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Poor kid, Another Helpless Victim of NPD

I just read a real but tragic story of Brian Blackwell, 19-year old, straight-A student who is just yet another victim of NPD. NPD has caused him to lose both of his parents to a gruesome death which he witnessed and it has caused him to virtually lose any chance of living a normal life. The poor boy, Brian Blackwell, suffers from a disease called "Narcissistic Personality Disorder." According to the BBC News story (and a subsequent one here), this means that he "fantasised about unlimited success, power and brilliance." And just like all of us--none of us are God--these fantasies were not true. So there was only one possible solution to help him get a little bit closer to this "unlimited success, power, and brilliance" about which he fantasised: Credit Cards. But he's only a 19-year-old boy, how could he possibly qualify for that many credit cards? Our world is so non-understanding of those suffering from personality disorders. The credit card companies were too worried about debt-to-income ratios, credit scores, ability to pay, and things like that. So what is a victim of NPD to do? Fortunately he had parents (Sydney, 72 and Jacqueline, 61), and they had credit cards. But they were just as non-understanding as the credit card companies. So, in July of 2004 he stabbed them to death and applied for 13 credit cards in his dad's name. Things were finally going well, people believed he was a professional tennis player, he had all the money he needed, he was even staying in the Presidential Suite in the Plaza Hotel in New York...this was finally getting close to the life that every sufferer of narcissistic personality disorder (aka human nature) dreams of: fame, money, and comfort. Unfortunately in August, his neighbors began to wonder what the smell coming from his parents house was and called the police. When the bodies were found the police weren't very understanding of poor Brian and had him arrested. Fortunately the court was finally sympathetic to the personality disorder that had victimized him so long; they reduced the charges from murder to manslaughter. Speaking, I understand, of the boy, det chf insp Mike Keogh said, "We cannot begin to imagine the distress and pain that these terrible deaths have caused." Poor kid.

If this page looks wierd, sorry

I am currently trying to fix some formatting issues that I have had. So if you visit this page and see some issues with formatting or if something is ugly, it is probably because I am messing with it. Please be patient and check back in a few hours (hopefully minutes), but I'm having a difficult time figuring this out so we'll see. There are currently no formatting issues if you use Firefox as your browser.

Thanks for visiting.
 -Jacob

Rick Warren, PDL, & Blogging

The following is an open letter to Jason Janz, myself, and other bloggers in response to the harsh tones of criticisms of Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Life often levied among our side of the blogosphere. It was initiated as I read a post (not even about this topic) on SharperIron.org, an excellent blog.

Jason-
  I just read your post on advertising on SharperIron. I just wanted to say congratulations on your success. I am just getting started on my end (hantla.com/blog) and like it is for everyone (except Phil Johnson) the going is slow. I've sat back as a reading-but non-contributing fan of SharperIron for some time. When I read the post on your advertising aspirations, I came across a backhanded reference to Rick Warren ("Contrary to Rick Warren, I dont associate numerical success with the blessing of God."). I have fought many fights, trying to encourage pastors (particularly pastors in my own family) to not use his material and to show them the problems with it. I would be known in my family and those in my local body who have heard me chime in on the subject as "anti-Purpose-Driven-Life." I have mentioned that only to give you background as to where I'm coming from. My gut cheers when I hear the slights that he receives often in my favorite neighborhoods on the blogosphere, but I'm pretty sure that those cheers are not flowing from a true concern for the Gospel. I think my gut in these times is more flesh-powered than Spirit-powered. Although it isn't very well written, I would be interested in you reading a post that I wrote a couple weeks ago on the topic of discussing PDL and letting me know what you think.

After much thought and many replies to emails and comments that I received based on that original post, my concerns are primarily three-fold:

(read more...)

