Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The best book review I've read in a while

This book review was given on a book titled Triple Your Reading Speed on Amazon.com

Unce, Tice, Fee Times the reading speed., May 23, 2001
Reviewer:"mr_bits" (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
I finds that speed reading is more about them numbers than the words. There are lotsa them claiming to make reading speedier in different kindsa ways. Some says to helps you read quicker in 7 days,or 6-steps, or 10 minute. I says that's confusing to me. Some books say they will hep you read faster, but since there aint no miles per hour for reading its hard to finds a way to decide on. I almosed got a book on readin twice as fast, then i studied up on the innernet a bit and I finds this one. Why would you buys a book on reading 2 times as faster when theres a 3 time as faster book? I will say this is a perty book to look at. Got a real nice feeling cover with a good smell to it. It's got lots of big words. I likes to sit around and sound them out on the Lord's day. From reading it I bet that that Wade Cutler is a real nice guy because he made book to hep the people. I say I never been much on learnin and fancy talk but I reckon it aint Christian of me not to pass the good word on bout this here book. Got me reading bout 7 or more pages per an hour and I used to read only 2 so I figure that now i'm reading aproxmitly much faster than before.

now, you just have to decide if this review was helpful or not?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Circumcised Heart

This morning my Scripture reading from was from Deuteronomy, chapters 8-13. My time in the Word has been a little dry lately. As you can see, I have come to the end of the books of the Law. I read my Bible when I wake up in the morning, and sometimes, it is hard for me to read Numbers and translate it into a sin-destroying, joy-giving experience. But, this morning I was challenged and encouraged by Moses' words to Israel as they are waiting to invade Canaan. I have sat down now to reflect on my day, and how my reading this morning has impacted it. In doing so, I have read again that passage that challenged me to circumcise my heart this day. I felt compelled to share it with you here.



Circumcise Your Heart
(Deuteronomy 10:12-22; ESV)

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.



Thursday, August 10, 2006

Billy Graham in Newsweek

Yesterday, I received my new Newsweek magazine. It contains an exclusive interview with Billy Graham, who is now living out his final years in his long-time North Carolina home. I was going to write a post about this interview, but others have already done it better than I could. So, I will just direct you to Tim Brister's blog. At the end of his blog, he provides links to others who have written on this article. If we take anything from this interview with Billy Graham, it should be the reality that we as believers should not only be in prayer for our brethren to make it through each day, but we should also pray that they finish well. Billy Graham is not an isolated case of someone who held high the particulars of the Christian faith but in the end wavered on those issues. It is actually quite common, or at the least, it is more common than it should be. Let us continually lift up our leaders, whom we respect and admire, and pray that they do not make light of the faith that got them where they are.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Can Believers Be Bible Scholars? A Strange Debate in the Academy

The title above is taken from an article written by Dr. Al Mohler. I stumbled across it today and wanted to call it to the attention of anyone who might stumble across my blog. It addresses a prevelant issue which is taking place in the academic world. Dr. Mohler offers an excellent response to the attack leveled at Christian scholarship by Michael V. Fox, professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Please read the article here; as it is an encouragement to anyone seeking to be taken as a serious scholar in the midst of a secular academic society.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Time for Religion?

I have recently started receiving a subscription to Time and Newsweek magazine. I signed up for something online and received a special rate. I was excited about this, since lately I have been feeling bad about not being "up to speed" on current events. I tried to read my local newspaper, but the writing was just too poor. So, I thought I would share some thoughts from the July 17 issue of Time. Now that you have the background info, On to the post!




The first article is an interview with Katharine Jefferts Schori who is the Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. What will be the direction of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.? Let's hear what she has to say:

Interview

10 Questions For Katharine Jefferts Schori
By JEFF CHU



Rough waters aren't new to Katharine Jefferts Schori, 52, a former oceanographer who is the Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. Bishop Katharine, as she's known, takes over a denomination rocked by controversy at home and abroad for its liberal stance on gay clergy. She talked with TIME's Jeff Chu about her mission of social justice, the relationship between science and religion and whether faith in Jesus is the only path to heaven.

What will be your focus as head of the U.S. church?

Our focus needs to be on feeding people who go to bed hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tuberculosis and malaria, on sustainable development. That ought to be the primary focus.

The issue of gay bishops has been so divisive. The diocese of Newark, N.J., has named a gay man as one of its candidates for bishop. Is now the time to elect another gay bishop?

