Month: November 2011

Rock Me Amadeus – Serving with Joyful Excellence

The 1984 film “Amadeus” won eight Oscars for chronicling (albeit with much flare for fiction and literal license) the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life and his genius for music. The film also dealt with Mozart’s fellow composer Antonio Salieri’s obsessive and ultimately deadly jealously of him. As Salieri becomes increasingly obsessed with Mozart, he stops composing music and focuses on destroying Mozart. At the end of the movie, Salieri sends Mozart into a delusional depression by overworking him and randomly appearing dressed in his father’s funeral mask. Tired and sick, Mozart eventually dies. Years after Mozart’s death, Salieri is still haunted and obsessed with him. An old, lonely, and brooding man, he attempts suicide by cutting himself while yelling the Mozart’s name. While the ambulance cart is dragging a bleeding Salieri to a doctor, they pass a formal ball where Mozart’s music plays loudly. Fixated as he was, Antonio Salieri could never escape his obsession, even in death. When we think of obsession, we tend to picture subjects like poor Antonio Salieri. Obsession brings to mind a dark, brooding, joyless soul trapped into preoccupation with something or someone.  Obsession usually ends in futility and anger. However, this is not the kind of obsession at the center of Biblical servanthood. It should instead be characterized by a joyful pursuit of excellence, because at its root, Christian service should have...

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Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

The Crisis “Where have all the good men gone?” – It’s a question we ask so much it’s become a cliche. The lack of mature men to step into leadership roles in their families, churches, and communities has long been a concern in evangelical Christian circles. And, if Kay S. Hymowitz’s piece in the Wall Street Journal is any indication, the secular world at large is starting to catch on. In her article, Hymowitz opines that modern society has created a third stage through which guys must pass through on their way to manhood: pre-adulthood (the first two being boyhood and adolescence – another topic for another day). In her book I Don’t Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I’ve Dated (which I don’t recommend for a number of reasons, but Hymowitz quotes in her article – I include the quote here because I think it’s helpful), Julie Klausner describes males who are in this stage as “guys” – too old to be a boy, too immature to be a man. Here’s how Klausner describes the typical American guy: “Guys talk about ‘Star Wars’ like it’s not a movie made for people half their age; a guy’s idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends…. They are more like...

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Book Review Can I Trust the Bible

The raging controversy during the 1970s and 1980s was the inerrancy of Scripture. Theologians from the early church fathers to scholars today have affirmed that all Scripture is inspired and true, including the history, geography, dates, names and every single word. Men such as Carl F.H. Henry, James M. Boice, J.I. Packer, John MacArthur (Sr. and Jr.), Francis Schaeffer, Paige Patterson, Robert D. Preus, and W.A. Criswell gathered together during October 1978 to finalize the Chicago statement on inerrancy. Can I Trust the Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul is the commentary of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy starts with five short sentences on Scripture’s divine origin, verbal, plenary inspiration and full and unmitigated inerrancy. The statement continues by offering nineteen articles of affirmation and denials explicitly laying out what the International  Council on Biblical Inerrancy is saying (Affirmations) and what it is not saying (denials) about the doctrine of Scripture. In Can I Trust the Bible? Dr. R.C. Sproul elaborates on and defends not only the Chicago statement on inerrancy but provides historical context on why the issues of the authority, revelation, inspiration, inerrancy and truthfulness of Scripture matter and then concludes with explaining how a proper understanding of the Word of God is important to individual believers and the health of the local and corporate church. Can I Trust the Bible is a...

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What’s the Easiest Way to Discredit the Truth?

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and a brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. Acts 16:16-18 Reading this passage got me thinking: What’s one of the easiest ways to discredit the truth? With a false witness. Paul, Silas and Luke are in Philippi, where they were to do ministry. Meanwhile, this slave girl with a “spirit of divination” shows up (read: she’s a demon possessed fortune-teller), and starts following them and shouting that “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” The thing that’s interesting is she’s telling the truth. They are servants of the Most High God, and they are there to proclaim to the Philippians the way of salvation. She does this solely to hinder their work. This girl, a slave, has made her owners rich with her fortune-telling. No doubt she’d have something of a reputation for...

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The Joy of the Lord

Nehemiah 8:9-12 falls within a section beginning at Nehemiah 8:1 and ending in Nehemiah 10:39. This section of the book is about the reading of the Law and Covenant renewal. In this section, the Book of the Law is read, the Feast of Booths is kept and a great act of covenant renewal is performed. For the first time in Nehemiah, Ezra enters the narrative. This section shows the unity of his and Nehemiah’s projects. With the walls securely in place, the centrality of the Mosaic Law is once again made prominent, since it is not security alone that is essential to the life of the community, not even the temple, but trust in God and obedience to God’s Word as revealed through Moses. Nehemiah 8:9-12 is where the people are called to be joyful. Though sorrow for sin was a positive response, joy at renewed relationship with God was the teaching’s ultimate purpose. In verse 9, Nehemiah and Ezra together decide that this holy day (Lev 23:24) should be one of joy, though the reading has led many to sense the need to repent of their sins. They wept as they heard the words of the Law because when they heard and understood God’s law, they understood their violations of it. These were not tears of joy, but penitent sorrow which came forth as they were grieved by...

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