Abraham Piper's Excellent Blog

This morning I accidentally stumbled on Abraham Piper's blog, CISongs. It is a wonderfully refreshing site designed that contains nothing but lyrics to songs/poems that he has written. I'll definitely be returning often. Here's a sampling, entitled "Clinging to the Cross,"  that refreshed my soul greatly this morning:

I cling fast to the cross that drowned
my sin in bloodin Christs blood.
(And I) shout aloud with a grateful sound,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

If you are slipping, heres your solid ground
If youre in bondage, here youll be unbound
If you are lost, here you may be found
Clinging to the cross where your sins are drowned
In blood, in bloodin Christs blood!

(And we) shout aloud with a grateful sound,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

'The Ultimate and Final Question" by Lloyd-Jones

There can be no doubt whatsoever that all the troubles in the Church today, and most of the troubles in the world, are due to a departure from the authority of the Bible. And, alas, it was the Church herself that led in the so-called Higher Criticism that came from Germany just over a hundred years ago. Human philosophy took the place of revelation, man's opinions were exalted and Church leaders talked about 'the advance of knowledge and science', and 'the assured results' of such knowledge. The Bible then became a book just like any other book, out-of-date in certain respects, wrong in other respects, and so on. It was no longer a book on which you could rely implicitly.

(read more...)

Open Letter to A Doubting Christian: Am I Christian Only Because I'm American?

Doubter's Statement: As a Christian, I want to be sure that I am not deceiving myself and believing Christianity simply because I emotionally feel good about it or because my acculturation in America and within Christian circles does not allow me to see all perspectives. Also, once God gets me through this I will be better able to counsel those who are struggling with similar questions.

Response: It is necessary, before succumbing to the desire to jump in and begin addressing individual issues with which you are concerned, to discuss the nature of these doubts and the task which you are attempting to undertake. Many times I think that because the subject matter of a discussion have proven beneficial in many circumstances, we can often be too brash to quickly take part in discussion of those things without considering the end the undertaking. In this case I feel that the big picture must be viewed and brought clearly into focus before we even begin to discuss the individual.

I want to make it clear that I am not relegating the defense of our faith to an obscure, unecessary position. Peter makes it clear in 1 Peter 3:15 that all Christians should be prepared to give a defense of our hope--necessarily having thoroughly thought through the why's of the faith. The Greek "give a defense" or "give an answer" in verse 15 is a legal, court-room term referring a defense attorney rebutting charges against his client (Wuest's Word Studies). The way in which we do this is no small matter. Peter refers to a preparedness which certainly requires forethought and obviously preparation so that enemies of God may be put to shame: God's glory is at stake. Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:24-25 calls the Lord's servant to be able to teach with an ability to correct opponents with gentleness. This ability is necessary (a must) because God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth: Lives are at stake. So I realize the necessity of considering objections to the Gospel which include objections against, the existence of God, the veracity of the Bible, our interpretation of the Bible, the essence of truth, the basis for our faith, and many others. Yet, in the midst of those, the two commands of the Peter must remain preeminent: (1) "In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy" and (2) "Do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience." (read more...)

Keywords: Doubt,Christianity,faith

The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy

In 13 Short Chapters, Became One Of My All-Time Favorite Books

With only 83 pages and 13 chapters this book is pregnant with thought-provoking and soul-humbling truth that caused me often to just cry out as a beggar to God in awe, in love, in gratefulness, and in humble pleading for faith and grace.

Basically what Leahy does in this book is walk the reader through Christ's last hours on earth, His Passion. Dealing in 13 chapters with different aspects and scenes from those hours, the divinity of Christ and His humanness are both kept sharply in focus. The sin of mankind both for which Christ was dying and the sins of those who directly took part in His murder are not deminished, but neither is the fact that "It was the will of the Lord to crush him" that it was the Lord who "has put him to grief" (Isaiah 53:10).

I recommend that you read this book in a quiet place with little destraction with your Bible by your side. Read it one chapter at a time and then sit and re-read, and pray. Let the Spirit take you back to the foot of the cross where you gaze up at your only hope, the King of the universe hanging in misery, damnation, and ultimately victory. Look at the cross he bore and realize that with such a high price to secure our salvation, anything that we hope to add or to repay will only be an insult to His gift, diminishing its value and His glory. Let the Spirit take you to the foot of the cross where you realize who we are, we are all beggars.

