Monday, November 30, 2009
Monday was relatively warm, so we headed to a local park. It was beautiful and a ton of fun to walk around. We immediately found the pigeon square. My little 'bird whisperer' started his time like this:
then they came,
and perched and fortuntely did not leave any presents on his head.
There was a working Buddhist temple inside. On the steps leading down, the inside lane was worn down and kids proceeded to slide down them. I don't know if this was purposely done, or just from wear and tear. But nonetheless, we slid and slid.
We celebrated Selah's 8th birthday with my Mom here. She wanted to wait until Mimi came so that she could bring her to a Chinese Pizza Hut. So, here we are. My kids get much pleasure from making the most dramatic faces possible in the pictures. And I don't know if you can tell here, but Makaria's got some kind of liquid running down her forehead. Lovely.
We headed over to another special restaraunt one night. Outside the eating area are a few amusement rides. So my mom bought the kids a card and let them ride a few rides. Selah and Malachi got on their first ride and the attendant vaulted up the stairs and started to push this big ride. The electricity wasn't working, so he pushed it instead. But they did get a much longer ride out of the deal. Brad pushed too and it made us wonder if we could get a working visa out of that job.
This is the 'train hot pot place'. There's a train that wraps around the restaraunt and you grab your veggies, potatoes, noodles and whatever else you want to throw in. It's one of the only kid friendly places we've been to here. They give the kids toys and fruit before the meal comes. And there's a guy who dances around while pulling noodles and then he puts them in your hot pot. It's amazing. As I read this description, this place sounds weird. But it really is fun, promise. Kesed spent the entire meal squealing, with his hands slapped to his face while screaming "Another Choo Choo!!"
Back outside, our 'push the roller coaster' friend picked Makaria up to give her a spin on the Merry Go Round. All was going ok until he let go of her. She's 16 months old and riding on a horse that bobs up and down. Not sure that's the wisest of decisions, but she did well and was so petrified that her hands never left the pole.
I think they gave us about 4 free rides on different things. Sometimes it pays to be a foreigner.
I really do have a cute mom. Everywhere we went we heard "oh, your mom is so young!" "She's really beautiful!" "Is she your sister?"
Here's the German, Chinese, Catholic church that sits right outside our apartment.
Kesed's deep in thought on his own 95 thesis to nail on the door.
We headed over to a local university one day. The kids rolled around in the blanket of leaves for about an hour. It was a blast.
I realize that I have no Thanksgiving pictures or commentary. That's for tomorrow. When we dropped of Mimi at the airport, many tears were shed. You'd think that after saying good-bye to loved ones so many times, we'd get over the pain involved, but it only seems to get harder. By the end of the week, it started to feel normal to have my Mom around. But until next time...
Sunday, November 22, 2009
My friend said, "He's just meeting them where they're at."
Out of reflex I replied, "No, he's keeping them where they're at."
A church whose pastor normally teaches topically, not expositionally, will never mature past their pastor. He will only ever teach out of what he already knows. Teaching verse by verse stretches the pastor and makes a congregation face questions they never would have otherwise. Not only that, the pastor will tend to avoid uncomfortable or unfamiliar topics presented by God in His word. He will likely return to his hobby-horse subjects or simply people please.
Consider this as you teach and as you select a church.
I realize it's a week early, but Carrie's Mom is coming and we don't want to forget to post a little Thanksgiving cheer.
When we found out my Mom was coming to visit, we started our Thanksgiving turkey. Each day, a different family member wrote something they were thankful for and added it to our turkey. Now we've got a beautiful plume that displays God's goodness to our family.
It has been a crazy, crazy year. Adoption, moving, new schools, new callings. But God has remained consistent throughout the whole thing. He never changes and is always good.
Here's our sponge painting rendition of fall. Hope you all have a Thanksgiving filled with remembrances of what the Lord has done!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Scabies oh, scabies from where did you come?
We're itching all over, toes to our thumbs.
They are small and pesky, those tiny white mites
With no discretion, our bodies they bite.
The doctors so 'nah, it just looks rashy'
For THAT diagnosis I paid you my cashy?
Oh doctors, oh doctors, you misdiagnosed,
Apparently, you didn't look very close.
