Archive for March, 2009

Tour of Flanders This Sunday

Posted: March 31, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Yes, I know most you don’t care.  But this race is freakin’ awesome, one of the best on the calendar.  I plan on watching it Sunday afternoon with a nice Belgian Ale and “frites avec mayonaise.”  Cobbles, Steep hills, lots of wrecks and high drama.  Gonna be a great day!

The infamous "Koppenberg" climb.  Can you believe a bicycle can go up something that steep?

The infamous "Koppenberg" climb. Can you believe a bicycle can go up something that steep?

Below, a youtube video of people actually riding up that sucker

This story reminded me a lot of a thought provoking post by Iain Boyd over on his blog.  Check it out hereThe basic point of this is how far does the blood of Jesus go?  Could it prevail even for this man

khmer-roughKaing Guek Eav is an elderly former math teacher and a born-again Christian. 

He is also — prosecutors contend — a former prison chief with Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge movement who oversaw the torture and killing of more than 15,000 men, women and children three decades ago.

The trial of the 66-year-old man, better known as Duch, began Monday in front of a U.N.-backed tribunal just outside the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

Duch faces charges that include crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and murder.

Spectators, many of them survivors of the abuse, watched the start of the trial from an auditorium separated from the courtroom by a large glass window.

While he has admitted his role in the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal reign, Duch won’t be spared weeks of evidence, much expected to be shocking.

read the whole thing here or watch the video here

mosesI would recommend reading this in preparation for Holy Week. Overall, I would say it is one of the best sermons on the atonement that I have ever read, and I ‘ve read lots! Enjoy

Thus have I led you to consider the person who made the atonement: let us now consider for a moment or two THE MEANS WHEREBY THIS ATONEMENT WAS MADE. You read at the 5th verse, “And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.” And at the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses, “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” The first goat I considered to be the great type of Jesus Christ the atonement: such I do not consider the scapegoat to be. The first is a type of the means whereby the atonement was made, and we shall keep to that first.
Notice that this goat, of course, answered all the pre-requisites of every other thing that was sacrificed; it must be a perfect, unblemished goat of the first year. Even so was our Lord a perfect man, in the prime and vigour of his manhood. And further, this goat was an eminent type of Christ from the fact that it was taken of the congregation of the children of Israel, as we are told at the 5th verse. The public treasury furnished the goat. So, beloved, Jesus Christ was, first of all, purchased by the public treasury of the Jewish people before he died. Thirty pieces of silver they had valued him at, a goodly price; and as they had been accustomed to bring the goat, so they brought him to be offered: not, indeed, with the intention that he should be their sacrifice, but unwittingly they fulfilled this when they brought him to Pilate, and cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Oh, beloved! Indeed, Jesus Christ came out from the midst of the people, and the people brought him. Strange that it should be so! “He came unto his own, and his own received him not;” his own led him forth to slaughter; his own dragged him before the mercy seat.
Note, again, that though this goat, like the scapegoat, was brought by the people, God’s decision was in it still. Mark, it is said, “Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” I conceive this mention of lots is to teach that although the Jews brought Jesus Christ of their own will to die, yet, Christ had been appointed to die; and even the very man who sold him was appointed to it—so saith the Scripture. Christ’s death was fore-ordained, and there was not only man’s hand in it, but God’s. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” So it is true that man put Christ to death, but it was of the Lord’s disposal that Jesus Christ was slaughtered, “the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.”
Next, behold the goat that destiny has marked out to make the atonement. Come and see it die. The priest stabs it. Mark it in its agonies; behold it struggling for a moment; observe the blood as it gushes forth. Christians, ye have here your Saviour. See his Father’s vengeful sword sheathed in his heart; behold his death agonies; see the clammy sweat upon his brow; mark his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth; hear his sighs and groans upon the cross; hark to his shriek, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” and you have more now to think of than you could have if you only stood to see the death of a goat for your atonement. Mark the blood as from his wounded hands it flows, and from his feet it finds a channel to the earth; from his open side in one great river see it gush. As the blood of the goat made the atonement typically, so, Christian, thy Saviour dying for thee, made the great atonement for thy sins, and thou mayest go free.

read the whole thing here

Preached by Rob Sturdy on 3-29-09. Watch this sermon in full audio and video. Cleck here

Cool New Feature on AwakeningGrace

Posted: March 30, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

From now on all sermons at Trinity Church will be shown here in FULL VIDEO!  We’re also working towards moving all teaching to audio only format.  To access this feature look for the new page at the top of your screen called AWAKENINGGRACE T.V., just to the right of “Friends of Awakening Grace and Approved Resources.”  You can access last Sunday’s sermon with full video now.  Stay tuned for audio teachings to be updated later this week.

