Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Should I Change This Theme?

I have a theme that is a few years old and is starting to cause problems, but only on the admin side, as far as widgets and creating posts. Since I know CSS, I can take a theme and heavily modify it, as I did with the current theme. Because of that, I’m very attached to it. It has the colors and readability that I (and hopefully you) like, and works how I want it to, other than threaded comments. Not that I have a lot of comments.

I could do a child theme, which keeps the main part of the theme intact, so that I can upgrade the theme, but keep the look, unlike the current theme, thus causing problems from being old.

Just let me know.

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Miscellaneous Stuff

I predict that this blog will drop out of the top ten of The Biblioblog Top 50 list. I’ve been posting less and my Alexa rating is very slowly going down for the first time since July. No problem. I’ve in a been in a bit of a blogging slump but also trying to spend less time on the internet and more time reading. Plus there are a lot of finer blogs than mine to come and fill in the spot.

The Greek is going well but I forgot to review verbs for a while. That set me back while I went back and reviewed them for a few days. If you’re learning Greek on your own don’t forget the verbs.

I plan on reading the NLT Mosaic devotional starting on Nov. 29 with Advent. Is anyone with me?

I plan on reading through the OT next year (using the NLT 24/7 Chronological Bible). Is anyone with me?

I just got done reading Polishing God’s Monuments which is about suffering. It’s very good even if a little unbalanced in writing style and sometimes a bit cheesy like when an author says, “Friends…” I don’t know why that sounds weird. I’m not really his friend. A brother in Christ certainly.

Speaking of friends I’m on Facebook now and am able to keep up with some of my blogging friends.

Did you hear Sarah Palin wrote a book? Wow!!! Let’s dissect every sentence in the book and assign a motive to it. Those who love her and think she is the greatest thing since politics can talk about how great she is. Those who hate her and are afraid of her or who have SPS (Sarah Palin Syndrome) can talk about how fake and malicious she is. Can one of the antichrists be female? I suppose the egalitarians will have to say yes and the complementarians no. Or would that be the other way around… Let’s scour her book and the Bible and then use whatever bits we can to make our point!

Speaking of taking things out of context–I was wondering if the Bible didn’t have verse numbers would there be less sentences taken out of context. Maybe people would pay attention to the surrounding text better. But then I realized how the media takes things out of context all the time and really, all of us do to certain degrees when we want to defend a position or idea. So I guess it wouldn’t really matter. Never mind.

Book Review – The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation

book-nivac-revelationThe NIV Application Commentary: Revelation by Craig Keener

I liked this commentary so much I thought I’d write a mini-review with some information about Craig Keener and type out some of the quotes I liked.

Craig Keener is someone who has an extraordinary passion for the Bible and a very high view of Scripture and God’s sovereignty. He’s an excellent exegete influenced by Gordon Fee and nearly as objective in his interpretation.

He’s also lived in dangerous urban environments where his life has been threatened and he knows what it is to be persecuted, as much as can be in the U.S. and he writes briefly about some of these experiences as they relate to the book of Revelation.

If you’d like to learn more about him you can read Fridays with Craig Keener at Word and Spirit, a series of eight interviews (in reverse order here).

Here is a brief video where Craig S. Keener tells the story behind the NIVAC Revelation commentary. He writes about this in the preface of the commentary.

My exposure to Revelation has been reading through it a few times, participating in a group Bible study on it which I have almost no recollection of and reading about bits of it here and there in various books. I wanted a commentary that was substantial, but not a large technical tome such as Aune or Beale. The only other NIVAC commentary I have is the one on Luke and I was a little disappointed in it as a commentary. It’s a great book on the life and teachings of Jesus, but many questions weren’t addressed. So I was reluctant to try another one but this didn’t disappoint at all. It seemed to be tailor made for someone like me.

In the commentary portion Keener addresses nearly all of the text of Revelation succinctly but fully. I never felt that there was a portion that was glossed over without addressing it.

In the Bridging Contexts sections he often writes about common gross misinterpretations, interpretations throughout history and how the passage relates to other parts of Scripture among other things which is extremely helpful.

