Cereal Isn't Just for Breakfast

The guys over at Manspeak, a blog hosted by several men from Cornerstone Church in Knoxville, TN, have posted a great analysis of cereal entitled Cereal, Glorious Cereal (yes, you read that right). In addition to proclaiming the greatness of cereal, they also provide advice on the advanced art of mixing cereals (kids, please don't try this without adult supervision). Little did I realize that my love for cereal was shared by others to this degree... enjoy!


Live Like You Were Dying

This title from recent hit country song ties in well with a quote from the Puritan author and pastor Richard Baxter that Dr. Mohler read in chapel today. It goes something like this, "I preached as never sure to preach again, And as a dying man to dying men."

In closing today's message, Dr. Mohler reflected on his recent medical problems that almost killed him. He talked about how it made him realize that he took the act of preaching for granted and how he thought of himself as strong and healthy.

Having faced death, and witnessed God's grace in healing, he said that, like Baxter, every time he enters the pulpit from now on he will preach as never sure to preach again and as a dying man preaching to dying men.

What about the song title? It is based on the real life experience of the songwriter with his father who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although I wouldn't recommend living dangerously just because you have been given a death sentence by a doctor, I think this thought can be applied in the same way as the wise statement by Richard Baxter.

You see, just as Richard Baxter realized, and Dr. Mohler was powerfully reminded of, we are in fact all dying physically. There will come a day, if the Lord doesn't return first, when each of us will do a lot of things for the last time. We will preach our last sermon, witness to the lost for the last time, tell our families how much we love them for the last time, watch a sunrise and sunset for the last time, and the list goes on.

As I get older (36 and counting) I am becoming more aware of my mortality as each day passes by. In my relatively short life I have experienced the loss of many loved one's and friends who maybe didn't realize that particular day would be their last. I have lost a parent to death and experienced the other one battling cancer, so any thoughts of my own invincibility went out the window a long time ago.

So, I encourage you to live like you were dying in the sense as not to take any day or relationship for granted. If you are a believer, redeem the time and look at your service to the Lord in the same was as Richard Baxter or Al Mohler. Whatever you do, do it as you may never do it again and as a dying man serving dying men.


Choosing a Name

Ok, I guess choosing a name for my blog probably isn't the most news worthy or life-changing event of my life. However, it has proven to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. It was easy to come up with names, but every time I searched the blogosphere my choice was already taken.

So, in the spirit of Titus Two (previous name), and my second choice Communion of Saints (which was taken), I have settled on the name Together as the Body.


Modesty Survey

The Mahaney ladies over at Girl Talk posted information about a modesty survey Alex & Bret Harris have over at their Rebelution website. This survey is for Christian guys and the questions were taken from questions asked by young ladies at their site.

Their site and blog, based on rebelling against the common low expectations of youth & 1 Timothy 4:12, are primarily geared toward teens and has a lot of great information promoting a biblical worldview.

They have a forum where members can interact, as well as articles by a host of contemporary authors such as Jerry Bridges, Josh Harris, John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, Albert Mohler, & John Piper (not to mention not-so-contemporary authors like Richard Baxter, Charles Spurgeon, and J.C Ryle).

"I am so glad Alex and Brett are using their blog to proclaim a biblical worldview for teenagers... The Rebelution is one of the few blogs I can encourage my young teenage son to visit." – CJ Mahaney


Jonathan Edwards is my Homeboy

The "Jonathan Edwards is my Homeboy" t-shirt made popular by the Christianity Today magazine cover is now available HERE at the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University online store. All proceeds go to support the JE center at Yale, so order yours today!

Be sure to check out the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. Also, they have a companion blog that is worth checking out.

Finally, and most exciting, you can now access the entire works of Jonathan Edwards online... completely FREE!!! The works are editorially tagged and fully searchable by chronology, theme, and scripture, as well as full text.


Atheism vs. Christianity

Dr. Al Mohler writes about this in his latest blog commentary [READ HERE]. You can read the entire article for yourself, but I would like to provide a few excerpts if I may.

Steven Weinberg, Nobel laureate and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas, had these remarks in response to The God Delusion, a tract for atheism by fellow atheist Richard Dawkins. His comments serve as an indictment of 'Christians' in American society today:

"But although most Americans may be sure of the value of religion, as far as I can tell they are not very certain about the truth of what their own religion teaches."

"Most Christian groups have historically taught that there is no salvation without faith in Christ. If you are really sure that anyone without such faith is doomed to an eternity of Hell, then propagating that faith and suppressing disbelief would logically be the most important thing in the world – far more important than any merely secular virtues like religious toleration."