My second sermon at Beth Israel Messianic Synagogue. Listen to it by clicking hereIf you only have time to listen to one of my sermons from my time at Beth Israel, listen to this one.  I think it is a better preparation for Holy Week and will deepen your understanding of what is taking place on Good Friday.  Enjoy!

I preached this sermon at Rabbi David Levine’s Messianic Synagogue in Jacksonville Fl.  I had a wonderful time.  The worship was vibrant the people were great.  I also coveted my time with David and his wife Sandy. They are both filled with grace and wisdom.  Anyway, below is the link to my sermon.  I left my notes in Myrtle Beach by accident so that is why my Scripture references were vague (and sometimes misplaced!) and some of my facts were off (like Origen!).  Nevertheless, I thought you might want to see what I was up to.  If they post the other sermon I’ll be sure to post it as well. Enjoy!  To hear the sermon simply click here.

Thanks to Colin Burch for diggin this up. What a cool quote. I’ve purchased the new album and think I’ve listened to it about 15 times already. Pretty awesome. But check out the quote below. Bono is talking about the song “Moment of Surrender.” While you’re at it go pay Colin a visit here

“Moment of Surrender” tells the tale of a lost soul, borrowing an Alcoholics Anonymous term for the moment an addict admits helplessness. “The character in the song is a junkie, so that’s where I got it,” says Bono, who has written about heroin addiction before, most famously on “Bad” from The Unforgettable Fire. “I’ve been surrounded a lot in my personal life by addiction — in the last few years, in particular,” Bono says. “I know a lot of people — not least the bass player in the band — who has had to deal with their demons in courageous ways.” (In the Nineties — around the time he was engaged to Naomi Campbell — [bass player Adam] Clayton grappled with alcoholism, and went to AA himself.) “And maybe there’s a part of me that thinks, ‘Wow, I’m just an inch away’,” Bono continues. “There’s no doubt about the fact that I have a wild streak and I’d be very capable of setting fire to myself. So, you know, I don’t go to church for the view.”

 As many of you know I continue my studies for a Masters in Theology.  This essay was for a course called “Calvin and Accommodation.”  It principally deals wiht the Christological implications of Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation.  Don’t worry, I’m told it is far easier to understand than the last paper I posted.  Enjoy! 

Dowey writes “Calvin’s theology exalts the category of knowledge.”[1] Dowey’s assertion is easily defensible considering Calvin’s opening statement of his famous Institutes on the Christian Religion concerns the nature of true wisdom as resting upon the double knowledge of God and ourselves (Inst 1.1.1).  And though Calvin’s theology placed enormous emphasis on the category of knowledge, this category nevertheless faced profound difficulties.  Calvin was an inheritor of a medieval epistemology that having departed from the more present epistemology of the early medieval period[2] refused a natural, unmediated knowledge of God.[3]  It was crucial therefore, for the knowledge of God to be mediated to humans through the material creation as well as through the special revelation of God’s spoken word.  The later Reformed maxim finitum no capax infiniti (“the finite is not capable of the infinite) came to articulate this important principle of late medieval and Reformed epistemology.[4] Because the finite is not capable of the infinite, it was necessary for God to reduce himself in order that he might in some small way be grasped by his creation.  For Calvin, as for many of the church’s theologians before him this process of reduction was known as accommodation.[5] 

                Though accommodation was used before Calvin, many Calvin scholars note that for Calvin accommodation is less peripheral and more central to the theological development of the reformer.  For example, Battles writes “Calvin makes this principle (accommodation) a consistent basis for his handling not only of Scripture but of every avenue of relationship between God and man.”[6]  Similarly, Paul Helm regards accommodation as the “central idea” of Calvin’s religious epistemology.[7]  If accommodation is at the center of Calvin’s epistemological program, what then might be at the center of accommodation?  Battles writes that the incarnation of the eternal Word in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is for Calvin the “accommodating act par excellence of our divine father, teacher, physician, judge and king.”[8]  So too does Dowey write that the “final accommodation to human sinfulness” was in the person of Christ.[9]  Though Balserak comes to the conclusion cautiously, he nevertheless also writes “the incarnation still seems to be…the unquestioned highpoint of his (Calvin’s) sphere of accommodating activity.”[10] 

                Whether accommodation is the epistemological principle of Calvin’s theology or that Christology ought to find itself at the center of Calvin’s theology of accommodation is debatable and beyond the scope of this paper.  What is clearly evident within Calvin’s corpus is that both accommodation and Christology hold privileged positions within the theological agenda of the reformer.  The question is thus prompted, how do Calvin’s thoughts on accommodation and his Christology interact with one another?  The organizing argument of this paper is that the doctrine of accommodation as employed by Calvin has significant influence on his Christology.  Calvin’s employment of the doctrine of accommodation determines his precise and innovative articulation of the incarnation, the atonement, redemption and the offices and actions of the mediator.  It will further be shown that in the incarnation, Calvin has articulated an accommodation that threatens neither God’s essence nor man’s nature in the condescension of the Word.  A serious treatment of one of these theological categories and their relationship to accommodation could fill twenty pages (and more!) of research.  Therefore these will be treated after an introductory fashion only, hoping to relate the parts to the whole to give a bird’s eye view of the effect Calvin’s epistemological concerns in accommodation have on his Christology. (more…)

Wonder if He’d Come Talk to Our Government?