Preaching the Hard Sayings of Jesus by Carrol

Some Good Exegesis; Some Poor Assumptions

My ultimate opinion on this book is that it is neither extremely helpful nor extremely harmful once the problems are acknowledged; then you can eat the meat and spit out the bones. When the authors stick to the text, they do a great job of exposing the words of Jesus. However, I have seen that the work is fraught with redactionistic assumptions (deciding Jesus did or didn't say something based on "additions" or "subtractions" from the story based on our interpretations of the author's biases). An excellent example of this is found in their exposition of Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:16-24 - The Parable of the Wedding Feast. Ultimately, rather than recognizing that Jesus could have told the same story differently on two occassions or that Luke could have left details out, the authors decide that since Matthew was written post-Jerusalem-destruction, the verses referring to the king sending troops to destroy and burn the city could not have been in Jesus' original words. So rather than actually dealing with the hard words of Jesus recorded in Matthew, they opt to talk solely about Luke.

I'm afraid that this sort of thing happens over and over again. So while I have found some helpful nuggets and some deep thinking to challenge my soul, I fear that liberal-leaning of their scholarship makes this text dangerous to use. Nevertheless, with this hermeneutic identified, I do feel that the book can be a useful addition to one's library when used with caution.

The Humanist by RC Sproul

The humanist exalts the dignity of man and the importance of various virtues while at the same time declaring that we are cosmic accidents. Slime has no virtue, and the humanist can give no compelling reason why any human being should have any rights because he has no justifying grounds for rights in the first place. He has only sentiment, which proves nothing except the emotional state of the avower.
R.C. Sproul
The Invisible Hand
p. 165

Keywords: humanism

Relativists by RC Sproul

Most relativists are only relatively relativists. That is, they want to express their own rights of preference and will tolerate other people's preferences--until they bump up against their own.
R.C. Sproul
The Invisible Hand
p. 164

Keywords: Relativism,post-modernism

Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice by Bradshaw

Helpful, But I Fear Credibility

By incorporating a wide array of extrabiblical evidence from shortly after the dispersion of Christianity to the nations, Bradshaw definitely provides a service to the reader on the various forms of "worship." He does a very good job at demonstrating how architecture can reveal purpose, belief, and practice. Also, by drawing from a wide variety of sources from a multitude of persuasions he does show effort at presenting as unbiased a presentation as possible. Bradshaw breaks the book up into three basic sections:
(1) Development of how Christians were initiated into the Church (quite a bit of work goes into analyzing forms of baptism on this point).
(2) The Eucharist or Lord's Supper.
(3) The daily and ceremonial disciplines/celebrations that united the Body.

The book is very accessible. The scholar may wish for some more detail and probably more thorough documentation. However for the lay reader who is interested in the subject, the format makes it a very easy read.

Unfortunately, at this point my compliments cease. I am not writing this review from a standpoint of one very knowledgeable of the archaeological evidence or one intimate in understanding of the primary sources, so I can not speak to his responsible use of those. I do, however, speak from the advantage of one who accepts the Bible (in its autographic form) as the final authority on matters of both history and faith, as both infallible and inerrant, and from this perspective, I am very disappointed in the book. Don't get me wrong. I trust the Bible because of both internal and external evidence to its credibility. But Bradshaw consistently questions Biblical record when they are not consistent with his extrabiblical findings, even if those extrabiblical findings rely on many assumptions and guesses. For example, a number of times he casts doubt on the reliability of Matthew 28:18-20 (The Great Commission) as being added to the text later when there is absolutely no textual evidence of this. According to the Metzger's Textual Commentary, there is no question among the textual critics that the rendering that we have for these verses is autographic. Yet, Bradshaw in true redaction form, flippantly, as if it were common knowledge that these were added, blows them off as not being acceptable as a true saying of Jesus. From this example and others with which I am familiar, I fear for the accuracy and trustworthiness of Bradshaw's conclusions. Therefore, I cannot recommend this book.