"Even though American atheists might have trouble winning elections, Americans are fairly tolerant of us unbelievers. My many good friends in Texas who are professed Christians do not even try to convert me. This might be taken as evidence that they don't really mind if I spend eternity in Hell, but I prefer to think (and Baptists and Presbyterians have admitted it to me) that they are not all that certain about Hell and Heaven. I have often heard the remark (once from an American priest) that it is not so important what one believes; the important thing is how we treat each other.... imagine trying to explain "not important what one believes" to Luther or Calvin or St Paul. Remarks like this show a massive retreat of Christianity from the ground it once occupied, a retreat that can be attributed to no new revelation, but only to a loss of certitude."
I provided the bulk of the comment here but visit Dr. Mohler's site for the entire text as well as Mohler's commentary. Mohler also has a previous entry on The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins at his site.


Because the Supreme Court Says So

John Piper, in his sermon entitled When is Abortion Racism? compares the challenges of overcoming the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade case to the Dred Scott case of 1857 where the court ruled that black slaves were property without rights as free persons.

That position is unthinkable today! I encourage you to read, watch, or listen to the message at the link above. Maybe things aren't okay just because the high court says so.

Mohler and Lessons Learned in Crisis

Dr. Albert Mohler has recently posted a commentary Lessons Learned in the Crisis of Life at his website. It is great to see him back at it, albeit slowly, since his medical crisis.


The Carnage of Abortion

"May the Lord give you courage to address the carnage. I find it appalling that there are pastors and churches that NEVER address this issue." - John Piper

A few links I found on John Piper's Desiring God website that will help us have a biblical view of the horrible thing known as abortion. Provides links to some good biblical as well as apologetic material. Here are a couple:

S.L.E.D Acronym
Exposing the Dark of Abortion by John Piper


Name Change

I will be changing the name of this blog because I learned that another blog exists with a similar name; the name of that blog is Titus2Talk. So, out of respect for its creator I will be changing names. Any ideas?

As far as blogging goes, it can consume valuable time if attention isn't given to the time spent writing and editing material. Therefore, I always try to be careful about the importance and relevance of the content.

Until next time!

We Are the Body

Continuing a theme from previous posts I wanted to express my ongoing concern on the state of the local church in 2007.

On a personal note, I am thankful that God led us to a church where all members are actively involved with the ministries of the church. But, most of all, they are involved & interested in the life of their fellow members. Their love to us has been a blessing during the past several months.

Having said that, I am amazed at the number of folks in most churches who are uninterested in this wonderful family life. It definitely leaves several questions unanswered. Is it that they have never been truly converted? Are they saved but in rebellion toward God? or, a question we can ask ourselves... Are the other family members treating them in such a way they have no desire to be around them (lack of love, gossip, etc.)?

I am interested in this subject so much because I truly want to see the family of God, globally and at the local church level, become as intended by God. I don't discuss it because it provides a lot of filler for my blog, but only because my heart is broken to see a healthy body of Christ based on Scripture.

I was listening to The Albert Mohler Program yesterday, with guest host Dr. Russell Moore, and he made a comment that has been echoing in my head since, "If there is love for the head (Christ), there will be love for the body." I pray that the Holy Spirit will show each of us anything we need to repent of in regards to the church and give us the grace to love & serve both the head and the body.


Stop Dating the Church

This book by Joshua Harris has been around for a couple of years and I have always been intrigued by its premise. From my own experiences I have witnessed professing Christians who seem to lack any excitement or dedication to the family to which they claim to belong.

Just as in dating, they seem to be more focused on the 'here and now' and what benefits are afforded to them by the relationship to the rest of the 'family'. Also, it is often characterized by a casual approach to involvement and concern for the life of the church. Much like a dating couple who go out occasionally and do not commit to the long-term health and overall well-being of the other party.

"Is your faith a solo pursuit? This book reminds us that this was never God's intention. The church is the place God grows us, encourages us, and uses us best. Stop Dating the Church is Joshua's third book on relationships, but it's unlike any of his previous books. Instead of finding biblical counsel on how to relate to the opposite sex, this book is about how you should relate to the family of God." - Description from Sovereign Grace bookstore.

I have not read the book yet but, again, find the analogy very accurate. I desire to see the family of God fully committed to the local family of believers to which they belong. Not out of duty or personal gain, but based on a sincere desire for involvement rooted in genuine love for God, His church, and fellow believers.