Dioceses, when they are faithful, call the person who is best suited to lead them. I believe every diocese does the best job it's capable of in discerning who it is calling to leadership.

Many Anglicans in the developing world say such choices in the U.S. church have hurt their work.

That's been important for the church here to hear. We've heard in ways we hadn't heard before the problematic nature of our decisions. Especially in places where Christians are functioning in the face of Islamic culture and mores, evangelism is a real challenge. [But] these decisions were made because we believe that's where the Gospel has been calling us. The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has come to a reasonable conclusion and consensus that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of this church and that our ministry to and with gay and lesbian Christians should be part of the fullness of our life.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who leads the Anglican Communion, wrote recently that a two-tier Communion may be a solution. What did you read in his message?

The pieces that I saw as most important had to do with the complexity of the situation and the length of time that this process will continue. He's very clear that we're not going to see an instant solution. He's also clear about his role: it is to call people to conversation, not to intervene in diocesan or provincial life--which some people have been asking for.

There's much debate about whether science and religion can comfortably coexist. You're a scientist and a pastor. What do you think?

Oh, they absolutely can. In the Middle Ages, theology was called the queen of the sciences. It asks a set of questions about human existence, about why we're here and how we should be in relationship with our neighbors and with the divine. And science, in this more traditional understanding, is about looking at creation and trying to understand how it functions.

What is your view on intelligent design?

I firmly believe that evolution ought to be taught in the schools as the best witness of what modern science has taught us. To try to read the Bible literalistically about such issues disinvites us from using the best of recent scholarship.

Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?

We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.

Pastoral work can be all-consuming. How do you relax?

I run regularly. I like to hike, and I take one long backpacking trip a year. Flying is also a focusing activity. I come from a family of pilots, and it's always been part of my experience. It takes one's full attention, and that's restful in an odd kind of way. It takes your mind away from other concerns, not unlike meditation.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Chapter 61 of Isaiah is an icon for me of what Christian work should be about. That's what Jesus reads in his first public act. In Luke, he walks into the synagogue and reads from Isaiah. It talks about a vision of the reign of God where those who are mourning are comforted, where the hungry are fed, where the poor hear good news.

What is your prayer for the church today?

That we remember the centrality of our mission is to love each other. That means caring for our neighbors. And it does not mean bickering about fine points of doctrine.

(this article originally appeared in the July, 17 2006 issue of Time on pg. 6. The electronic format appears here. The colors of the original electronic article were changed by me to represent the hardcopy version and to make the interview easier to read.)




Some thoughts:
Obviously, nothing contained in this interview is a secret. The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. has made its stance on homosexuality widely publicized, or at least the media has done it for them. This raises a few thoughts from my meager mind.

(1) Doesn't it defeat the process of obtaining an objective opinion if the people involved are already of that opinion? They are asking homosexual clergy if they think it is "Biblical" (wow, I have never used that term so loosely!) to have homosexual clergy. This is like asking conservatives if it is right to be conservative, liberals if it is right to be liberal, etc. It actually has greater implications for the institution as a whole; thereby, making it more like congressmen voting on their own salary. If noone of differing opinion has a say in it and the parties involved stand only to gain, then there is no room left for objectivity or even synthesis of views. One side always wins when only one side is involved. Of course, I am speaking all of this strictly in philosophical terms; since, in view of Scripture and the gospel, there is an entire church and all of its influents that are currently losing.

(2)What is the purpose of having religion without theology? Seriously, I don't get it. I know it is common, and there are millions who practice it. Why have the social gospel? Why not just take care of people and not worry about the religious practice? I know it is because they believe that they are carrying out the gospel; therefore, they are earning their way to heaven. But, Bishop Katharine, in her interview, doesn't just condemn conservative teaching; she undermines theology as a whole. Loving each other - that is all there is to it. Fine points of doctrine? Who needs it, it does more harm than good. If this is your belief, you shouldn't be involved in a profession based on doctrine. If I believed that hypnosis was false, I would not become a hypnotist (perhaps that's why I'm not one now). You cannot build the building after you destroy its foundation. I know that I am over-simplifying the argument, but this situation annoys me. When will the post-moderns, existentialists, and liberals realize that you cannot just pick and choose your hermeneutic from one day to the next. If you rationalize out that the texts in Scripture which forbid homosexuality and advocate orthodoxy are cultural and not relevent for today, then you effectively, at the same time, disqualify the texts that say it is the Christian mission to love one another, feed the poor, clothe the orphans, etc.