Some may think it difficult to write about how the whole book of Revelation is relevant to us today but Keener does this with ease in the Contemporary Significance sections.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

The necessity of remaining faithful until the end (Revelation 2:26) fits historic Calvinist and Arminian belief: The former argue that those who fall away were never converted, whereas the latter argue that they have lost their salvation–but both concur that they will not be saved. Verses such and this one and countless others, however, may prove uncomfortable to those who think that merely praying a prayer without truly persevering in Christian faith is adequate for salvation.

One [also] wonders how Luther, Calvin, Wesley, or others would feel about some who in their name privilege theological traditions above firsthand study of Scripture itself.

…not a single text supports addressing the devil as if he were omnipresent, during prayer. [On spiritual warfare, rebuking the devil etc. Revelation 12:7-9]

More quotes to come in future posts.

Buy it from:

Surgery Update

I had surgery a week ago. The surgery went well. Recovery has been very slow but any progress is good. It’s been painful but the pain med has been working well enough to make it tolerable for the most part. It makes me foggy and I haven’t been able to read anything that requires a great deal of concentration, but I’ve been reading a book on my Cowon D2 Personal Media Player (best Birthday and Christmas money purchase I’ve ever made) and using it for Scripture memory review and watching some YouTube videos. I started reducing the dose a few days ago so I will be less foggy as time goes on.

Still too early to tell exactly how much the surgery helped but I have at least 80% less pain down my leg already and I can bend backwards a little without pain for the first time in years.

Since I still can’t spend much time sitting here and I don’t have a notebook computer, I don’t think I’ll be posting much for another week or so. I could post some questions but I can’t sit and read the answers.

I haven’t been able to comment on other blogs but am starting to catch up with reading them.

On top of everything I’m getting a cold today which is extremely bad timing. But all in all it’s going well and I want to thank you for praying.

I will post a surgery diary on my other blog at some point but it’s all on paper right now so I have to type it out at some point.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Praising Others

Unlike most men I know, Jesus also loved to praise other people. When he worked a miracle, he often deflected credit back on the recipient: ‘Your faith has healed you.’ He called Nathanael ‘a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’ Of John the Baptist, he said there was none great born of women. Volatile Peter he renamed ‘the Rock.’ When a cringing woman offered him an extravagant act of devotion, Jesus defended her against critics and said the story of her generosity would be told forever.

–Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew

Praising others is not one of my strengths. I’m praying that this year during the Christmas season while spending more time with others that God will give me the grace, and that I will be obedient, in loving others in this way.

I pray that those reading this blog will have a nice time celebrating the birth of Jesus and spending time with others.

That those without family will find fellowship with others.

That those who are estranged, alone or suffering would find comfort in and fellowship with our Lord.

Musings on a painful day

I’ve mentioned my back problem(s) to some people and thought I’d give an update and just write some ramblings.

I got my first steroid injection into the area of the herniated disk. They told me the anesthetic would hurt a little which is no big deal and I’m not abnormally afraid of needles. What they didn’t tell me is how much the fluid going in would press on the nerve root. Wow. That was more back pain than I’ve ever had in my back and radiating down. My pain tolerance has always been pretty high and I’ve grown accustomed to it but this was kind of a shock. Even in my Zen conscious relaxation mode I still involuntarily jumped which the doctor told me to try not to do. Well maybe he should have told me this might happen!

Before the procedure I was reading a blog post on my personal media player about John 3:16. I was thinking about how the HCSB correctly renders it, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” But we know God loved/loves the world so much, so how about Scripture for that? While I was in the recovery room I was reading Ephesians 1-2 and came across 2:4: “But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us,”. What a great passage of Scripture to read at a time like that.

I don’t normally write about what I got in the mail to review because I just write about it when I review it, but I got Great Prayers of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann from Presbyterian Publishing which is the first book I requested from them. That was a nice thing to see while still being in pain. I’m very glad to start a relationship with them. I should have a review in January. I’m still very anxious to read A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson which deals with Paul’s prayers. It will be good to start with the OT prayers.

Time to get off this office chair.

Tweet Creed Meme

I was tagged by David Ker on his Lingamish blog for this meme. As much as I don’t like memes, this one is at least pertinent to this blog.

Here is what’s required:

Can you write a meme in less than 140 characters, the equivalent of a Twitter ‘tweet,’ that results in a statement that every Christian could confess?

If someone sincerely confessed this creed you would:

  1. Consider them to be a brother or sister in Christ.
  2. Believe that they are true believers and inheritors of eternal life.