Posted: March 26, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

I have always found the way the British conduct politics to be pretty amusing.  American political speech is essentially a pragmatic endeavor.  You seek to convey a point, primarily to your constituents that you stand for such and such.  Much of the real political work has already been done on the telephone.  I imagine this to be true of British political interaction as well, with one add on.  The British politicians love to give good speeches.  By this I mean that their speeches are not only weighed for content, but for their ability to excite a response.  The short speech posted below is gripping for a variety of reason.  You can also be certain that the young man representative is thoroughly enjoying himself.  Watch the clip closely.  The content is superb and is at the end of the day the reason I posted it.  But I also want you to notice the one or two seconds the camera focuses on Gordon Brown.  Even though he is being lambasted he is nevertheless SMILING!  Why?  Because he is appreciative of the rhetoric and no doubt preparing an equally colorful, verbose, comedic, and biting response.  Enjoy the clip. 

alb-modleBelow is an actual letter from an Episcopal priest that was put out on facebook. The title of the post was “letter to a seminarian” and it was described as “essential advice.” Why have I posted this? So that you can see how easy it is to waste eternity. As Christians we have been given the Gospel, which is the “power of God unto Salvation” (Rom 1.16). If the Gospel really is the power of God unto salvation, wouldn’t it make sense to spend all your time, energy, and passion on thinking through its implications and sharing it with the world? But priests and pastors waste this gift when they obsess over frivolities. Look at the time, thought, money, and energy this man has spent on acquiring a holy wardrobe.  Now let me ask this, what good will it do him or his flock in eternity? Lay people are no more exempt from this critique than priests or pastors. How often have we worried ourselves with what the building looked like, or what the priest was wearing (or not wearing!), or what shape the flowers were in? People tear churches to pieces over such things. If only they would show the same angst over the Gospel! If only that would stir them as much as the quality of the priests robes! May God call us away from such things, that we might not come to him on the day of judgement content to tell him we kept the building pretty and the priest in fine clothes. Would that we might have more to show for our faith than silk robes and fancy shoes.

” J&M Sewing makes an excellent alb and amice, and I now have three of them. They are in the same condition now as when I first got them 4 years ago. So – they’re great, and I seem to remember they weren’t much more than 100 bucks. They also made me some excellent stoles, which some day I hope to supply with chasubles.

For shirts, I have found an excellent source. They still have to work out some kinks, but I love the shirts I have from them. The company is bestcustomshirt.com, which is run by a company in New Jersey called Giorgenti. They make a fully fitted shirt for $49 with about every option you could want. They’re durable and wash well. You just have to order the traditional band collar, and specify that you want two button holes in the front, and one in the back. They offer french cuffs, pockets, the whole deal. If you order shirts in black, I would assume they would turn out great.

For collars, the regular old clericools are really the best, with simple studs. I’d recommend getting a collarette, which attaches to the regular collar and provides the cassock-finished look. Stemper’s has this stuff in stock.

I really favor the look of white or blue french-cuff shirts with a clerical waistcoat and jacket. The waistcoat is essentially a vest that goes on over the collar. J&M sewing makes them, and that’s where I got mine. I wear it basically every day. Once you have that, you can get black suits (btw, Jos. A. Bank has a sale right now – $299 for two). Then, get more pants than jackets.

If you need shoes, (maybe I’m going to far with it), the Allen-Edmonds outlet in Brookfield is a great source. Sometimes, you can get a pair for $179. My last pair lasted me for 3 years, and I wore them every day. Now, I have two pairs and I rotate them. They are the best shoes I’ve ever had and worth every penny.”

As Easter approaches I thought this might be a helpful little paragraph to prepare for that great day with a little reflection. The following is an excerpt from Paul Beasley-Murray’s The Message of the Resurrection from the Bible Speaks Today Commentary Series (as a side note, if lay people are looking into making an investment in a commentary set, this would be the one for you).

“On Easter Sunday 1960 the great Methodist preacher W.E. Sangster lay speechless and helpless. He was able, however, to write a message to his daughter, Margaret: ‘It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout , “He is risen.” But it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”
-Beasley, The Message of the Resurrection pg 15

Demian Farnworth wrote these 18 guidelines for what I’m assuming is his blog Fallen and Flawed (it looks pretty good to me). Considering scripture memory was a major discussion of my small group last night, this might be relevant for more than a few people. Enjoy!

