November 29, 2008

A sad day for this Dawg...


Uga VII's face above pretty much sums up our '08 football season. So much much choking when it counted. *sigh*

November 25, 2008

Some perspective on Thanksgiving...that isn't sentimental for a change!

My friend Mark sent this video link to me today and I thought it was absolutely right on! PLUS...both guys in the clip are funny and redheaded; what more could you ask for??



November 21, 2008

Please take less than 1 minute and do this...

Hey everyone,

I hate when Christians send around petitions because they're usually alarmist, fear-mongering, or simply untrue. BUT this is one that history will absolutely judge us on as a society:

PLEASE take the minute or so to do this. I'm not gonna use any of those "you're not a true believer if you don't..." tactics or anything like that. I'm simply appealing to your desire to fight the greatest human rights injustice in the US today and to do what is right, true and just in protecting the innocent and aiding those in need of help (both child AND mother!).

Even MANY who are generally Pro-choice(!) have rejected the proposed Act because of its horrible potential consequences and moral bankruptcy. This is a non-partisan was abolition, women's suffrage, and civil rights.

As I've said before, I will respect, follow and pray for our new President, President Obama. But he MUST be told that such an Act as the FOCA is both unconstitutional and, well, evil masquerading as 'freedom'.

If you feel passionately about this as well, PLEASE pass it on to others. Don't do it in an annoying self-righteous or combatitive manner. Be respectful, polite, but straightforward. The conscience of a nation can be changed...just ask William Wilberforce, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sincerely and passionately,


ps: If you have a Myspace, Facebook, Blog, or website, please post this banner somewhere on it to raise awareness of this. Just copy the code found here and paste it into an html section of your page.

November 19, 2008

Exegesis? What's that??

Next week will mark the end of this semester's Passage classes. I've had a blast teaching "Bible for the Rest of Us" and "The Hebrew Bible" and I hope those of you who have completed the courses have as well!

One of the things we talk about in all our Passage classes is the importance of faithfully and accurately interpreting the texts of Scripture in their original contexts before determining any modern meaning or application. This often involves some hard work and study...but that's how God designed it!

This process of finding the original intended meaning of a text to its original audience is called exegesis (X-uh-JEE-sis). It means "to draw out", as in to draw out the meaning from the text itself rather than reading our own meaning INTO the text. That process has a fancy name as well: eisegesis (EYE-suh-jee-sis)...and it is to be avoided as much as possible--particularly by those who find themselves in positions of teaching or spiritual authority.

This point was illustrated to me recently by a prayer letter that was sent by a very prominent TV ministry to a member of GS. She gave it to me and asked me to take a look at it.

I did.

I was not encouraged by what I read.

The letter is a call for Christians to pray for the safety of Israel right now because of Russia and Iran's evil intentions. (You can find it online here.)

Fine. No problem. (But why not pray for Russia and Iran's people and their safety as well, while we're at it??)

The petition for prayer wasn't the problem (though it WAS dangerously nationalistic...something thewhole book of Jonah was written to combat!). The problem came when the author attempted to provide "Biblical" support for his political foreign policy position.

Here is an excerpt:

About 2600 years ago, God gave the Prophet Ezekiel a description of an invasion
of Israel after the Jews had been regathered to the Promised Land from all over
the world in the “latter days.”
Ezekiel wrote of an invasion force led by Russia
that would include Iran and “Cush,” which is Sudan
. The other parties described
by Ezekiel that constituted theinvading force
could include some of the Muslim
nations in the former Soviet Caucasus region and possibly Turkey
. According to
Ezekiel 38:12, they would come seeking “plunder and loot.”
What greater plunder
than the oil riches of the Persian Gulf
?Will this unfold all at once? It’s
difficult to say. But what is clear is this: The Israeli strike against Iran
will be the trigger. From then on, dramatic events will follow in quick
succession. It all will conclude when God has rained fire on the islands of the
sea and on the invading force coming against Israel.