Here is mine:

God Most High, planned before creating all, His wisdom-Christ crucified. He chose us, believe Him, receive His Spirit, 3 in 1, we’re heirs.

Very awkward but I wanted to include the important stuff and had to remove many of the little words that would help it make more sense.

In studying 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:2 I was wondering if this is creedal in some way so I included the wisdom of Christ crucified part.

As is customary here, I will provide Scripture to back up what is said which is always a good exercise for me and essential for making any doctrinal or creedal statements.

Psalm 47:2; Acts 2:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:4, Romans 5:8; John 5:24; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5; John 17:22; Matthew 28:19; John 1:12, Romans 8:16-17

I do not want to inflict any specific persons by tagging them but if you would like to participate please do and let us know. It’s a good exercise. Be sure to see Lingamish’s post to look at others.

This reminds me, I’d like to do some Christian Haiku at some point.

Birthdays

For most of my adult life I’ve hated it when my birthday comes around. Suffering from mental health ailments which also have physical effects have made life difficult. In addition, my back has developed degenerative conditions over the last few years. I’ve had to give up quite a few things, many of which are various forms of exercise I’ve been so serious about since middle school years. (I still do what little exercise I can.)

There are a few reasons I don’t like my birthdays, the main one being that I (used to) wish I hadn’t been born. Life is too difficult and this world is fraught with evil and suffering. I seem to see the world through darkly colored glasses.

Last year at this time I was starting to feel “the dread” because I always get more depressed as it gets closer.

At that time I was going through 2 Corinthians and was looking closely at 4:17 which I’m familiar with in the NIV:

2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

But looking at the verse in other translations gave me a fresh perspective:

2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

2 Corinthians 4:17 NRSV
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure,

If I were to say that the glory in heaven will be 900 trillion tons and our suffering here, as bad as it can be (and I know mine is much less than many), is like one tenth of a gram, that wouldn’t show enough of a difference because that isn’t “beyond all measure.”

So last year God was teaching me to hope for heaven—when we are clothed with our heavenly bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53-54) and dwell in the new heaven and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13)—and have faith that when that time comes around, it will have been more than worth it and I will be very glad that I was born so that I could be with God forever seeing Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

It doesn’t make this life much easier but I need to ask God to give me the grace to have faith that it will be as He says it will be (2 Corinthians 1:20-22) and experience the hope for heaven in this life.

This year God is teaching me that it is His will for me to have been born and to live for Him. In the past, I knew it was His will for me to stay alive. Not to be morbid but what I mean is not to kill myself. That isn’t for me to decide, as much as I wanted to at some points in the past. But now, more than that, He’s teaching me that it’s His will for me to have been born in the first place (Psalm 139:16). And it is His will for me to be born again (John 1:13).

I’ve come to embrace this with joy, even if I don’t usually feel happy. And I’m certain that without suffering God wouldn’t have matured me spiritually as He has so far.

I’m taking a big risk in writing this personal information. Spurgeon and Luther were candid so why shouldn’t I be? I’m certain many of my blogging friends are or were in a place of similar or greater suffering. Some aren’t able to disclose for many reasons.

I’m not writing this for sympathy because I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to grow more than most and as worldly things have fallen away, my zeal for God and getting to know Him through Scripture has increased exponentially.

God works through suffering and I thought I’d write briefly about it here. It’s definitely a subject of interest for me. (I almost wrote that it’s one of my favorite subjects. That’s not quite the right way of putting it!)

I don’t like “Happy Birthdays” but if you’d like to give me a present (other than a book of course*) nothing would be better than praying that God would continue to teach me about Himself (Ephesians 1:17) and to find more and more joy in this (Romans 15:13).

My prayer for anyone reading this post:

Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.

All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

I hope this post isn’t too self-centered. I’d like to read it a year from now and thought it might be of benefit to someone else out there.

*I usually hate asking for things but it seems customary for bibliobloggers to make shameless requests for material goods when their birthday comes around, or whenever they feel greedy. (I eschew smilies.) So I thought I’d throw that in there. But really, prayer would bless me the most and be the best present I could get. And don’t feel like you need to comment. E-mail me with any prayer requests you have.