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by CJ Mahaney

That simple phrase is what all of us men need to hear: "Before you touch her body, touch her heart and mind." Cursorily using Song of Solomon as an illustration of true biblical covenant love, C.J. Mahaney has written one of the most useful books that I have ever read.

This book is written for men. Men need to step up and lead in romancing the marriage. Therefore Mahaney asks that men don't read this book with their wives. Great intimacy, including sex is something that every marriage should be full of. If that is missing, it is primarily the husband's issue that he needs to fix. Then in chapter 2 he moves on to give the biblical God-given purpose for marriage from Ephesians 5: "A profound mystery, revealed to all to see."

My favorite chapters then follow (3-6) in which Mahaney lets the readers draw from his life experiences, his successes and his failures, to help us with romancing our wives, touching their hearts and minds so that then touching their bodies is so much more intimate, frequent, and amazing. These chapters have been so useful to me. I'm not going to ruin it for you by giving you any of the advice here. But let me tell you that just taking advantage of the advice that he gives and the motivation that comes knowing that greater intimacy better glorifies God has already had a very noticeable impact in the two weeks since I finished my first reading of the book...so much so that my wife has told me whatever I read has changed me for the better.

Finally he ends in chapter 7 with a mild exposition of Song of Solomon 8:5-7, "Strong as Death, The Enduring Power of Covenant Love." Marital love goes beyond just sex, but sex is truly only as amazing as God designed it to be in the context of marriage. Marital love is forever, it isn't dependent on sexual ability; it isn't dependent on perfection; it isn't dependent on emotions. Marital love comes for God and is a reflection of God's love for the church.

Carolyn Mahaney, C.J.'s wife wrote the an appendix, "A Word to Wives" which I haven't read but have been told by my wife is very good. I too have noticed a difference in her since she has read that chapter and the book from which it comes "Feminine Appeal."

I strongly recommend you read this book. I am in the middle of reading it a second time and plan on reading it and putting to action its suggestions until the day I die.

Garmin Forerunner 301

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. The Garmin Forerunner 301 combines a GPS with a heartrate monitor. You can use it for running, walking, bike riding, working or whatever. This seems like a pedometer on steroids. It keeps track of your distance traveled, speed, heart rate, and calories burned. So basically, after going running, I can have a record downloaded via a USB port to my computer showing me how well I did. What really seems cool would be to track improvement over time and to challenge myself to go further faster with fewer rests. A major positive is that it claims to be water resistant which is a must for me because of the massive amounts of sweat that regular pour out of my body when I exercise.

But based on the customer reviews, it seems like I should maybe wait til the next implementation when they can work out the bugs of an inconsistent heartrate monitor and apparently an inaccurate GPS (That's wierd seeing as how it's from Garmin).

So if anybody is looking for a birthday present ;-) this might be it. Just kididng. If anybody wants to spend that kind of money on a birthday present, this would be much more appreciated.  I might be looking into getting of these in a future version.

Comments on Commenting on the Purpose Driven Life (PDL)

This post is sparked by another post by Phil Johnson at awesome up-and-coming blog, Pyromaniac...this one regarding The Purpose Driven Life. Phil has done an amazing job throughout his ministry with which I am familiar defending the gospel. It is obvious that he loves Christ and that comes out in his passion for doctrinal fidelity. Many readers, however, may fall into a category of loving "theology" without loving the God of which it speaks. And on the other side, many may read who do not even know the God of whom we are writing. In both cases, it is the duty of the Christian to bear testimony in word and in spirit to Christ our Savior.