Where will the United States be in all of this conflict? According to Ezekiel, the “young lions of Tarshish” will be questioning the Russians about their aggression – questioning, but not acting to stop it. Who are these “young lions of Tarshish?” Tarshish was the region beyond Cadiz in Spain. In antiquity, explorers from Tarshish came to Ireland, then acrossthe ocean to North America, traveling the Mississippi River as far as the present-day site of Davenport, Iowa.I believe the term “young
lions of Tarshish” refers to England and the United States of America. According
to Ezekiel, when the Middle East trouble begins, the young lions of Tarshish will warn Russia and Iran, but refuse to act. We will suffer grave economic damage, but will not engage in military action to stop the conflict. However, we may not be spared nuclear strikes against coastal cities

In conclusion, it is my opinion that we have between 75 and 120 days before the Middle East starts spinning out of control. If there was ever a time for fervent prayer, it is now. Prayer can change the course of history!

Now while I wholeheartedly agree with that last sentence, that is about all I can find there that is Biblically based! First of all, it would be helpful to read the chapter that the author is referring to from Ezekiel. (Rather than posting it all here, you can find it online at various Bible sites such as this one.)

Now, did you notice that not once in the entire chapter do we find any references to Russia, Iran, Sudan, the Soviet Caucasus, or Turkey? Those modern countries have been READ INTO (i.e. eisegeted) the text in order to fit with the author's idea of what should happen. I've highlighted the eisegetical ideas above for clarity's sake.

And putting aside for the moment that the Hebrew text does not say "the young lions of Tarshish", but rather "Sheba and Dedan and the traders of Tarshish with all their young lions", the much bigger eisegetical error is using the fact that some people may have moved from Tarshish, Spain to Ireland and then to parts of America as indicating that Tarshish really means "England and the United States." This is a bogus journey of interpretation indeed!

What about the fact that millions of people have settled in the US and England from places like Iran, Russia, Sudan, and Turkey? Using the very same eisegetical line of thinking the author is using, one could argue that since the US has people from all those countries, it is THE US that is being spoken of as the invading forces in Ezekiel! Surely the author would not agree with this? So why then should this reasoning be used to identify the US as "Tarshish"?

My point is that ALL of this is reading a meaning into the Bible that is simply not there. That is the essence of eisegesis and the complete antithesis of sound Biblical interpretation, exegesis. Such imaginary readings go a long way in instilling fear and xenophobia into readers who may not know better and who may simply trust the author because of his fame as a minister (not to mention driving up donations to ministries such as his who seem to be able to "decode" the current political events)...but they do little in the way of teaching the Bible and creating sharp, discerning, learned students of Scripture--which we are all called to be.

Even well-known and well-intentioned Christians can fall into error...and unfortunately it usually makes it into the media when they do. If you ever feel like one of the pastors or teachers here at GS--especially me!--is falling into eisegetical readings of Scripture, please come to us one-on-one or via email or however you feel comfortable and let us know. I know I am not above making interpretive mistakes, and should I ever fall into error I hope the Body of Christ is there to guide me back into truth. So consider that an open invitation for discussion to anyone reading this! :)

"Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more." Luke 12:48b


ps: For anyone wanting to learn more about how to avoid eisegesis when reading the Bible, I recommend the following resources wholeheartedly:

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth - Gordon Fee & Doug Stuart (Dr. Stuart was a prof. of mine as well as of my Dad, and is a phenomenal teacher and scholar of the first rank)

Exegetical Fallacies - D.A. Carson

for higher-level study, I recommend Fee's New Testament Exegesis and Stuart's Old Testament Exegesis as well.

November 18, 2008

Chuck Norris' computer has no 'ctrl' key...Chuck Norris is always in control!

My friend Bert sent me a link today to an article that the uber-legendary Chuck Norris wrote regarding all of the events surrounding California's passing of Proposition 8. Chuck's probably a little more "God and Country" conservative than I am, but he does make some good points in the article.