The couch has been vaccuumed,
The bathroom's been scrubed
Three days of smearing medicine
Then we're jumpin in the tub.
The sheets are all washed,
The floors have been swept.
Bleach is abounding
And Mommy has wept.
It's been a long week, scabies my friends
But your stay at my house must come to an end.
You see, this week, my husband's been gone
Babies are sick and I've been up til dawn.
So I'm afraid you'll have to take your bags and get packing.
I'm tired of your games and your late night attacking.
I'm tired of your presense, your marks, and your stay
It's zai jian, man zou, good bye and good day!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
If you believe in eternal security (which the majority of evangelicals do), then you will need to believe in election. Why? Because if you still have “free will” in the absolute, self-determinative sense, then you could also “change your mind” after you get saved.
[Keep in mind my previous posts---by free will, we’re not merely talking about the ability to choose to do what you want. Everyone agrees with that. That’s not questioned. However, people who use Free Will to resist individual election necessarily/logically mean “libertarian freedom”—which means they can equally choose their WANTS, not just their actions. I think the Bible and logic contradicts this]
If you believe in free will and eternal security, then you are saying that a person could get saved, change their mind, hate God, reject Jesus, and still live forever in heaven with him. OTHERWISE, the believer in free-will has to say that after conversion, God takes away from will such that you can’t change your mind and hate Him. If you believe in free-will (the way most people talk about it), then you can’t say, “True faith won’t change your mind” Why? Because a free will by definition would always be able to choose all options.
Again, one more generally accepted doctrine leads us to accept individual election.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I'm writing this blog not to recount the amazing men and women involved in the LONG process of getting slavery abolished, but to implore you to research it yourselves. There are some amazing people involved in this journey. A few of our favorites:
William Wilberforce. (I linked his name to 'desiringgod.org' because they have a ton of sermons and resources to look at on his life.) We have tried and tried to figure out how to get the name 'Wilberforce' into one of our kids names because we so deeply admire and want to emmulate the life of William Wilberforce. But unless our child is destined to become an NFL linebacker, 'Wilberforce' might be a little intense.
Wilberforce was also an amazing man of God. The illnesses that he struggled with and yet the way he continue to push people to realize the injustices of slavery. If you haven't seen the movie "Amazing Grace", you need to see it. It will give you a glimpse at his life and his struggles. Brad and I have seen it more than a few times.
Malachi and I just got finished studying the underground railroad, where people like Harriet Tubman helped free tons of slaves. The 'underground railroad' link above will send you to this amazing sight where you can travel as a slave would have as he/she was escaping to Canada. It's narrated, with picture slideshows, pop up info., historical tidbits and more.
Living not long after the abolition of slavery (he was actually born, right at the tailend of slavery, some speculate), came George Washington Carver. This man will cook your noodle. The gifts that God gave him in the area of ingenuity and imagination are incredible. Over a hundred inventions using the peanut. He taught the poverty striken South how to more effectively grow crops and make use of their 'trash' to pull themselves out of poverty. Many attibute him with 'saving' the Civil War torn South. While his fame grew, he remained receiving the same income. He wanted to live simply and continue to serve the poor, desperate farmers of the South. When we read a short biography on him, we were blown away. So find a library, today, and find a book on George Washington Carver. Sit down with your kids and thank God for men like him.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Not able to 'pick myself up by my boot straps;' not able to do lots of good things. I was dead.
After you walk with Christ for awhile, you forget that you were once dead. You begin to feel like you have a grasp on this thing called 'Christianity'. Honestly, there are days that I take much credit for good responses to my children, a good time of Bible study in the morning, getting to minister to my neighbors, etc. I think, 'wow, I did a great job today.' It's easy to just say "oh, I have a prideful heart." But as I've been meditating on this, if we don't see ourselves as depraved and desperate, apart from the cross, there are several things that can happen (this list is not exhaustive for sure).
1. You will not want to forgive. "If you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" Mt. 6:15
"What gives so much force to the impulse of anger in such cases is the overwhelming sense that the offender does not deserve forgiveness." -"Faith in Future Grace"
As if whatever that person has done or said is more heinous that any of the sins I have committed in my head. And besides the fact that a lot of the time that I feel someone is beyond my forgiveness, it is directed towards non-believers who are still "enemies of God."