1. Read it repeatedly. Did you know you can memorize Scripture during your morning devotion? Instead of zipping through your reading for the day, pause and camp on one verse for a long time. You won’t regret it.

2. Pay attention. Sounds obvious, but often ignored. Simply forcing yourself to be aware of what you are reading can help you internalize the words. Repetition will make the mind wander. What you have to do is bring it back.

3. Visualize what you are reading. Take Psalm 1:1 for example. “Blessed is the man who does not walk with the wicked nor stand in the way of the sinner nor sit in the seat of the mocker.” Your first tasks is to see the three actions here: walking, standing and sitting. If you can see the three main actions, then you can start to memorize the surrounding words.

4. Create anchor words. In the above example, your anchor words are “walking,” “standing” and “seating.” In Colossians 1:15, my anchor words are image, invisible and firstborn. Whenever I get lost while reciting a passage I look for my anchor words to orient myself.

5. Recognize patterns. In Psalm 1:1, after the first line, the next three sentences follow this pattern: a verb, a noun and a modifier. Think of each of these as a bucket you drop the appropriate word into.

6. Start with the easy. Now, some passages are easier to remember than others. Psalm 1, easy. A page from Romans, hard. On your first effort at memorizing large chunks of Scriptures, don’t tackle Romans. Build some confidence first by memorizing Psalm 1 or the Sermon on the Mount.

7. Stagger. Sorry, not like you were drunk. What I mean is memorize an easy passage then a hard passage then an easy. Give your brain a break. This way you’ll avoid burnout.

8. Build memorable associations. If you want to remember difficult section of scripture like Romans 1:18-20, it helps to imagine God hovering like a brooding mountain over the world to represent all three verses. This is a robust picture hard to forget.

9. Anchor memorable associations in chapters. These rich word pictures can also help you when you’re trying to memorize entire chapters of the Bible. They orient you on a larger scale.

10. Cheat a little. Once you’ve absorbed a hunk of Scripture, don’t be afraid to keep a sheet of paper nearby with keywords or section headings to help you out when you need a reminder.

11. Narrate. Sometimes it helps to describe in your own words what you are trying to memorize. This will also help you build memorable associations, spot keywords and develop anchor words.

12. Stick to a ritual. I find it easier to memorize Scripture in my car–I have a long commute–and before I sleep. Especially early on in the process of memorizing, I can’t remember my passage as easily anywhere else except these places. So, until I gain more confidence, I stick to this ritual.

13. Sing it. Try opera. Or a musical. The point is to be dramatic. As if you were in a play. [This is my favorite trick, by the way.]

14. Try mnemonic devices. Many of us learned ROY G BIV to remember the colors of the rainbow. Make up your own device to memorize anchor words or more. In Psalm 1:1, your device would be WSS, or walk, stand and sit.

15. Enlist your body. If mnemonic devices aren’t your cup of tea, use body parts. Classic example of this is Ephesians 6:10-18, the armor of God. Waist, chest, feet, forearm and head complete the armor and can help you navigate through this lengthy passage.

16. Repeat the alphabet. Say you just can’t remember that big word in 1 John 2:2. Run through your ABCs. When you get to P, it should trigger the word escaping you: propitiation.

17. Type it. One way to memorize something like John 1:1-3 is to type it into your computer. Not once. Not twice. But ten times. Maybe more. Your call.

18. Hear it. After you’ve typed it, next, read it aloud and record it. Then listen to the recording several times.

Don’t forget: As you work on memorizing, turn off the TV, unplug your iPod and shut down your computer. You’ll retain more.

read it on the site here

As many of you know I have been working on an Masters of Theology from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando Fl.  Below is my most recent essay for any one who is interested.

“The central theological framework of radical orthodoxy is ‘participation’ as developed by Plato and reworked by Christianity because any alternative configuration perforce reserves a territory independent of God.”[1]  This excerpt from Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology demonstrates both the breadth of the agenda of Radical Orthodoxy as well as the mechanism through which RO seeks to accomplish its goals.  Briefly put, RO reads the history of Western cultural movement since the Enlightenment as an ever increasing secularization.  Overtime, the abstract philosophy behind the secularization of the West worked itself out in a dangerous nihilism, systematically devaluing embodied life, self-expression, sexuality, aesthetic experience, human political community etc.[2]  A revaluing of such things, argues RO, will take a framework that both denies the secular as well as grounds the immanent upon a platform that can give it ultimate meaning and eternal stability.  This is done through RO’s theological framework of participation, which understands the material world as suspended from the transcendent in the same manner that a bridge is suspended above the nothingness beneath it. (more…)