Particularly interesting is the following observation:

"What's surprising (or maybe not so) is that even though 70 percent of African-Americans voted in favor of Proposition 8, protests against black churches are virtually nonexistent. And everyone knows exactly why: Such actions would be viewed as racist. Yet these opponents of Prop. 8 can protest vehemently and shout obscenities in front of Mormon temples without ever being accused of religious bigotry. There's a clear double standard in our society. Where are the hate-crime cops when religious conservatives need them? "

This is quite the irony, is it not?

Discuss at will.

And while you're mulling it over, here are some facts that you might not have known about the author.



November 14, 2008

Questions surrounding the Bible and same-sex teachings

The debate concerning homosexuality and its place in the life of the Christian faith has been going on for the last few decades. There are many people who are advocates of homosexual sexuality and its validity in the context of mutual monogomy, who also seek to maintain their understanding of the teachings of Jesus. Unfortunately, they are usually met with vitriol, contempt, or dismissal by Evangelical Christians (not to mention outright hate, perpetrated in the name of Jesus, by cult members like Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church!).

This is unfortunate and unnecessary--and in my opinion, completely unacceptable. Fortunately, there are those who hold to the Apostolic historic Christian faith who balance proclamation of Biblical truth with courtesy and tact. When it comes to the issue of same-sex relationships and behavior, an individual who demonstrates such a response is Dr. Robert Gagnon, NT Professor at Pittsburg Theological Seminary. Dr. Gagnon has written what is, at the moment, the most exhaustive and definitive book on the Bible's teachings on homosexuality, "The Bible and Homosexual Practice". In addition, Dr. Gagnon has lectured extensively, particularly within mainline denominational settings where this issue is a lightning rod for controversy.

I recently came across the following program where Dr. Gagnon provides some excellent insight from Scripture on the issue. I thought I'd share it with the Dojo:

Pure Passion Season 3 / Episode 2 - Robert Gagnon from Pure Passion on Vimeo.


Lecrae's new album, "Rebel"

Christian hip hop has traditionally been...well...pretty weak. Christians are usually about a decade behind the culture when it comes to arts and entertainment. So whenever people find out that I'm a huge Christian hip hop (or Gospel Rap) fan, they usually look at me with that "Bless your heart" expression in their eyes. (Those of you in the south know what "bless your heart" really means!)

I understand and can sympathize with hip hop fans who've only heard of early DC Talk or John Reuben and think there's not really any Christian hip hop out there that can compete with Jay-Z, Nas, Tupac, 50 Cent, Outkast or Li'l Wayne.

But God has been raising up in the last few years a whole generation of men and women who have a passion for Him and a hip hop heartbeat. Cross Movement, Flame, Da' T.R.U.T.H., JR, 116 Clique, Trip Lee, Grits, DJ Morphizziz, DJ Maj, Tunnel Rats, Urban D and many many others have arrived on the scene and are claiming hip hop culture for the Kingdom of God. And in my personal opinion, Lecrae is at the head of the pack! I've seen him live and this guy transforms the stage and the crowd into a mixture of club, stadium and sanctuary.

His newest album, Rebel, is everything I expected from him. Lecrae has the ability to put the deepest theological and cultural concepts into lyrics that border on genius; yet he's able to speak to the culture on a level that any kid watching BET or MTV can hear.

Lecrae has a passion for taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth--and additionally, a bigger passion to see those who've accepted the Gospel grow in their faith and become full-on disciples of Jesus. Listening to Lecrae, in contrast to much of what clutters the Christian music airwaves, is often much like sitting in a seminary classroom...with a ridiculously good beat. If you've yet to discover Lecrae (and those like him), let me be the first to introduce you.

And once you've gotten hooked on him, follow it up with the following albums:

"Real Talk" and "After the Music Stops" by Lecrae

"Rewind", "Our World: Fallen" and "Our World: Redeemed" by Flame

"13 Letters" and "Amped" by 116 Clique

"Moment of Truth" and "The Faith" by Da' T.R.U.T.H.

And if you have a chance to see any of these guys live, by all means go see them!!

November 13, 2008

Sarah Palin and gender equality thoughts...