2. I will gossip and put down those around me. Why? Because I only see the righteous in myself and the unrighteous in others. If I am reminded of the failings in my own heart, I will be slow to judgement and quick to distribute grace to those around me.
3. I will continue in my anger and impatience. When I see Christians floundering in their faith. When I see these students that I worked with in youth ministry now living lives of complete abandonment. When I hear of women getting assaulted and beaten inside theirs homes. And even things as trivial as getting cut in front of in line...again! It is in these times that I grow even more angry and impatient. Is some of this righteous anger? Probably. But some of it is also anger that wants revenge. I feel the need to 'go New England' on people. (that is my affectionate term for wanting to beat the snot out of someone instead of letting the Holy Spirit settle things). I need to remember that there have been times where I have looked away from the Lord. I've allowed doubt to guide my path.
4. I will forget to long for heaven. If I feel like my life is plugging onlong quite nicely here on earth, I will forget that my real home is in heaven. I will invest my time in trivial things. I will be too concerned with my reputation. I will put my time and energies into things that will perish. If I remind myself of my depravity, I remind my self of the cross. And in the cross is hope . Hope that will be fulfilled when I get to see Jesus eye to eye.
I think there are a million others. But I'll leave it at that for now.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Do you believe in Jesus’ miracles? Jesus’ raising people from the dead? Healing the sick? Giving sight to the blind? Here’s my point? Do you think these physical miracles are greater than the miracles of spiritual conversion? Honestly ask that question. Which are you most amazed at?
Our amazement will be in proportion to the difficulty of the challenge overcome. Obviously raising the dead is a more amazing miracle than passing some math test.
Matthew 19:25-26 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Do you think God’s changing your heart is far “more” impossible than healing blind and crippled people? OR, do you think that “free will” makes us ultimately able to control our salvation [i.e. He gives the means, but we have to actually make it happen]. The physical equivalent to “free will” relevant to resurrection and healing would be something like this: Actually, a nerve was out of place in the person’s head and Jesus simply slapped it into place; OR, Lazarus was not actually dead, so he ultimately was able to obey Jesus’ command to come forth. Or, the man crippled his whole life was not actually crippled,…he simply had never tried his whole like to walk. Really? In that case, it was not a miracle at all.
In fact, if we believe in free will, we are logically claiming that those physical miracles are great that God’s changing of our heart. But in fact, freewill says ultimately we change our own hearts. Therefore, the person who believes free-will thinks blind eyes and lame legs are bigger challenges that the sinful heart. After all, according to some, we have free-will. In that logic, Jesus’ simply suggests and urges, not commands in an effectual way.
By “effectual”, I mean commanding so as to MAKE IT HAPPEN, like when he raised Lazarus from the dead or made the demons leave people (apparently denying demons’ freewill). So, God, when he saves us, gives us efficacious grace!! Praise God.
If you believe in miracles, weshould inevitably accept God’s sovereignty in election.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
All prophetic fulfillment requires God’s have ultimate sovereignty and control over human hearts. If an Arminian says God can promise to do something in the future (and not merely foretell it like a fortune teller), then God has to be able to overcome “free will”.
Why? All human events, whether wars, births, marriages, migrations, etc…. involve humans choices. If God wanted Israel to defeat another nation, or if he assures that he will save all nations, or says he will send the Messiah, all these things require simple human decisions like, a king deciding to fight and use such-and-such a strategy, various men and women having sex so as to make sure a descendant of David is born (Jesus), and that people actually go to all nations to share the good news. These are promises of God.
If God is not ultimately decisive over human decisions, God cannot actually DO these things, thus can’t promise them. He can only predict them. This is not the sort of God we see in Scripture. That kind of thinking inches closer and closer to deism, if it is not indeed deism. All Christians believe God gives promises, not merely predictions
If you believe in prophecy, you must inevitably accept God’s sovereignty over individual wills, which thus leads us to accept the doctrine of individual election.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I am going to interject in the "Why all Christian's are Calvinists (and don't know it)" series to talk a little about Charles Spurgeon. We celebrated Reformation Day last week and had a great time celebrating this man's life and contribution to Christian history.
