Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions for a Lifetime

THE RESOLUTIONS of Jonathan Edwards


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tools for the New Year

Bible Memorization - Here

Family Worship - Here

Bible Reading Calendar - Here

Friday, December 21, 2007

Revealed: The seven great medical myths | Reuters

Revealed: The seven great medical myths | Reuters: "Revealed: The seven great 'medical myths'"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Guard calmly returned fire at church - with the help of the Holy Spirit

Wow - talk about courage!!


By Kieran Nicholson
The Denver Post

Larry Bourbonnais, a combat-tested Vietnam veteran, said it was the bravest thing he's ever seen.

Bourbonnais, who was among those shot by a gunman Sunday at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, watched as a security guard, a woman who has not yet been named, calmly returned fire and killed the shooter.

"She just started walking toward the gunman firing the whole way," said Bourbonnais, who was shot in the arm. "She was just yelling 'Surrender,' walking and shooting the whole time."

Bourbonnais, 59, had just finished up a hamburger in the cafeteria on the sprawling church campus when he heard gunfire, he recalled.

Bourbonnais headed in the direction of the shots as frightened people ran past him looking to escape to safety.

"Where's the shooter? Where's the shooter?" Bourbonnais kept yelling, he recalled.

Near an entryway in the church, Bourbonnais came upon the gunman and an armed male church security guard who was there with his gun drawn but not firing, he said.

Bourbonnais said he pleaded with the armed guard to give him his weapon.

"Give me your handgun. I've been in combat, and I'm going to take this guy out," Bourbonnais recalled telling the guard. "He kept yelling, 'Get behind me! Get behind me!' He wouldn't hand me his weapon, but he wouldn't do anything."

There was an additional armed security guard there, another man, who also didn't fire, Bourbonnais said.

Bourbonnais yelled at the gunman to draw his attention, he said.

"First, I called him 'Coward' then I called him 'S---head' " Bourbonnais said. "I probably shouldn't have been saying that in church."

That's when the shooter pointed one of his guns at Bourbonnais and fired, he said.

Bourbonnais ducked behind a hollow, decorative pillar and was hit in the arm by a bullet and fragments of the pillar.

At about that moment, a female guard with a drawn handgun turned a corner and walked toward the gunman and yelled "Surrender!" Bourbonnais said.

The gunman pointed a handgun at the woman and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.

The female guard fired off about a dozen shots.

After the gunman went down, Bourbonnais asked the woman, who has only been identified as a volunteer security guard with the church, how she remained so calm and focused.

Bourbonnais said she replied:

"I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time."

Justification by Faith Alone

"This doctrine [justification by faith] is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour…. For no one who does not hold this article – or, to use Paul's expression, this 'sound doctrine' (Titus 2:1) – is able to teach aright in the church or successfully to resist any adversary . . . this is the heel of the Seed that opposes the old serpent and crushes its head. That is why Satan, in turn, cannot but persecute it...Whoever departs from the article of justification does not know God and is an idolater . . . For when this article has been taken away, nothing remains but error and hypocrisy."

- Luther

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cautioning Preterism

by JM
pret•er•ist ˈprɛt ər ɪst - [pret-er-ist]
a person who maintains that the prophecies in the Apocalypse have already been fulfilled. Compare FUTURIST (def. 2), PRESENTIST.
It is essential for interpreters to focus on the chronological cues given in Scripture. It’s precisely this norm that has led a body of interpreters to regard many of the New Testament prophecies, which have been largely taken futuristically by modern interpreters, as having already been fulfilled.

So, when we read Jesus catering the prophecies of the Olivet discourse to a particular group of guys in a known historical setting that have clear connection with the events experienced in their lifetimes (e.g., such as the destruction of Jerusalem), it is our interpretative responsibility to view those prophecies as having complete fulfillment in that chronological locale rather then in some distant era which holds so relevance to the audience.

“When you see all these things, recognize that He is near; right at the door; truly I say to you too, this generation will not pass way until all these things take place” (Matt 24:33&34).
Again, this would be true of John who addresses seven existing churches about the book he pens,

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3).
Many more instances could be cited.

I believe that this value for chronological fidelity is one that should be taken seriously and would do much to dispel much extravagant thinking within eschatology, as well as to enrich our understanding of history. However, I think many who support it have adopted an unfortunate and unnatural prophetic reductionism that makes the prophetic portraits of Scripture feel like wearing one’s high school pants – too tight and too restrictive. I contend that genre of language found in places like the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation allows for a more flexible reading of chronological markers (e.g., “this generation” “the time is near”), and in fact requires a qualified exception of the interpretive rule which says that the right interpretation is the one the audience would have understood. When I say “qualified,” I mean precisely to keep the Pandora’s box of unbridled subjectivistic interpretation closed. This exception would only apply to particular apocalyptic portions of Scripture, as the context of such portions would demand.

In what follows, I won’t offer a defense for how I believe this to be the case with supposed second coming passages disputed between futurists and preterist. Instead, I offer the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 7:1-16, affirmed by both futurists and preterists as having its fulfillment in the first coming of Christ, as an example of the kind of flexibility allowed for and arguably required for second coming prophecies. In particular, I contend that if preterists are consistent, their principle of interpretation would lead to a rejection of Isaiah 7 from messianic status. This prophecy contains many of same the qualities that lead preterist to their particular stance on most of New Testament prophecies. If I’m correct, then we have strong precedent which allows us to have a futuristically inclined kind of interpretation as an option in dealing with debated second coming passages.