This afternoon I got an email from my friend Rick Hiner with a link to a blog that cited a paper his wife Amanda had written about gender equality in this country in the aftermath of the election. Amanda and Rick have been in a number of classes with me here at GS and Amanda has time and time again impressed me with her insight and eloquence...though with her being a Ph.D, one shouldn't be surprised. Regardless of who we voted for, I think Amanda makes excellent points in her essay and I wanted to share them with the Dojo and welcome any discussion on the topic.

I've loved getting to know Amanda and Rick in class and am truly grateful to have people like them in our church community!


ps: I must confess though that as far as Lampooning goes, Fey's Palin was far better than previous candidate impersonations...and it seems that even Palin enjoyed it when she appeared on the show. :)

November 11, 2008

pinch-hitting for my boy tonight

Tonight I had the honor of filling in for my good friend and brand-new 2nd-time father, David Hickman as the speaker at CharlotteONE:. The previous week I had done a live painting onstage while he spoke on the Cross of Christ. (It was so much fun and I believe we are going to auction off the painting and give the proceeds to ONE)

Anyway, he was going to speak tonight, but his wife decided she'd go into labor this afternoon (so selfish!). ;) He had asked me a few weeks ago if I would be able to step in should the need arise and I said absolutely. So tonight, David got to welcome Cole Wayne Hickman into the world and I got to teach on Jesus' cry of "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!"

If you're interested in hearing the message, it is up on the CharlotteONE: website here. It was a fantastic experience and maybe if I'm fortunate, or if David has any more kids on a Tuesday night, they'll ask me back. :)


November 6, 2008

Excellent critique of a recent Focus on the Family letter

Recently, James Dobson's Focus on the Family released a letter about the horrors that would likely happen if Obama were to win the election. You can read the original letter here.

Today, I came across the following response to this letter on the Neue ministry website:

I absolutely agree with the author and feel that he brings to light quite well why it is exactly that younger evangelical Christians are becoming more and more distant from Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, and other political-religious institutions.

For my own thoughts on the election, I refer you to the previous post in the Dojo.


November 5, 2008

Our soon-to-be-President

This is an historic period in our country's history, absolutely. Tuesday night America chose our next president, Barak Obama. As someone who is a political Independent I have seen good and bad in both candidates. Now that the country has spoken it's time to get behind our next Commander in Chief no matter who we voted for.

First, the good news. President Obama will VASTLY increase America's reputation around the world. There's a reason the world followed this particular election so closely. Obama represents what the world sees as America's shift away from its Neoconservative foreign policy and racial hypocrisy (regardless of whether or not such reputations are deserved).

Obama's victory has also done much to chip away at the cynicism, particularly among young urban voters, regarding the importance of being involved in the political process we are so fortunate to have. It was also good to see the excitement among students, particularly among non-white students, as we finally see tangible evidence that in order to hold the highest office in the land, you don't have to be the stereotypical "old rich white guy". This has, in theory, always been the case; but now it's become a reality.

Also, Obama is to be commended for his desire to meet with Americas enemies diplomatically with no preconditions. This is, in my opinion, much closer to the Gospel's demand that we be peacemakers and that we go to those who we realize have things against us, rather than waiting for them to come to us.

Lastly, Obama does not hold to the dangerous ideological/theological worldview that sees America as God's Nation and the various "end times" scenarios that such theologies almost always entail.

Now the bad news. There has never been a President who shows less regard for human rights of the unborn than Obama. Here is his address to Planned Parenthood, the most powerful advocate of legalized abortion in the country.

Obama has the potential to be an incredible world leader...but not as long as he supports--no, fights to uphold--the ongoing holocaust of the womb. God's heart is for the most vulnerable in society...even those who He knits together in their mother's womb (Psalm 139:13).

Therefore, as followers of the TRUE One in charge, it is our calling and duty to pray for President-elect Obama. May he govern with Wisdom. May he see the awful reality of fetal genocide (what else can you call the death of 50 million innocents in the last 30 years??) and may his heart be brought to repentence and may he then TRULY be one who brings change.


ps: I have to say though, it's pretty cool that our next President can drive the lane! :)

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