Then we sat down for a traditional British meal with stew, honey butter rolls and an apple pie.
There is so much on Spurgeon that we didn't include here. Our family is spending the next year getting to know Spurgeon's life, ministry and death.
"I take it that the highest proof of Christ’s power is not that he offers salvation, not that he bids you take it if you will, but that when you reject it, when you hate it, when you despise it, he has a power whereby he can change your mind, make you think differently from your former thoughts, and turn you from the error of your ways. "
All Arminians affirm that NO ONE can not sin. No one is able to be perfect. However, Arminians also say that human inability would imply that we are not responsible
[Normally, they apply this to election and total depravity, saying, people can’t be held responsible is they don’t have the “ability” to independently (of God’s irresistible grace) choose him.]
However, God does command us to obey Him. Furthermore, Galatians and Romans makes clear that NO ONE can be justified by the law. No one is perfect. This certainly implies some sort of inability since NO ONE is able. This is a moral INability.
[One major reason why people make up the philosophical notion of Free Will is because they assume, contra Scripture, that inability alleviates responsibility]
Therefore, Arminians affirm the same principle that undergirds Calvinism: INABILITY does NOT take away responsibility. In fact, our moral inability actually makes us blameworthy. With respect to our hearts’ condition, our having moral inability, we cannot obey God [ie. Romans 8:7-8]. Apparently, our will is not all that "free" after all.
If you disavow perfectionism, then inevitable you have to affirm total depravity and the need to irresistible, electing grace.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Simply ask yourself, if God gives everyone the same grace to enable all people according to their free-will to receive Christ, then what made YOU different? Why does one brother accept Christ and get saved, while another sibling in the same environment remains heart hearted? Is it because you and I were smarter, more determined, or are more moral? As for me, no way!
The only thing that distinguishes me from others is grace. The only thing I have EVER contributed to my salvation is SIN.
If you humbly believe in grace, you must inevitably accept God’s sovereignty in election.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Do you believe the Bible is God’s word, perfect in every way? We all know that God inspired every single word through human authors. Otherwise, if the Bible is not infallible (without mistake), then we don’t know what is or is not trustworthy. Each letter and book expresses the authors’ own personality yet is kept from error.
However, if God will not overcome human free will (the Arminian idea), then how can we be assured that God protected the perfection of His word? An author might want to say one thing, but God wants something else. According to Arminian assumptions, God cannot overcome the author’s free will to write what he wants. At least, there’s no guarantee of perfection.
If you believe in the Bible’s inspiration, you must inevitably accept God’s sovereignty in election.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
First, a quote from one of the world's greatest evangelists, "I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart." -- Spurgeon
If you believe in Heaven, you have to accept Calvinistic theology and reject free-will. After all, there will be no sin in heaven. Apparently then, we will not have so-called “free will” in heaven. Otherwise, we would have the self-determining power to reject God in heaven.
People suppose that “free will” is needed to genuinely love God. Well, according to Scripture’s view of heaven, that’s not the case. If He can take away free will in heaven, why do we suppose it exists at all now?
If you believe in heaven, you must inevitably accept God’s sovereignty in election.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
For many people, they ask, “If God is sovereign like the Calvinists says, then why should I pray?” I think this is the wrong question. First of all, the Bible does not use this doctrine to discuss abstract philosophical issues of time and space—rather, it intends to emphasize His grace and power in salvation.
Second, I would suggest a better question, which is actually the opposite question I had when I first believed the ‘doctrines of grace’ (another historical phrase meaning “Calvinism”). I asked myself, “If God cannot sovereignly change hearts and minds, then why do I pray?” This is the opposite question. For example, why to I pray for friends and family to accept Christ if God can’t answer that prayer?
Yet Paul prayed like this:
"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved," (Rom 10:1).
"Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you," (2 Thess. 3:1).
Apparently, God can decisively overcome human resistance and save them. He is not like Satan, merely have “persuasive power”. He can answer these prayers. It you don’t believe God can actually cause people to believe and be saved, then why are you praying?
If you believe in prayer, you must inevitably accept God’s sovereignty in election.
