Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 Reading Report

Below is a list of the books I read (or at least read a good part of as research for a seminar talk I gave) during 2022. The count of 19 is down a bit from 2021 (23 books), but I still managed to read more than a book a month.

 Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God's Heavenly Host by Michael S. Heiser

Beyond Racial Division: A Unifying Alternative to Colorblindness and Antiracism by George Yancey

Hostile Environment: Understanding and Responding to Anti-Christian Bias by George Yancey

Calvinism: A Biblical and Theological Critique edited by David L. Allen and Steve W. Lemke

The State of the Evangelical Mind edited by Todd C. Ream, Jerry Pattengale, and Christopher J. Devers

When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse by Chuck DeGroat

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Book review -- Truth At All Costs

One of my Facebook friends, W. Logan Dixon, who is a Cumberland Presbyterian pastor about an hour up I-40 from me in Russellville, Arkansas, preached a series of sermons on the epistle of Jude in the fall of 2021. Recently, he decided to edit his sermon notes and publish them as a book called Truth at All Costs: Sermon Notes on Jude from a Concerned Cumberland Presbyterian Candidate. He posted about it on Facebook about the same time in November 2022 that my own pastors were starting a 3-week series on the epistle, so I was interested in seeing how Rev. Dixon approached the text. Here is my review of the material.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Why Aren't My Prayers Answered?

 I recently saw a post on social media that said the following:

If my prayers go unanswered, I ask myself 3 questions:

1) Whom have I granted access to my life that doesn't belong there? (Wrong people can be doors of entry to demonic forces.)

2) Am I trusting wrong voices? (Faith cometh by hearing)

3) Did I allow anger to "mature" into bitterness?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Can we please stop with the fake news about persecution and censoring?

Today (October 6, 2022), I saw a post from a friend that said the following:

Earlier today, Jennifer Wilson Hall had a post removed by Facebook stating the content “did not meet their community standards”. Well, below is the bible verse that was removed. I am asking that everyone that sees this please post the verse also.

2 Chronicles 7:14,

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. “🙏

God bless America. I am asking that everyone that sees this to please post the verse also.

 I copied & pasted. Won’t you?

 A silent nation is a defeated nation!

God is on High!! He’s still in control! His Son Jesus Christ IS the only way!! Amen!!

Having seen many posts similar to this over the past few years, I decided to do a little research. I used Google to search for the phrase "Earlier today, Jennifer Wilson Hall." I found a blog article from June 2020, and there was a comment (also from June 2020) that was identical to the first four paragraphs of my friend's post.

So people are still copying and pasting a post that is over two years old, where the first words say "earlier today," which, even if this event actually occurred (and I have my doubts about that -- more on that below). it didn't happen "earlier today." 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Dangers of Meme Theology

In the weeks and months after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Dobbs case, with the result being the reversal of Roe v. Wade, many of my fellow pro-life advocates have shared the following meme on social media:

The meme is somewhat clever, and it makes the point that an unplanned pregnancy is not necessarily a tragic thing.

The problem is, the meme is also false.

Monday, August 8, 2022

First Love and the Church in Ephesus

In spite of all the good things about the church in Ephesus, Jesus makes one charge against them in Revelation 2:4. Different English translations word it in various ways:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. (NIV)

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (KJV)

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (NKJV)

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (ESV)

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! (NLT)

Most people usually seem to interpret this loss or abandonment of the Ephesian church's first love as being about their love for Jesus. But notice how the New Living Translation includes the possibility that Jesus could be talking about the Ephesian believers' love for one another.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

On the need for discernment

It seems from my experience (and from what I have heard others say) that possibly the most neglected and underappreciated gift of the Spirit is the gift of discernment. Tim Alberta, himself the son of a pastor, cites Michigan pastor Ken Brown, writing, “'Discernment'—one’s basic ability to separate truth from untruth—'is a core biblical discipline. And many Christians are not practicing it.'”

Now I'm not talking about so-called "discernment ministries" that seem to do nothing more than pick out certain individuals, churches, ministries, or movements as "enemies of the faith" and then go over everything those people say or do with a fine-toothed comb to find the smallest mistake they can use to raise a charge of "HERESY!!" I'm talking about real, Spirit-guided thinking.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Is this really the life God planned for me?

I recently saw the following quote posted on social media.

I understand that the person who posted this meant for it to be inspirational, and as a reassurance that God knows what is going on in our lives, even when they seem out of control.

The problem with it is that, when carefully examined, the quote espouses a deterministic view of how God interacts with His human creatures, that God foreordains and sets in motion every single detail of each person's life. It implies that the untimely death of a child was orchestrated by God and part of what He wanted for that child's family. It would seem to indicate that the horrific events of mass shootings in the spring of 2022, including the deaths of 19 elementary school children in Uvalde, Texas, were "exactly the way God planned" for those families' lives to be. 

From another angle, the sentiment expressed in these words could be interpreted as meaning that even when we make bad, sinful choices that result in painful consequences, it was somehow God's will and plan that we would make those choices in order to suffer those consequences. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

I Want to Be Biblically Fluent

The longer I live, and the more I read the Bible, the more I realize that Scripture is not simply a manual for me to look up what to do in a particular situation. The Bible is not meant to be read just for reference, but to immerse myself in it. Rather than a pietistic checklist item I feel forced to mark off every day, my engagement with the Bible should be about getting to know God better. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

2021 Reading Report

I'm going back through all my notes and trying to reconstruct the list of books I read this past year (I've got to do better about keeping the list current as I go -- that's one of my 2022 goals).

First off, I read the entire Bible through again in the New Living Translation, but this year I used the more leisurely Bible-in-a-year plan instead of the accelerate 90-day schedule (which I found very hard to keep up with in 2020, as it took me closer to 120 days).