Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Bible, "Theological Education Matters!"

This week, while reading in Acts, I was struck by a passage that says a lot about the need for people to do theological education. By theological education, I mean more disciplined, thorough, systematic reflection upon the teachings of Scripture. It can be done either at a seminary OR in a local church context.

That theological education matters is NOT obvious to all people. Many, many people reject it as too intellectual or as tending to make people disobedient, "ivory tower" type Christians. For a while, when I was younger, even I demurred seminary education. This criticism is short sighted and unbalanced.

In Acts 18, we hear of Apollos,"He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue" (Acts 18:24-26a)

This guy was obedient, read his Bible, preached the gospel, was bold...why mess this guy up with theological instruction? Yet, continue reading..."but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. (Acts 18:26b-28).

If we don't have pastors and leaders more thoroughly competent in the Scriptures, beyond attending Bible studies and having "quiet times", our churches will tend to fall victim to the shortcomings of our traditions and to the subtle lies of heresy and worldliness. It is not enough to settle on "the simple basics". Deceptions are never so "simple". To take such a minimalistic view is to disregard the importance of God's entire Biblical revelation....Anyone willing to say they want to throw out Romans and Hebrews because their too "heady" and "theological"?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Homeschool conference

We got to go down south for a few days to attend a home school conference.  It was fantastic.  I would  love to add some zippy commentary, but I'm tired, so it's mostly pictures.  We got to go to a minority village place that has lots of the Chinese minority groups represented.  It was fun to get to introduce the kids to all the different groups around our country.  And some friends of ours from the States were performing while we were there.  So a friend of mine and I took our oldest daughters for a night out on the town.

We've got some updates, but they will have to come later this week.  One of which is that our landlord wants her apartment back.  Ok, ok, really, you'll have to wait until later. 

Here's Brad and some "hot chicks".

You could buy some beer bottles and throw them at a rock. Yes, that's spend money and throw bottles at a rock. But the sign reassures you that "smashing things can bring you peace and relaxation".

Our kids had a blast trying on hats and watching shows of the different groups.

This guy was making bamboo cups. He did it all with just bamboo and a really sharp knife.

We had a great time, but it's always nice to be home again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What a gift!

Here are a few verses to cure all ungratefulness. Notice the common theme:

Acts 5:31, "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins"

Acts 11:18, "When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life."

2 Timothy 2:25, "...correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth..."

Phil. 1:29, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake"

How often we dare to presume our autonomy and prerogative to repent. What a cure for pride and staleness in our walks with Christ. God grants repentance.  In Acts 11:18, they glorified God because of this grace, not despite it. What a gift!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sweet Sister

Two days ago, Charis was looking at pictures of the new baby and she said to the computer "Sister, come home! Sister, you come home! Why are you not home yet?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Continuation of the Red Scarf Drama

So Selah is now at a new school. It's right behind our apartment complex. She's got lots of friends there and is doing really well. And with the start of a new school, come the continuation of the desire to wear the prized red scarf. We did a post previously about how the red scarf is worn by people that are considered good students. It's to recruit for the Party when the students are older. We've decided to let her wear it and just see what happens. Well, last week, Selah came home so excited. She is now one of three 'red scarf police'. She stands at the doorway while students come in for the morning and checks to make sure they're wearing their red scarf. If they aren't, she reports to either the teacher or the 'head' of the red scarf police. (mind you, these are all 7 year olds).

So not only is she wearing the scarf, but promoting it's conformity. We are going out of town for a few days this week for a home schooling meeting and she told me that she's really concerned that she won't be at school to implement her red scarf duties. She was also excited that she could feel genuine when she sang the national anthem said the pledge. She said before her red scarf, she just felt like she was pretending, but now it's for REAL. She also refers to former important Chinese leaders as grandpa. As in Grandpa Deng Xiao Ping, for those of you who know your Chinese history.

So there you have it, the next chapter of the "Red Scarf Drama".

Friday, March 13, 2009

Only half like our blog?

Some people only read half our blog. Some like the picts and family. Others like the theology.

If you want to undersand what makes us tick better, you might want to check out one of both of these links:

TIME magazine's recent issue discussed 10 of the ideas most changing the world right now. Check out Idea #3 Changing the World

Also, some people may wonder why we're always posting sovereignty of God, Calvinistic, election, "reformed" type posts. Some people may have no idea what those words even mean we just typed. (Yes, "we" since most people don't realize how often Carrie does theological posts too.) For those interested, a good book to pick up to explain the other "emerging" movement in the American church might be Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Timely Words to the "First World"

"For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." ---Jesus (Revelation 3:17)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Why don't I just rest?

In Exodus 16, God is so frustrated with the Israelites.  He gave them 2 days worth of food so that they could rest on the Sabbath.  But the some of the Israelites decided to go out and gather food.  God had ALREADY supplied their needs, yet they went on searching for more.  Why do we feel the compulsion to keep searching when God has already supplied what we need?  What do we think we’re going to find?!


So I’ve been searching my heart for the areas of my life where I am frantically searching for something.  What am I searching for? 


Is it:

Answers to prayers?

Plans for my future?

Purpose in life?



Whatever it is, I do know one thing:  He has already abundantly supplied for my needs….I am only to rest. 

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Jan Johnson in When the Soul Listens wrote: 

“Waiting on God is a problem only if you are in a relationship with God for utilitarian purposes – to get the prize from the vending machine.  But if you are in the relationship for God Himself, waiting means you still have what you want – God – even while you wait.” 

How Jesus Used Election to Evangelize

Matthew 11:25-30, At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; [26] yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. [27] All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. [28] Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Verses 28-30 are some of the most loved verses in the Bible. They are Christ's evangelistic appeal to us to come to him. However, I don't know that I've ever heard someone show the foundation for these verses, which of course are the words right before it, v. 25-27, which is one of the most overt passages in the Bible teaching the sovereignty of God in salvation. Why does Jesus so emphasize these truths in order to invite people to follow him? [I recently heard J.I. Packer say that the doctrine of election was a "family secret". By contrast, the Puritans were actually quite explicit to use God's sovereignty as a basis for their evangelism.]

Verses 25-27 where Christ "rejoices" in God's pleasure in hiding the truth from some people while revealing it to others actually gives people reason to run to Jesus. Unfortunately, too many people are embarrassed by the doctrine and sadly think they are contradictory doctrines.Verse 25a humbles us, reminding us that God alone decides who shall be in his kingdom. As king, he has the right to save or not to save people. It's a miracle he saves anyone. Further, it gives us confidence that we can be saved when we see how great is our sin. We can't save ourselves, but God can do the impossible! He is sovereign. On the other hand, verse 25b gives us hope that God is eager to save us! It is God's good pleasure ["gracious will" in the ESV] to reveal truth to the humble. In fact, v. 27 says, "no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Obviously, even the unsaved saw Jesus with their physical eyes; the whole point of the passage is that Christ rejoices that God keeps closed or opens our spiritual eyes.

Therefore, we must resist our democratic heritage to the regard that we lose the ability to understand a completely sovereign King. We should gladly proclaim God's sovereignty in salvation as a way of offering humility, confidence, and hope. Election has long to long been seen as a philosophical, abstract system. NO! When we talk like this, it looses it heart. God in Christ has shown himself a personal King, giving us glad reason to come to him for rest!

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