refuses to fellowship with Person B because of that teaching, then, according to Scripture, Person A is actually the “heretic”. Person A is the one causing division among the followers of Christ and is thus promoting true heresy.

So, let’s be careful, thoughtful, and prayerful before we drop the “H” Bomb. It could be that we are the true “heretics”, not necessarily because our opinion is “wrong”, but because our words and actions are divisive – and this is the type of heresy that Scripture warns us about

We need to think twice before dropping an H-Bomb on another Christian.

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The Monk I Wanted To Be

Thelonious Sphere Monk was born on October 10, 1917 in North Carolina. Moved to New York at the age of four, dropped out of high school after his sophomore year and not long after was part of a revolution in Jazz that changed all of music from that time forward. When I was younger I had a passing interest in learning to play the piano, especially so when I heard Thelonious Monk play. Those feelings of wanting to play the piano quickly subsided as soon as I listened to Monk play the piano.

For the uninitiated, Jazz isn’t just music to hear it is music to listen to. You can have Jazz music playing in the background at one of your “get togethers” or it can be playing at your favorite restaurant and if you hear it maybe you will associate your host or the restaurant as being cool, but Jazz has so much more. It has many layers. It is far more complex than any other form of music, it is a conversation. At times it’s a narrative, an exultation, a shout a rant, seven minutes of someone saying “I Love You” without ever saying that phrase. Monk was not a pianist that filled every space he could with music like McCoy Tyner whom played with John Coltrane, nor did he have the same lyricism as Herbie Hancock. Monk was on a different plane. He could almost bend time and space.

As soon as I listened to Monk play, I knew I could never play the piano.

You see, hearing is a passive activity but listening takes work. When I finally realized that Monk wasn’t just playing the piano, I knew I could never do what he does. When I listened to McCoy Tyner play, I knew I could never play the way he does because of how fast and how much music he plays, and Herbie played “too pretty”. What Monk was playing sounded easy. His phrases were simpler than either of the other two musicians… or so I thought. Then when I listened, truly listened, it hit me. The realization of what he was doing hit me like a shock to the system, I gasped with such strength the room was nearly emptied of oxygen. Monk implies missing notes. He doesn’t fill up the space with sound, he doesn’t write out the entire story, he leads you to a place where you finish the sound. Ahhh, the genius!

Jazz is clearly proof of the Triune God of the Bible. The improvisation of Jazz is not random, it stays within the frame of either the melody or the harmony and all the musicians may be playing totally different themes but they are all playing within the order of the structure, it’s not random. The passion, the genius, the knowledge it takes to play Jazz all points to God.

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Atlas Shrugged. 50 Years Later

The first time I had ever heard of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, I was in the fifth grade. I had overheard some teachers talking about it and I asked about it. More than anything I was struck by the title. The title grabbed my young intellect and never let go. By the time I had graduated from high school in 1990 I had a very short list of books I felt I needed to read. These were books I held in high regard because of what I saw as their difficulty and also their status among the literati.

Not long after high school, John Milton’s Paradise Lost was the first of these books I read. I was 24, doing work that involved a lot of driving. I would sometimes hang out in bookstores for my linch break. While on one of my visits to a bookstore I saw a hardback copy of Atlas Shrugged, though I didn’t have enough money with me to buy the hardback I did however get the paperback. It was over a thousand pages long but read it in a week. From the opening line I couldn’t stop from reading this book. I read it every chance I got, even while driving to Las Vegas for a wedding with a girl I was totally head over heels for… I still have the book. The girl, thats a story for another blog.

I was a new Christian at the time I read it, I wasn’t a proper student of the Bible at the time but the book didn’t change my life the way it had others. I still hold it in high regard, find it to be a very interesting book to read but by the grace of God I didn’t accept the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I never read another one of her books either fiction or non-fiction since. I found it unromantic and cold. I know the book wasn’t meant to be a romance novel but it was passionless. Even the long, long… long speech by the hero that must have gone for fifty pages was rather unromantic. It seriously was about fifty pages of the evils of socialism, communism, fascism, capitalism too… I think and extolled the greatness of self.

After all that, if you want to read a better book on philosophy then read David Hume or better yet Greg Bahnsen, if you want to read a book about a Utopian society then read Brave New World. I liked reading this book but it’s not a book for everyone, though I do think people should read it.

John Piper wrote a couple of different blogs about it. If you wont read Atlas Shrugged, maybe read his blog. Here and here.

Who is John Galt?

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