 This particular entry was entitled, "Marginal Observations about PDL". I agree with the substance of every marginal note that Phil made and referenced in his original post; however, I think that we must be careful about how we present our distrust of the book. The fact is that many people respond to this book, and they have the seeds of the gospel sown (I know the gospel is not even really presented here, but nevertheless, after reading this book people may be interested in "God" or "spirituality") and they may then stumble upon this blog looking for someone to walk with them toward God.  It's our job to then point them to the cross and humbly walk with them (not tell them how to get there but walk with them) to the foot of the cross. I know that all of our concerns swirl around the the very issue of the cross (PDL simply doesn't present a great need for it because sin is minimized, the subject of the message is self and not God, repentance is non-existant, no substantive mention of justification or imputation, etc), but if one who was not "schooled in the ways of reformed blogging" stumbled onto this site after reading the book, I think that they would write us off as separatist lunatics or a jealous fringe and not as something attractive, definately not those who they would look to to offer them further guidance (again, please note, I am not speaking of the original blog post but to the rather harsh tone of the comments following). Then they'll end up going to a seeker-sensitive church that will give them nothing but a good feeling on their way to Hell. So I just want to encourage all of you and encourage myself as well in the midst of our blogging to consider the weaker brother. (read more...)

Keywords: Purpose,Driven,Life,blogging

Audio English Standard Version (ESV) by Max McLean

My favorite English version of the Bible, the ESV, is avaible as the Listener's Bible, to learn more about it. But I would recommend doing what I did and buying it from Amazon. At the time I purchase it and wrote this review, they are each listed for the same price $49.95, but you get Free Shipping from Amazon. Anyway, on to my review:

> Max McLean's voice takes a little while to get used to. I'll be honest, at first it kind of annoyed me. But to have my favorite Bible version in audio makes up for any personal issues I may have with the reader's voice. In fact, after getting used to some of his mannerisms, I appreciate the way that he reads. He reads slowly, which I have read some others complain about. But the way that he reads allows the listener to contemplate and think about what is being heard. In my opinion, the reader is very effective.

In case you might be wondering how you will use this product, let me tell you how I use them. I have put the mp3-format audio files on my iPod and use them for half of my read-through-the-Bible program. I never want to have my only regular exposure to the Bible in audio form and not in written form. So I am always reading/listening from different portions of the Bible at the same time. The way I have it set up, I will read through the Bible at least once in a year and listen through the Bible at least once in a year. I listen while I walk or jog in the morning. If that doesn't give me enough time it is very easy to listen in the car as well. I love listening aloud with my wife because it gives us the opportunity to be exposed to the same scripture at the same time.

These are just suggestions which I hope are helpful. Do it however you like. I do strongly recommend, nevertheless, that you make an audio Bible of whatever your version-of-choice is (I commend the ESV to you for many reason, contact me if you'd like guidance in this) a regular part of your Bible reading time. Inform your conscience with the Word. Why listen to the radio and inform your worldview from a worldly view. Let's fight hard to have God's perspective shown to us in His Word our perspective. The only way that I know to do that is to be prayfully and humbly exposed to massive amounts of Scripture. This is one tool to help you in that regard. I hope this helps.

Libronix Personal Book Builder Books FTP Site

The greatest Bible software in the world, Logos Bible Software, released a nifty little thing called the Libronix Personal Book Builder (PBB) last year. Basically with the book builder, owners of the software can port their own work or public domain works into the Libronix Digital Library System. When I had heard about the release of the book builder when it was still in pre-publication, I thought that surely it would result in an immediate rash of free Libronix books spreading like wildfire throughout cyberspace...no such luck. I was sure that with the wealth of public domain texts already organized formatted in html format at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library a few industrious souls would revolutionize the Libronix world. Nope. Pretty much, until now, the Logos newsgroups were the only centralized place to find the various PBB that are out there.

A few sites had collected their own works (Concordia Theological Seminary, John McComb's site, and others), but nothing centralized. Thomas Black has set up an ftp site (a little hard to access sometimes) that has a compilation of all the personal books he knows of so far. This is the closest thing that I know of that we have to a centralized repository of PBB books. Thanks, Tom.

Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem

NOTE: This review has been reposted with additional information at http://hantla.com/blog/pivot/entry.php?id=624

I had never really thought about it, but I guess--even though it is contrary to my longing and belief that God can be and is glorified through all of the Christian's life--that I had always just assumed that business wasn't good in and of itself. In fact like Grudem asserts of those who are like I was, we believe, "that from a moral perspective [profit, competition, money, and business are] 'neutral' at best." I guess that when I was pursuing a degree in engineering, I thought that I could glorify God through it by sharing the gospel at the work place, earning enough money to free my wife up to be a stay-at-home mom, and being able to give more money to the church. But Grudem's view is so much balanced and biblical than these views, exposing my blindness that would have kept me from obeying 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do (including business), do all for the glory of God." (On a side not to 1 Cor 10:31, read "How to Drink Orange Juice to the Glory of God," chapter 5 of John Piper's book, Pierced by the Word.)

The topics in which Grudem covers in this book, with a chapter devoted to each one are:
How God is glorified by...
1. Ownership
2. Productivity
3. Employment
4. Commercial Transactions
5. Profit
6. Money
7. Inequality of Possessions
8. Competition
9. Borrowing and Lending

and he then includes two chapters on
10. Attitudes of Heart
11. Effects on World Poverty.

Grudem is not blind to the abuses of business, the ways in which we idolize money and success and become gracious losing sight of the fact that we are operating with God's stuff not ours. He regularly comments throughout the book on concerns to balance the view, but the real wealth of attitude-changing information comes from not-often-talked-about fact that business can in-and-of-itself be glorifying to God. We don't have to feel "vaguely guilty" about business but can use it to both glorify God while we're doing it and advance the Kingdom through it.

My only complaint is the size of the book, and for that I wish I could give it four-and-a-half stars. The book is really small (83 pages of text) and oftentimes when it seems like he is just beginning to develop a thought or when a proposition could use a little more defense, he needs to move on to the next topic of discussion. However, he can be excused because he has let the reader know that he is working on a larger edition saying in the preface, "The Bible says much about these topics, and a thorough treatment deserves a much larger book than this, one that I am still in the process of writing."

In summary, if you are in business or are a student studying or considering studying business, read this book. It should have a profound and God-glorifying effect (if read as it is written and not taken as a license to idolize business or success and withhold God's grace from people) on your life, studies, and career.


Matthew 5:3-11 :: Do the Beatitudes Describe All Christians or Just a Select Few?

The Question

Are the beatitudes a description of all Christians or just a select few among the Christians? There are two questions underlying this question:

  1. What defines a Christian?
  2. To what degree must these qualities / characteristics / traits define a person before they are "blessed" in the Beatitude way?
(read more...)

Keywords: Beatitudes

Almost free Pampers Diapers, Buy diapers on Amazon.com get $30 back

Simply spend $79 or more on Pampers products offered by Amazon.com between June 1 and June 30, 2005, and they will e-mail you a promotional certificate for $30 between August 11 and August 25, 2005. This offer applies only to single orders of $79 or more consisting of products offered by Amazon.com. It does not apply to products sold on our site by third-party merchants or through third-party areas such as Amazon.com Marketplace, Auctions, or zShops.

The promotional certificate will contain a code good toward the purchase of products offered by Amazon.com. After receiving the promotional code by e-mail, you will have 30 days to apply it toward a purchase. Your promotional code will expire on September 26, 2005.

How to Qualify for Your $30 Promotional Certificate
  1. Browse for Pampers products by clicking here.
  2. Add items sold and shipped by Amazon.com to your Shopping Cart until the total amount before taxes, gift-wrap, shipping, and other promotions is $79 or more.
  3. Click the Proceed to checkout button and place your order.
  4. Important: All purchases must be made in a single order placed between June 1 and June 30, 2005.
  5. If you do not cancel your order or return items that qualified for the promotion, they will e-mail you a promotional code between August 11 and August 25, 2005, redeemable for $30 off your next purchase of products offered by Amazon.com. The promotional code will be sent to the e-mail address with which you placed the order.