Isaiah 7 starts out setting up the context of the prophecy. We read of a confederation of apostate Israel and Syria joined to oppose Judah (vs.1). It appears that they previously had great success against Judah, deporting a significant number of people to Damascus (2 Chronicles 28:5-8). Emboldened by their previous exploits, and perhaps motivated by a power play against Assyria, they plan to strike again.

When Ahaz hears the news that Syrians had arrived in Israel, preparing for a second campaign against Judah, it is said that “his heart shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind” (vs.2).

It’s in the midst of this present terror of impending doom that God sends Isaiah to King Ahaz with prophetic hope. God tells Ahaz that though these two kings have planned evil against him, even toppling the Kingdom and setting up another king, “It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass” (vs.7). Not only does God relate the failure of this impending campaign, but also declares that Israel will be shattered within sixty-five years.

We read that King Ahaz was “at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field” when Isaiah gave this prophecy (vs.3). He probably was evaluating the status of the cities water supply, bracing for the imminent attack. As Ahaz stands next to this conduit, having heard the prophetic assurances of Isaiah, he receives an important cue as to the prophecies fulfillment. Though King Ahaz rejects the need for assurances, nevertheless God insists:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken” (14-16).
Notice which event precedes and signals the above mentioned events: A virgin will be with child and bear a son. Before the boy reaches a sense of moral obligation, the treat to Judah will be dissolved. According to this passage,

•This sign will occur in the midst of this particular threat (vss.5-7)
•This sign could occur no later than 65 years after its utterance (vs.8).
Most date this prophecy at 734. We know that this particular confederacy was broken within two years of this prophecy. Tiglath Pilesar III destroyed Damascus in 732, making Rezin the last king of Syria, therefore destroying the confederacy which could have toppled Judah. We also know that twelve years later Assyria would proceed to topple the Kingdom of Israel, and within sixty-five years (vs.8) depopulated it to the point of obscurity, thus bringing into fruition the saying “the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.”

Contextually, therefore, Isaiah 7:14-16 has its fulfillment some six hundred years before the birth of Jesus. If chronologically cues are the decisive determining factor for prophetical placement and fulfillment, as the preterists insist for prophecies like the Olivet Discourse, then one is forced to say that there has been a misreading and misapplication of this prophecy by Matthew.

However, if we instead allow the usage of prophecy to inform our theory of interpretation, it is not at all unreasonable to affirm that some prophecies have multiple layers. Each layer taken by itself fulfills particular elements of the immediate context; however a layer taken by itself will be insufficient to fulfill the totality of the prophecy. In the case of Isaiah 7, it seems that there was a particular young lady that Ahaz knew who was with child and perhaps even gave birth within a few days of his meeting with Isaiah. Whatever the case, this prophecy spoke to him. This sign had immediate relevance. We have to affirm something like this to handle the context properly. However, Matthew records that this prophecy has fuller-fillment in the Messiah.

So at the very least, I’ve removed a principle that leads preterists to immediately dismiss all futurist fulfillments of prophecies which have clear historic fulfillments. This forces the combatants in the overall debate to wrestle with each particular disputed prophecy to identify markers that may suggests a fuller-fillment of an already fulfilled prophecy.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nehemiah's wall uncovered

Nov 28, 2007 23:17 | Updated Nov 28, 2007 23:21

The remnants of a wall from the time of the prophet Nehemiah have been uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem's ancient City of David, strengthening recent claims that King David's palace has been found at the site, an Israeli archeologist said Wednesday.

The section of the 2,500-year-old Nehemiah wall, located just outside the Dung Gate and the Old City walls facing the Mount of Olives, was dated by pottery found during a recent dig at the site, said Hebrew University archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar.

The archeologist, who rose to international prominence for her recent excavation that may have uncovered the biblical palace of King David, was able to date the wall to Nehemiah as a result of a dig carried out underneath a nearby tower, which has been previously dated to the Hasmonean period, (142-37 BCE) but which now emerges was built centuries earlier.

As a result of the excavation, both the 30 meter section of the wall and a six-by-three-meter part of the previously uncovered tower have now been dated to the fifth century BCE based on the rich pottery found during the dig under the tower, she said.

Scores of bullae, arrowheads and seals from that period were also discovered during the excavation.
"This find opens a new chapter in the history of Jerusalem," Mazar said. "Until now, we have never had such an archeological wealth of finds from Nehemiah's period."

Nehemiah, who lived during the period when Judah was a province of the Persian Empire, arrived in Jerusalem as governor in 445 BCE with the permission of the Persian king, determined to rebuild and restore the desolate city after the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians a century earlier, in 586 BCE.

The Persians had conquered the Babylonian empire that had destroyed Jerusalem and taken most of the inhabitants of Judah into captivity in what is now modern Iraq.

The Bible relates that despite the resistance of hostile neighbors who had occupied the area around Jerusalem in the Jews' absence, the whole wall was completed in a speedy 52-day period.

The tower at the site lies on the back of the walls of the palace that Mazar uncovered at the site two years ago, indicating that the palace must have been built first and strengthening the claim that the site was indeed King David's palace, she said.

The three-year-old dig is being sponsored by the Shalem Center, a conservative Jerusalem research institute, where Mazar serves as a senior fellow, and the right-wing City of David Foundation which promotes Jewish settlement throughout east Jerusalem