Part I - The Sovereignty of God

I mentioned that I was going to begin a series of brief posts introducing various theological topics. I thought the best place to begin was with the attributes of God. I believe it will be more beneficial & helpful to view other theological issues to be discussed later in light of a clearer biblical understanding of God.

The sovereignty of God simply refers to the fact that all things are under His rule and control, and that nothing happens in this Universe without His direction or permission. He is a God Who works, not just some things, but all things after the counsel of His own will (see Eph. 1:11). God's purpose is all- inclusive and is never thwarted (see Isa. 46:11). Nothing Takes Him by Surprise.

God is sovereign over the entire universe
God is sovereign over all of nature
God is sovereign over angels & Satan
God is sovereign over nations
God is sovereign over human beings
God is sovereign over animals
God is sovereign over "accidents"
God is sovereign over free acts of men
God is sovereign over sinful acts of men and Satan

A few key verses: Psalm 135:6; Proverbs 16:33; Job 12:23; Psalm 22:28; Psalm 139:16; Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 21:1; Philippians 2:13; Genesis 50:20; Acts 4:27.

Many volumes have been written on this subject, so this short post just scratches the surface. My only goal was to provide a VERY basic explanation along with biblical texts that clearly describe God's sovereignty. However, I would be happy to provide additional resources for anyone interested in learning more.


Believer's Baptism

Believer's Baptism from B&H has just been released and looks to be an excellent resource on this important subject. I flipped through it in the campus bookstore yesterday and am excited to pick up a copy when I can.

The book is edited by Dr. Thomas Schreiner and Dr. Shawn Wright, both professors here at Southern Seminary. They both also make excellent contributions to the text. (Dr. Schreiner was my NT prof last semester). Other contributors to this volume include: Dr. Andreas Köstenberger, Dr. Stephen Wellum (my Systematic Theology II prof for the upcoming semester), Dr. Mark Dever, and several other notable scholars.

According to the book description on Amazon.com, Believer's Baptism answers the following questions... Is believer's baptism the clear teaching of the New Testament Scriptures? What are the historical and theological challenges to believer's baptism? What are the practical applications for believer's baptism today? The description further states that the book "...begins with the belief that believer's baptism (as opposed to infant baptism or other faith proclaiming methods) is the clear teaching of the New Testament."

I encourage everyone to pick up a copy. I believe it will be an indispensable asset in providing a clear biblical understanding of believer's baptism. It's great to know the Bible teaches something, but it is even better to have a real understanding of what we believe as well as be able to "explain our answers" (as math teachers are prone to request) to anyone who asks.


Can't We All Just Get Along?

These infamous words spoken by Rodney King in the wake of the Los Angeles riots several years ago seem to have become the mantra in the popular Christian culture. In particular, many within mainstream Christianity make getting along, regardless of theological position, as a test for genuine love & faith.

Personally, I realize that we all won't agree on every little issue. I further realize and admit that differences on non-essential issues shouldn't keep us from working together to spread Gospel. However, I believe no where does Scripture tell us we must ignore the truths of the Bible in order to show love to our so-called "brothers and sisters" in Christ.

Case in point is a recent C3 2006 conference at Fellowship Church in Grapevine Texas (Southern Baptist), pastored by Ed Young, Jr. (whose father is a two-time former president of the SBC). It was at this conference that Mr. Young opened his pulpit up to Oneness Pentecostal leader Dr. T.D. Jakes from Dallas, TX.

Let me say that this should not be taken as an excuse to knock the SBC. Unfortunately, I have met too many people who believe the actions of any SBC church is indicative of the entire convention, so they are quick to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. This knee jerk reaction is because they do not realize that SBC churches are independent, autonomous churches. Now, back to the issue at hand....

For those that do not know, and think it's not worth being concerned about, Oneness Pentecostalism denies the Trinity. This position, historically called modalism, teaches that there is one God who appears to us in three forms (or "modes"), thereby existing in one form at a time instead of God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit existing as God in three persons and each person being fully God at all times.

There may be a lot of things we Christians disagree about, but denying the biblical teaching of the Trinity is not something I'm willing to overlook for the sake of getting along. My prayer is that we all will stand for the truth even when it is unpopular. We shouldn't look for a fight but we shouldn't ignore our biblical convictions in an effort to avoid one.


Playing it Safe with the Gospel

Following is one of those quotes that speaks for itself. It is by David Fairchild of Kaleo Church in San Diego (emphases mine):

"If we are to preach Christ crucified, we must also preach a Christ that opponents would see as worthy of crucifixion. It is a dangerous thing to speak and teach an unfelt cross. If Christ is to be rejected in our day, let it be for those things He was rejected for in His day, and not because we’re trying to pacify an already hyper-sensitive, politically-correct culture which cries for truth but openly rejects it.

