Showing posts from January, 2009

Michelangelo's Romans 9

It is Thursday, so there is not a lot I can write without simply posting the manuscript for my sermon. On Monday I plan to post a portion of it, but not all of it. I would covet your prayers as I finalize things this weekend. For today, let me offer something strangely odd that came to my mind as I studied Romans 9. Most will not see the parallel, but if you really study it, you will see the irony of the situation. My favorite painting is the Creation of Adam scene by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. I could not help but think of this painting as I studied Romans 9. I acknowledge that it is a long way around the world to connect the dots in my mind sometimes, but trust me there is a beautiful irony in this picture and how it corresponds to Romans 9. I will use the illustration of this picture as the hinge on which I hang my sermon on Sunday. At the very least it will help for you (if you will be with us on Sunday or hear the sermon online) to spend some time with this marvelous wo

????Questions????? Studying Romans 9

The Book of Romans is a book full of questions. Not only does it generate a multitude of questions but the manuscript moves along on questions. Paul has a protagonist that shows up from time to time questioning Paul’s argument for justification by faith. There are many theories as to the identity of Paul’s protagonist. I fall with those who believe Paul’s questions are spawned from the multitude of debates he has engaged in throughout his travels. Some say his protagonists are strictly Jewish. I am not sure that is the case. Those are “questions” reserved for another day. In Romans 9 the protagonist enters the arena yet again. Paul entertains his questions. Here is my take on the “spirit” of the questions: V. 6 - If Israel is not saved have the promises of God failed? (this is an assumed question) V. 14 – Is God unjust by extending mercy to some but not to others? V. 19 – If God shows mercy to some and hardens others regardless of human effort or choice, how can he possibly assign

gods Gone Wild, the Context of Romans 9

As a nation we have a sacred right to vote. Based on the merit of a man, his thorough convincing that he is fit to be our leader, we elect a President. This is not so with God. Paul speaks of God’s election of us. This does not fit the American psyche well, thus Romans 9 often becomes a dark spot in an otherwise hopeful book about God’s rescue of the soul in Jesus. What if Romans 9 were read in a different context? What if it were read in the context where the elective freedom of God is not up for debate, but is a given? Would this seemingly dark chapter take on a different light? Might we find chapter 9 to be about something far different than the subjects of sovereignty and free will we love to debate? What if you lived in a culture in which the gods had literally gone wild? If one can wade through Homer with some sense of understanding one can see the seedbed from which Roman theology is born. The Romans were the vehicle for all things Greek to spread. This cultural tide is calle

Oh the Humanity, Romans 9:1-3

There are certain circumstances in life that remind us as humans of how small and helpless we really are. As incredible as it is to be human we understand the reality that there are powers that exist that are far greater than our own; powers that are beyond our ability to control them. Weather is a prime example. Weather describes the ability of naturally occurring elements to give you a sunburn at the beach, a brisk day at the park, or to destroy everything within a hundred square miles. Oddly enough it is during these moments of disaster that we seem to feel most human. When Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast there was a fascination with the awesome power of nature, but in the wake of disaster the news coverage changed from wind speed to a theme of “what will become of us?” By “us” I mean the humans, those of “us” who struggled for survival, whose homes were destroyed, whose lives hung in the balance. Through television sets in isolated corners we watched “them” but somehow there

Get a Grip on Change: Video

Here is the video that I used today in my sermon on "change." Enjoy and be blown away all at the same time. FYI - when things are linked from YouTube there will be previews to other videos following the posted video. These previews will be different every time you watch the video. I DO NOT HAVE CONTROL OVER THOSE PREVIEWS!

Between Two Worlds: Abortion and Obama's First Few Days

As supportive as one tries to be following inauguration it has not taken long for President Obama to implement his unmistakably liberal social agenda. His first few days full of executive orders have proven the fears of many, that government will become an elite power in our lives. Yet if anyone took the time to educate themselves past charisma, none of this is surprising. Between Two Worlds: Abortion and Obama's First Few Days Posted using ShareThis

Brush Strokes - A Call for Contextual Reading

When I read Scripture I like to read it in large chunks. If there is such a thing (and until this moment there is not) I am a “contextualist.” By “contextualist” I find more meaning in Scripture by reading large portions than I do concentrating on single verses. I like to identify themes and thought flow. Single verses are like brushstrokes on a canvas. They are critical and beautiful, but it is in the context of the whole picture they find meaning. A few months ago the museum of art here in Birmingham displayed some penciled sketches from Leonardo Da Vinci. I am a less than a novice student of art having only awakened to my own personal Renaissance about five years ago, but my own impression with the few selections I saw was that Da Vinci was more than an artist; he was a designer, a scientist, a mathematician who had the ability to reproduce life on paper with precision. As we entered the gallery we were given a magnifying glass with which we could examine each drawing so closely t