Internet Sales Tax?

I'm not entirely sure if this is even do-able, but it looks like there is another push underway to tax interstate commerce on the internet (story here). Currently, I do not like to buy online from companies like Costco.com, Walmart, and other major companies with local branches of their business because they charge sales tax (in addition to shipping). Companies like Amazon.com can have only a few shipping facilities spaced throughout the country. According to my understanding, companies on the internet only have to charge sales tax in the state in which their "nexus of operations" is located. So I live in Arizona. I buy everything from Amazon, especially now that they have Amazon prime with free two-day shipping on any order. Because Amazon does not have a location here in Arizona, should they be forced to pay sales tax to Arizona? In which state did the sale occur anyway? I'm no legal whiz, so don't cite me on this, but the 1992 Supreme Court ruling Quill Corp v. North Dakota, it was decided that for a state with no physical operations within a state to collect sales tax for that state placed an unconstitutional tax burden on interstate commerce. They did caveat their ruling by saying that Congress is ultimately better qualified to resolve and has the power to resolve the problem of taxing interstate commerce. So who knows.

Please feel free to comment if you know more than I do about this whole business (It probably wouldn't take much). Just like the days of the early internet when everybody was willing to give you free stuff for signing up for accounts (Remember the dot-com boom when you could sign up for an account with each of your email addresses and get $15 off a $15 purchase. I loved those day)...so anyway, just like those days, if sales tax hits, we can look back and say, "It was good while it lasted."

On Phil Johnson's "Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism"

I just got finished reading Phil Johnson's new post, "Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism" on his new blog, PyroManiac...Right on! In just a few short paragraph's Phil distilled the recent polarizing trends on the web (possibly reflecting views in the real world, but who knows?) in a very convincing fashion. I was saved early in 2000; coming from a background where when I heard the term "Calvinist" I thought of separatist, harsh, unthinking, religious prudes. Then, within weeks after my conversion from fruitless and sin-indulgent religiosity to Christianity, I was exposed to the doctrines of grace at my first church East Valley Bible Church Gilbert. At first, I am very ashamed to say, I took my new-found knowledge and "shared" it with everyone...in all actuality my old pastor, Walter Crutchfield, probably characterized me best as Barney Fife with "Calvinism" as the one bullet in my gun: "I shouldn't have been trusted with it for fear of accidentally shooting myself or an innocent bystander." Somehow I was deceived by the unthinkable, that the fact that I had nothing to do with my salvation, that I was so dead in my trespasses as to be unable to even respond to a glorious message of salvation, and that even now in my sanctification I was powerless apart from the willing of God...that in the knowledge of all of that I became proud. At the discovery of the most humbling message around, I became boastful, proud, and arrogant, even harsh. I became to a degree the very characterization that I had applied to Calvinists. Thankfully, being exposed to the godly lives of my two mentors in the faith--Walter Crutchfield (who began to really temper me by giving me his very marked-up copy of Spurgeon v. Hypercalvinism) and Daryl Ridgely--the teaching of so many Godly men who thankfully did not characterize those traits, men like John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, John MacArthur, Tom Shrader and others, and now to the shepherding of my amazing elders my life was transformed. My Calvinism became humbling; no longer was it a systematic theology to be merely refined and debated. My understanding of the doctrines of grace as expressed in the Bible (not in tradition) help me understand my conversion--not it defines my conversion. It makes me sure that God loves me, loves me personally, not just mankind generally. It makes me gracious. It drives my sanctification. It fuels my understanding of the cross. It thrusts me to my knees. It leaves no room to "play church" or to "play Christianity." (read more...)

Keywords: calvinism

500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species

A review of two books, Marine Fishes by Scott Michael and Marine Invertebrates by Ronald Shimek: (read more...)

Keywords: Aquarium

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