New Stuff Here and There

I started a second blog called Scripture Zealot’s Other Blog. I’m using this instead of the ditzy twitter to keep track of what I’m doing as far as studying and other related things that don’t quite fit here. I purposely put it on the WordPress site instead of creating a second blog on my own here so that I wouldn’t be tempted to endlessly tweak it.

I’m slowly adding items to the Scripture Zealot Wiki.

I have added another page on this blog of Puritan Prayers. I used to dislike written out prayers but these changed my mind. I go through one at least once a week and never get tired of them. I formatted them for printing and thought I would provide them here. (I haven’t bought the Valley of Vision book yet.)

In going through Greek for the Rest of Us I was kind of overwhelmed with all the grammar—both English and Greek—so I decided to take notes. This way I can study 10 pages of notes instead of paging through the book. They are provided in PDF format here. These notes are tailored to me and don’t include the alphabet, information on translations, phrasing, word studies, how to read a commentary and many of the grammar examples.

If you are considering going through the book, this shows you part of what is covered. However, keep in mind the other information not in the notes is just as valuable as the Greek.

Big Sin Meme

See the original post here.

“If you were to be taken out by one sin (or a couple, whatever) what would it be?” Apparently this can be past tense.

I would say mine would be general apathy towards the unsaved.

When I first became a believer, I told just about all of the non-Christians I knew and was flat out rejected by every single one of them. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but I couldn’t understand how anyone would reject this. I believed in God to some degree all my life. This was also a source of pride in some ways.

I let this shut me up for quite some time. I’m more able to talk to others about it now but I can’t say I have a strong desire to evangelize. I’m also not as prepared as I should be should the situation come up.

I was going to post something on the lighter side also, but I think that would take away from the seriousness of this subject and don’t want to tempt people to comment on the lighter side as a deflection.

1 Peter 3:13-15
Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (NLT)

Repost – Facetious Christian Book Titles

Here are some facetious but Biblically accurate* book titles I was thinking of. Do you think they would sell?

  • The Sermon on the Mount: How To Lose Your Self Esteem
  • Your Best Life Then – How God Uses Weakness and Suffering To Achieve Your Spiritual Potential
  • Be Prepared: Things Can Always Get Worse
  • How God Ordains Evil

Just plain facetious:

  • How To Start a Coffeeshop In Your Church

Do you have any to add?

* Inevitably, some will quibble with this.

One Year Blog Anniversary

It’s hard to believe this blog is one year old.

A little over a year ago I was wondering if I wanted to take the time and if it would be worth the time to post on a blog. I wanted to write down what I was learning to further cement those things into my brain and to post quotes and links to have a repository for them. (I often find myself searching my own blog for these things.) I also hoped that eventually others would comment so that I could learn from them.

For quite a while I felt like I was talking to myself but the first two objectives were being fulfilled.

At one time I was wondering if I should be posting anything about what I’m learning in case I was leading anyone astray because of my own ignorance.

As time went on I got in with a circle of blogging friends and feel that the third objective is being fulfilled. Thank you for taking the time to comment or just reading.

I thought I would list some of my favorite posts.

And now a word from our sponsors

Please excuse this off-topic advertisement.

One way you can support these biblioblogs and support each other is by buying the books we buy from Amazon through another site’s gateway. The right sidebar of this blog has an Amazon.com search form. If you search for any book and go to Amazon’s site and order any book thereafter, the site/blog owner will get a tiny commission with no difference in price to the buyer.

I have to admit that I’ve completely overlooked doing this when I buy books from Amazon. (You can’t buy books through your own link and get a commission.) So whether it’s this blog or your (other) favorite blog, help them out by buying your books through someone who has a gateway. Or if you’re really well off and want to make someone’s day, buy a book from their wish list if they have one, especially for us lower middle class folks or those who are pastors, teachers etc.

Some people like Nick even have an Amazon store.

I don’t mean to try to take away from CBD, Westminster and others. They need the business too.

Thank you for your support.

I hope to put up more resources in addition to the Heidelberg Confession in the future.

Saying or Praying “God Willing”

I would like to repost something I wrote a while ago. Then at the bottom is a link to a post called 7 Reasons to Say ‘God Willing…’ from another blog which complements this very well. Hat Tip to Challies.com.

