Saturday, December 27, 2008

Atheist Believes Africa Needs God

In today's Times on Line, an avowed atheist provides a unique perspective on the difference the gospel is making in the lives of Africans. Particularly striking is this quote:

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

For this committed atheist it was the transformation the gospel brings that has forced him to admit that his own worldview cannot account for what he is observing. Would that the gospel do the same in our hearts so that those around us cannot deny the transformation even if it does not fit their worldview!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

C.J. Mahaney on the Disturbing Nature of Christmas

While taking a brief break from preparing the Christmas Eve message for tomorrow night's service, I came across this helpful blogpost on the Disturbing Nature of Christmas. I commend the entire post, but to whet your appetite here is a juicy quote:

During this time of year, it may be easy to forget that the bigger purpose behind Bethlehem was Calvary. But the purpose of the manger was realized in the horrors of the cross. The purpose of his birth was his death.

Or to put it more personally: Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. The incarnation reminds us of our desperate condition before a holy God.
This is a helpful reminder that if we preach the birth of Jesus without reference to his death and resurrection for our sins we are actually presenting a distorted picture of what Christmas is actually about.

May we all grow in our awe and wonder that God would take on flesh and be born in a filthy stable/cave to save sinners from the fury of his wrath that we deserve for our rebellion against him.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All Things are Better in Koine

For those of you who love both geek and Greek humor, this is a must see video. You will want to watch a few times over to catch all of the humor. And even if you do not know Greek, I think you can still appreciate some of the humor.

HT: Jim Hamilton

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Announcing Bibleworks 8.0

Recently Bibleworks announced the release of their latest version, 8.0. The weblink provides further details on what is new in this release. Perhaps even more helpful are the series of posts at the Bibleworks Blog where Michael Hanel has been reviewing different feautures of the new version. I personally am looking forward to now having the OT Pseudepigrapha in Greek fully tagged and searchable, as well as the two new features called the Phrase Matching Tool and the Related Verse Tool. From everything I can tell, it looks like another major improvement. They have even included as standard now the grammars by Wallace, Waltke/O'Connor, and Juon Muraoka. Unbelievable! There are other fine Bible software programs out there, but NONE of them can match the bang for your buck that you get from Bibleworks.

As best I understand, they will not begin shipping for another two weeks or so. But you can place your order now. The amazing thing is that the cost for the package remains an unbeatable $349. And upgrade prices are also available: from 6.0 is $175 while from 7.0 it is $150. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Son of Man, Can this Blog Live?"

With all due apologies to Ezekiel 37:3, the remnant of you who have continued to check this blog may have begun to wonder something similar. This current semester that is now in its last days has been the most challenging of my young academic life, and in the midst of it all the blog has sort of fallen to the periphery. Here's just a taste of some of the things that have been keeping me busy:

A Full Academic Teaching Load. While I have taught a full load before, in light of some of the changes made here at Grace I have begun teaching some undergrad classes as well. In light of this the total number of students I have in my classes this semester has quadrupled. I have also been developing and overseeing a new class in our General Education Core called Exploring the Bible, which is an overview of the biblical metanarrative. While I have enjoyed these responsibilities, it has consumed much more time than in past semesters.

A Full Ministry Teaching Load. By this distinction I am not indicating that my academic teaching load is not ministry, of course. But outside of those responsibilities I have been busy teaching in the church context as well. I taught a 12 week Sunday School class on the Minor Prophets, which I greatly enjoyed. As part of our church's IMPACT Leadership Training Program I taught a 10 week course entitled "The Gospel-Centered Life." And every Monday night during the semester I led a mentoring group of Grace Seminary students through 1 Timothy. I have enjoyed each one of these opportunities to refine my thinking on these areas.

A Full Writing Load. In the midst of this I have been chipping away at my commentary on Philippians that I am writing for the Mentor series. I look forward to my time in Philippians, but things have been so busy that I have not made as much progress as I would have liked. I have a couple of other writing projects in the works at different stages as well.

A Full Family Load. This fall Kate began teaching English at a Christian Junior High / High School. She has enjoyed it a lot, but this change has resulted in some alterations to our family routine. Also, our oldest son played PeeWee football and our youngest is now playing basketball. And somebody has to play with Luther, our 20 month old Boston Terrier.

With all of that said, I do plan to resume regular posting. My intention is to take snippets of some of the things I have been working on this past semester and post them here. In particular, I would like to work through some of the material I used for the Gospel-Centered Life class.