Reading Romans

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to up the ante on my blog by writing more frequently. Thus far I hope my readers have recognized that I am doing a little better. If you have not checked in for awhile due to my usual schedule of bi-frequent posting then you may want to scroll down a bit. My goal is to write at least daily Monday through Thursday. That may not happen simply due to the fact that I am a husband/father/pastor/student guy. Yet, when I grow up I would like to be a writer. This does not mean I do not want to be a pastor, but it does mean that I would like to offer the world something in hardback. I am not sure what sort of thing I would like to write, which is a huge problem according to C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis recommended that writers find an area of concentration and write within that area. In blogging I have seen the wisdom of this advice because it is so difficult to come daily with something off the cuff to post. Thus, I make this offering hopefully for the benefit

Inauguration Day

I write this entry as I watch the intermittent live streaming broadcast of Barak Obama’s inauguration on my laptop. Ironically my Bible reading today was I Samuel 11 – 15, I backed up one chapter for context. It is the story of the inauguration and collapse of King Saul. I try to read five chapters a day. If I had tried to calculate this moment months ago it would not have been able to plan my reading so perfectly to fit such a historic day. What are some principles to keep in mind this inauguration day? 1) Pray – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Prayer supersedes political parties. There is no doubt that America is post-Christian. This truth was eloquently stated by President Obama just a few moments ago, but it has been a predominant ideologica

I Wonder What Jerry Joe Would Say?

When you look back on the Sunday School experience during your something-teen years most of it is a blur. As far as the actual teaching lessons go, those are not even in the blur category, they are flat out gone. You know they had some merit in your life because you were shaped by their themes, faithfulness, salvation, discipline, purity, and somehow everything came full circle to Jesus. A quarter of lessons from Exodus - all about Jesus. Why you need to be quiet and let the teacher teach - because you were about to experience the wrath of Jesus. Teenage boys get the Jesus threat often. I am not quite sure how they fit chronologically into my Sunday School history, but I remember certain teachers. I remember Clayton Eaker somewhere around Junior High. He was the picture of quiet strength and humility. Clayton was a perfect choice to help guide emerging men through a very awkward stage of life. At some point in High School I had a teacher named Bobby Brown (not the fallen rapp

Getting a Grip on Time – notes and audio links (as well as some thoughts about the irony of my week)

The irony of this post is that it is a link to a sermon on time I will preach tomorrow (1/18/2009) that is made necessary because I ran out of time. So here are the notes that I did not have TIME to print for everyone this week. On the week of my life in which I was to preach a sermon on time I had a collision with truth, that you have little to no control over time. The collision with truth was called seminary. I spent six days this week in New Orleans taking a New Testament class. Usually when I go to New Orleans I rent a single hotel room that I escape to post lecture and accomplish great things for the glory of God. Those things would include sermon preparation, sermon planning, and digesting the remains of some really tasty blackened something that I ingested previously in the evening. I had the week all planned out – and so did Dr. Gerald Stevens . Little did I know that this would be one of the most intense research weeks of my life. Each day we were given a topic to research

Once Saved Always Saved, Fact or Fiction? notes and audio links

Last night (1/7/09) I gave a presentation on the doctrine of eternal security entitled “Once Saved Always Saved, Fact or Fiction?" It was a bit lengthy and included a lot of notes. Several people have asked me to post the material online. Below are the relevant links to the presentation including links to the confessions and statements of faith cited. Audio Powerpoint notes in PDF format New Hampshire Confession 1833 Abstract of Principles The Baptist Faith and Message , comparisons of 1925, 1963, and 2000 versions Calvinism - TULIP Arminianism - Five Articles of Remonstrance

Some Afghan women say death by fire is their only choice

Here is a sad but hopeful story about the suffering of Afghan women under the rule of the Taliban. It was originally posted by at this link: . It is amazing to me the politically correct "cover up" that is taking place in our country aimed to shelter people from the logical conclusions of Islamic culture. Where is the feminist outcry for Islamic women? There is a marked hypocrisy that political correctness cannot escape. Exploiting, misrepresenting, and maligning Christianity is "free game" in our media and pop culture. At times the whole thing has a very anti-Al Jazeera feel to it. _______________________ by James PalmerReligion News Service HERAT, Afghanistan -- Simagol Yousefi was only 20 when her husband, Abdul, traveled to Iran to find work, leaving her and their two young sons in the care of her in-laws. Yousefi said it soon became clear she and her children were not welcome by Abdul's p

Bitter Root

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17) The dark cloud is here. You feel it. I feel it. We all knew the New Year would inaugurate uncertainty. Welcome to 2009. In the midst of the pressure the initial reaction of the soul is not to bend but to snap. People snap. In a moment of time whether it be for a momentary illusion of comfort, in a futile attempt to relieve panic, or the fruit of something that has been festering for years; in times like these one can make a horrible decision