In conclusion, I would like to be the first to admit that I know I have not represtented the liberal's cause very well in this post. I am sure that they could rip my arguments apart. I have first-hand experience in that, provided by a college philosophy professor whom I still respect very much. At the same time, I still hold to what I have said in my previous comments on the interview. This interview only serves as a snapshot of what is going on in our culture today. One hundred years ago the attack was coming on the text itself, whether Biblical or any other printed page. Today, it is coming on the people involved. I believe that this shows just how far into depravity the world has come. Around the turn of the 20th century, the best liberals could hope for was a willing university to publish a controversial book. This in turn would cause a small disturbance in intellectual communities, which would be stifled from public view by the influence of Christianity, or at least conservatives. This is not the case today. It is the conservative Christian view that is stifled, and if we are not ready to do something about it orthodox Christianity will only exist in our Christian sub-culture. Then, it will be us with the revolutionaries trying to sneak our book out into the mainstream market, only to be crushed by the liberal media, government, and population. May God raise up a group who will not let Christian influence die in our generation.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Religious Zeal

Today I have been reading about zeal. It is something that is foreign to me at this point in my life. I have not been what I would call zealous for some time. Right now, I am on my break from working at the Horn, and I came home to look for a book. I didn't find it (I think I left it in El Salvador a Few years ago), but I did stumble across a book I read a long time ago: Practical Religion by J.C. Ryle. I remembered that he had a great chapter on zeal, and I would like to share a portion of it with you here. I hope that God uses it to spur your heart onward with greater fervor for the glory of God.



Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature, - which the Spirit puts in the heart of every believer when he is converted, - but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called "zealous" men.

This desire is so strong, when it really reigns in a man, that it impels him to make any sacrifice, - to go through any trouble, - to deny himself to any amount, - to suffer, to work, to labour, to toil, - to spend himself and be spent, and even to die, - if only he can please God and honour Christ.

A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies, - whether he has health, or whether he has sickness, - whether he is rich, or whether he is poor, - whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence, - whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish, - whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise, - whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame, - for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it, - he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which Bod appointed him. Such an one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannont preach, and work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray. Yes: if he is only a pauper, on aperpetual bed of sickness, he will make the wheels of sin around him drive heavily, by continually interceding against it. If he cannon fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill. (Exod. xvii. 9-13) If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of "zeal" in religion.




(Ryle, John Charles. Practical Religion. Banner of Truth, 1998. Pages 184-185)

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Four Weeks To Move, Eight Weeks To Change

*disclaimer: This post will start out as a venting of my soul and possibly end up as a negative rant towards myself. You've been warned.

In four weeks I will be moving everything that I own to my future residence in KY. I will also be moving my fiancee's belongings to the same place. We are not getting married though until June 29... eight weeks. We will still be living in Mobile for another month after we move our stuff up to Louisville. Since before we have been engaged, I've had visions of grandeur for our marriage. My wife-to-be is a relatively new believer, so I dreamed of how I would dedicate myself to our spiritual growth and well-being. We would have Bible studies and pray together constantly. We would share a passion for the glory of God and execute that passion on a daily basis. Perhaps it would manifest itself in outbursts of spontaneous praise while shopping for groceries...

All of that was two years ago and at best it has been hit or miss on my end. I have been a poor picture of discipline and struggled to even keep my original hopes in view. I have not followed through on my original intentions, always chanting to myself, I'll change tommorrow. Yet, now here I sit with my moving truck rented, an apartment lease signed, and my calendar open... eight weeks left to make good on my word to myself.

I think I am writing this for two reasons: First, to vent what's been weighing heavily on my heart for some time. Secondly, because I think there are other christian men who are engaged/married who may be going through the same thing or who are at least handling being a godly fiancee/husband better than I am. Any advice/comments/words of wisdom that you have to give me is appreciated.

To sum up, I feel a lot of pressure in the next eight weeks. It has nothing to do with the change from being bachelor to married. It has nothing to do with getting "cold feet." It is simply the pressure of wanting my life to change before I wake up next to my wife. I want to be in the habit of spiritual disciplines, walking with confidence; not stumbling like a newborn deer. Right now I am not even standing long enough to stumble back down.

Again, this was not meant to be a depressing post, just me sharing my struggles with you. Perhaps, you could pray for me or with me. After all, God is sovereign and he does have the power to keep his children from stumbling (Jude 24-25).

Exercise that power in me Lord. Amen.