Monday, November 02, 2009
My conclusion will be this: Arminian theology logically and theologically requires Arminians to believe God elects every person whom gets saved (and does not elect those not saved). Or, to put it in other words, if you don’t believe in individual election (Calvinism), then you must compromise orthodox Christianity. (I’ve never had anyone disprove this. In fact, even many well known Arminians have admitted this fact and have openly compromised orthodoxy)
Here's the argument. I will NOT assume any uniquely Calvinistic assumptions. (1) God knows everything, including the future, my desires, our opinions and background. God is omniscient. (2) God is omnipotent. He can arrange circumstances, give me ideas, etc. [Yet, Arminians will say God can do this without infringing on “free will”].
These two orthodox positions then lead to the following: God knows what would “convince” me to believe, whether a book, a conversation, an idea, or a set of circumstances. Furthermore, if he is omnipotent, he can arrange such circumstances such that a person will be convinced. Therefore, God chooses to act, arranging situations or giving ideas, OR he doesn’t. God knows the “persuasive power” of his actions, thus he essentially elects some people or doesn’t elect individuals simply on whether He acts or doesn’t act. [Again, notice I’ve only used Arminian assumptions]
Here’s a key point: God’s choosing not to act IS de facto a decision to act in another way. He knows the results of his activity and inactivity. In his foreknowledge, He knows that His choosing NOT to act will have consequences just as much as his choosing TO act. Both are His decisions. Thus, the results are in his sovereign hands.
If you refuse to accept this conclusion, then in order to be theologically consistent, you have to redefine (and thus compromise) omniscience OR omnipotence. Open Theists explicitly deny God knows the future. They admit that foreknowledge necessarily leads to choosing. On the other hand, if you compromise on the meaning of “sovereignty”, then you become more and more like a deist (believing that God created the world like a watchmaker, not actively involved in the world, just letting it run). This is heresy and obviously anti-Biblical. Fortunately most Arminians I know and love live better than their theological principles.
It does not solve the problem to say God looks into the future and “elects” those He foreknows will believe. This completely ignores the fact that those future actions are inevitable responses to what God chooses to do or NOT to do between creation and the time of their choices.
Consider the following verses: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” (Luke 10:13-14)
Notice, Jesus knew what would save Tyre and Sidon. However, he didn’t go to them. As a result, they too will be judged. These verses demand our reflection.
If you believe in God’s omniscience and omnipotence, you must inevitably accept God’s sovereignty in individual election.
First of all, “Calvinism” is a poor term that frankly don’t like. For one thing, most Calvinists I know have never read a paragraph of John Calvin. It’s a historical misnomer. People believed in so-called “Calvinism” way before John Calvin. Calvinists believe in the doctrine of election, predestination, and that God is sovereign over hearts; Calvinists do not believe in free will. Arminians do not believe in election and predestination; they do believe in free will. Calvinists believe God elects individuals to be saved. Arminians do not believe God elects individuals (This is a quite over-simplified introduction of terms)
Some people say, “Don’t push Calvinism. Just teach the Bible.” Of course, that is a false separation as far as we are concerned. For example, the other day, I pointed out the importance of logical words in Scripture (like “because”, “so that”, “therefore”, etc.) I pointed out John 10:26, “you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.” Someone accused me of pushing Calvinism! Actually, I simply pointed how we should pay attention to all the words of Scripture b/c it surprises us often. I never once mentioned “Calvinism”. I just teach the Bible. Actually, Free Will is a philosophical concept completely absent from the Bible. People read into the Bible that assumption and concept.
The point of this series is to argue, all Christians, including Arminians, actually do believe in individual election (Calvinism), whether they realize it or not. However, the awareness of this truth can great enhance Christian joy…hence I’m writing this to serve the two other people who read our blog.
In history, the worlds greatest evangelists have been Calvinists, like William Carey, David Livingstone, David Brainard, Jonathan Edwards, John Paton, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield,…..
Listen how direct, even provocative Spurgeon (whom all Arminians and Calvinists alike love), “The doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works..."
The key issue is whether God has the sovereign power to change the human heart. If you believe God is decisively able to change hearts (i.e. overcome so-called “free will”), then you are a Calvinist.
EACH point will show how orthodox Christian beliefs (which Arminians affirm) necessarily lead us to accept God’s sovereignty in electing individuals to be saved.