———

Praying God’s Will

Someone was once saying that a preacher on the radio was saying that we shouldn’t be saying, “If it’s Your will” when we pray because we’re not having confidence in what we’re praying, or something to that effect.

I said that it’s Scriptural to say that because of a couple of passages/verses:

James 4:13-15
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” TNIV

1 John 5:14
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. TNIV

However I’ve rethought my reasoning. The James passage isn’t talking about prayer, it’s talking about plans, predicting the future etc. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” So while I think it’s Scriptural to say, “I’ll be doing … God willing”, the James passage doesn’t support saying, “If it’s Your will” when praying.

The 1 John passage is talking about God answering according to His will, not necessarily how we should pray. Matthew 21:22 says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” But this needs to be balanced with 1 John 5:14 as mentioned above.

So when is it appropriate to say, “If it’s Your will?” I’m not trying to teach here. I’m just writing what my thinking is at the moment. Please feel free to comment.

If we are praying something that we know is Scriptural, it would almost be disrespectful to to add the if. For example–praying for growth in knowledge, wisdom (James 1:5-8) etc. If we are praying for miraculous healing, a certain material item etc. it may be respectful and reverent to say if it’s Your will. Some would say that shows a lack of confidence. I’m not sure if we could judge right or wrong either way.

As far as asking for something we know might or might not be in His will, it’s fine to ask and to be persistent as the parables of the woman in front of the judge and the man knocking on his neighbor’s door asking for food for a guest. If we should know the answer is no, then should we stop asking.

Paul pleaded with God three times for the thorn in his side to be taken away. God gave him a definitive answer, ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”‘ (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We don’t always know what to pray and the Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26-27). Thomas Schreiner in his commentary on Romans says that since the totality of God’s will is hidden from us, the Spirit fills this lack by interceding for us. The Spirit searches our hearts which long for God’s will, searches even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) and intercedes for us according to God’s will with groans that our words can’t express.

I think it’s very important when praying for someone to always pray for things that you know are in God’s will according to Scripture along with any requests they may have or things you think they should have that may or may not be a part of God’s plan. For example if you pray only for healing and that isn’t a part of God’s plan, you’re not really doing them any good. But if you pray for comfort, perseverance, hope, strength etc. along with healing, you know you will be participating in glorifying God in their situation whatever the outcome.

———

7 Reasons to Say ‘God Willing…’

Another Silly Meme

“Roger Mugs” started this particular meme that will make me post off-topic drivel on my blog.

I’ve been tagged by Bryon. He’s the one who for some reason insists on spelling his name wrong. Thou caluminous rough-hewn bugbear! Be sure to check out his blog.

There are three unimaginative questions I need to answer which follow.

Q1. If you were to be in ministry 10 years from now (whether you’re in ministry now or not) what would you like to be doing and where?

I’m a follower not a leader. If I were to do something cerebral I would like to do research, fact checking or the like for someone who is smarter than me, like some sort of scholar. I could learn from what I do and labor behind the scenes.

Although I hesitate to mention it, intercessory prayer is an ongoing ministry if it would fall into that category and will be more so in ten years, God willing.

Otherwise I’ve always had an affection for street people. When in college I used to spend quite a bit of time with them. I felt more comfortable with them than with “normal” people, most of whom aren’t as normal as they present themselves to be.

Q2. If you could wake up tomorrow with a degree and all the learning that would have gone with it from any seminary which one would you pick and why?

Westminster Theological Seminary or Southern Baptist Theological Seminary although I don’t know a whole lot about them book learnin’ places. I’m an autodidact.

Q3. What’s your poison: donuts, beer, wine, pizza, chocolate, Twinkies, key-lime pie?

I roast my own coffee and am able to buy some of the best beans in the world. It’s great to drink a beverage that has more flavor components than wine and it only costs a few cents a serving. I worship God when drinking coffee because of my amazement at the multitude of flavors He put in the various coffees that can be tasted if roasted well, is fresh and isn’t burnt like Starbucks. Ironically because of a low tolerance for caffeine I can’t drink very much.

I don’t consider that poison though.

1 Timothy 4:4
For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

Although you could argue that God didn’t create Twinkies.

I tag Michael, Shaun Tabatt and of course John MacArthur (again) who is my model curmudgeon who can denigrate three groups of people within the first quarter of a sermon in one fell swoop.