Are we to spend our days on this earth passively trying to avoid sin rather than attempting great and glorious things for the One who is in the process of redeeming all things for His glory? Let’s not sit passively and live cautious, careful, nice lives. Let’s not speak of Christ as if we’re in a library or sipping tea in a parlor with well dressed grandmothers who desire to speak of pleasant things that go well with their decaffeinated citrus blends. If we play it safe, we may find that we have spent the best years of our life doing absolutely nothing of merit as we wait for our light to turn green so that we can escape this frightening world. Sure, you might be thought of as a "nice" guy, but don’t assume this has anything to do with being conformed into the image of Christ."


Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

I would like to recommend a very good book on the issue of God's sovereignty and how it relates to human suffering. The contributors to this book, all of whom have suffered some kind of suffering in their life, address different issues on this important subject.

According to the book, they address questions such as: In what ways is God sovereign over Satan's work? How can we be free and responsible if God ordains our choices? What is the ultimate reason suffering exists? How does suffering help advance the mission of the church? How does God's grace enter our sufferings? and several other needed considerations.

I have only read a few chapters so far and excerpts from others, but I would have to say this is one of the best books on this subject that I have seen. Contributors include John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Saint, and other notable Christian figures.

"When God Weeps" by Joni Eareckson Tada is still my favorite, but this one is helpful in its own right because it provides input from several unique perspectives and life-events. I would also recommend "Is God Really in Control?: Trusting God in a World of Hurt" by Jerry Bridges, and "The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?" by R.C. Sproul to get a well-rounded biblical handling of this subject. By the way, none of the books mentioned in this blog are academic or technical so they would be beneficial to even the non-bookworm.

I focus a lot on this important issue for two primary reasons. First, I believe that a majority of Christians do not have even a basic grasp of the biblical concepts involved; myself included until the recent past. Second, many folks we minister to at the local church level will experience events in their lives that will require us to provide a deeper biblical response to their suffering than simply offering a couple Bible verses. Is a better reason necessary to prompt us to delve deeper?

Does it mean we'll have all the answers? No. Does it mean that doubt and depression won't enter their lives? or ours in the face of suffering? No. But, it is vitally important to have a biblical view of this issue so that our faith will ultimately be strengthened and God glorified in seasons of suffering.


Slavery & Abortion

Some great quotes from Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"How can the ‘Dream’ survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate."

"Because I am a civil rights activist I have to fight for the rights of the unborn."
-Taken from Between Two Worlds blog by Justin Taylor

To add to these quotes, I thought I would add some awesome pictures from a 4D ultrasound... how anyone can even try to logically argue that this is not a "real person" is beyond me. May God grant them the grace to see the truth.


Google Maps as a Bible Atlas

Here is an awesome resource I just came across called BibleMap.org. It is a website that integrates Google Earth and the ESV or KJV text to create an interactive Bible atlas. Very cool!


Read the Bible Through This Year

Do you ever have trouble finding time to read the Bible daily? or, do you put it off altogether because of the busyness of life?

For the coming year I would like to recommend a daily Bible reading plan that even the busiest person in the world can follow. This plan will allow you to read the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. What's even more exciting is that you can receive your daily passages via a RSS feed.

I use Firefox for my browser so I just subscribe to the RSS feed I want and it is now easily available each day at the top of my browser (you can access multiple feeds, such as entries to this blog, this way by the way). All I have to do is click the feed I want, in this case the ESV One-Year Bible Reading Plan based on the M'Cheyne reading system from Crossway Bible & Good News Publishers, and it is all there ready to read... you can't get any easier than that!

To make it even easier they have provided an option which allows you to listen to each passage as read Max McLean. He is the creator of The ESV Listener's Bible (also available in KJV & NIV) and he reads it just like you would imagine it to sound. Michelle gave me the entire ESV Bible in mp3 for Christmas and I love it!!!

Either of these ways would be s super way to easily access Scripture while also being able to read through the entire Bible in a year. Although the passages are easy to access and relatively short, I would encourage you to still read carefully with great attention given to each passage.


10 Important Questions

In my previous post I provided a great prayer we should share as we begin the new year. Now, below are 10 questions from Don Whitney's Biblical Spirituality website to ask at the beginning of the new year to help get our spiritual bearings in the months ahead:

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?