Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why is deflation bad?

I'm still trying to figure it out. I'll write more later, but this is a neat article, followed by some very amusing, sometimes sarcastic, and even intelligent comments.

Do you know why deflation is bad?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Padeobaptism and Amillennial Eschatology

These big words always create an awkwardness for me when we have a baptism service at our church. For those who do not know, Em and I go to an Evangelical Free church. Technically it's not a denomination but an association, but if you are not familiar with their approach, our church, Eastside Community, has a 'reformed baptist' feel. We have many baptists/former baptists at our church; they're probably the largest chunk of those who attend. Reformed meaning a commitment to the sovereignty of God with a theological approach summarized in T.U.L.I.P., and baptist in the sense that they are credobaptist and hold a premillennial view of the end times.
I am not a debater. I am not quick witted or a gifted oral communicator. When I have the chance to sit and think, I can usually put my worlds together enough through writing that I can communicate my thoughts to those reading. I know we are called to be able to give a defense of the Gospel, unless I was in a class of fifth or sixth graders, I'm sure my arguments for the Gospel would not stand against an atheist with a bit of mental stamina. Likewise, since the folks at our church are no slouches in their knowledge of theology and quick to present a defense of their beliefs in a logical, scriptural manner, I rarely bring up the that I feel they are wrong in both areas I previously mentioned.
I'm not sure why, but I've always questioned premillennial eschatology; not in an active sense, but something about it concerned me though I never sought to find out what about it seemed out of place. The churches I was in as a young christian did not require me to define my theological beliefs. Infant baptism has been a part of every church I've been a member of until now. In fact, most of my theological growth occurred in a Presbyterian church (PCA) under a pastor that grew up in a baptist church. Until college his belief in the rapture and believer's baptism was solid, but as he studied further he found those beliefs challenged until they succumbed to that belief both infant baptist and an amillennial approach to endtimes more accurately fit the the teachings of the Bible. That church was also made of a large chunk of baptists/former baptists. Perhaps they suffered the same discomfort I feel now.
I have missed every baptism service at Eastside to date. Emily was there for the service this morning. I stayed at home with two sick kids. In the past the baptism services always occurred during the Sunday evening service, an easy service to miss. This morning, if needed, I was to assist the baptees out of the baptismal and provide them with towels. Though I love to serve, it was going to be awkward.
This evening I've been thinking. We chose Eastside because of their great teaching commitment to reformed theology and expository teaching, but also because though credobaptists, they would not require our children who were baptised as infants to be re-baptised when they become members. This was a major problem for us prior to Eastside. We attended Em's aunt's church, a baptist church, and developed some strong friendships, but new to baptist teachings, when we realized the kids, as well as Emily, would be required to be baptised again for us to join, we were forced to leave in search of another body of believers. Anyways, back to what I was thinking, Elise is our last child, outside a miracle or adoption. Emily had her tubes tied after Elise. Four kids were enough for us. But what if we were to have another child. Committed to a convenantal approach of theology, I believe baptism is to the New Testament church, what circumcision was in the Old Testament. Circumcision was a outward expression of the Spirit-given faith that was required of a man and all the males in his household. Hebrew infants were circumcised to show their position in the family of believers though they had not believed themselves. Given the language of the New Testament, households being baptised, etc it is clear to me this was the view of baptism held in the early church. Again, if we were to have another child, I'd desire the child to be baptised as instructed by scripture. If the church I am currently attending would not baptise that child, am I attending the right church?
Fishing for commitments to credobapitism among the men of Eastside at our retreat this weekend, I joked that it would be so much easier if we sought more traditional reformed roots and simply sprinkled the baptism candidates instead of all the work it took to get the baptismal ready. Though the reactions were not hostile by any means, the suggestion was firmly rejected.
I don't believe my amillennial approach to eschatology would be a hill to die on, but I feel stronger toward the baptism issue. I've a meeting tomorrow night with some men from church regarding some other things, but I'm going to bring it up. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I really didn't notice that I was different from the other kids until high school. It's a shocking thing to find out at that age. There's a lot of peer pressure at that time in one's life; you'd think someone wouldn't have pointed it out to you.
I always assumed I was like my family. There were never any huge signs that pointed me in the direction to see that I was different. So there I was in history class, I still remember it clearly. Mrs. Graham, the best history teacher I remember having, passed out the test. It was not your standard test, but a test that analyzed who you were. It was the self-graded sort of test where you get so many points depending on how much you agree or disagree with about thirty or forty statements. A couple questions caused me to pause and think but all-in-all I believe I was one of the first finished.
"If you scored between 30 and 50 raise your hand," directed Mrs. Graham. Those in that range complied, then lowered their hands at her prompting. Mrs. Graham continued asking everyone to raise their hands for certain scores and the first few groups covered everyone in the class, except me. Then she went through several score ranges where no one raised their hand, until finally she asked if anyone scored higher. Not realizing what quality was evaluated by this test or how different I was, I raised my hand, solo and unashamed. Heck all my friends were in this class. They knew me; I had nothing to hide.
"This test," explained Mrs. Graham, "shows where you land on the political spectrum. The lower the score, the more to the left you fall in your political values. The higher the score the more to the right. Josh, you're about here." Everyone followed her finger as it slowly slid to the right side of the political spectrum poster above my desk, stopping just before edge of the board. Then they all looked at me in shock. I might as well of had leprosy. They wondered, as did I, how could this kid - black combat boots, black army surplus pants, black wax trax records t-shirt, even hair dyed black - this kid - be conservative?
It troubled me all the way home on the bus. Some things started to make sense, though, like how I always identified with Michael J. Fox's character on Family Ties.
This memory was just sparked a couple nights ago. The night before the election, my mom called. We talked for a long time, I tried to explain why I could not vote for Obama (see previous post) and why George Bush was not an idiot (I regularly get practice at this one at work). She then shared with me that when I was just a kid (I was born in 1970) I'd watch the hearing against Nixon instead of cartoons. She'd go about her chores around the house then come in and I'd explain what had been going on. I don't remember this, I'll have to take her word on it, but it helps explain some things.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Maybe if I write it out, I'll understand, but I cannot grasp the excitement for Obama as our next President. Don't get me wrong, I won't be whining for four years, "Well, he's not my president." I just can't get my head around how people sincerely believe it is governments role to provide for the underprivileged.

A pro-life guy myself, I understand that government must protect the oppressed and victims of injustice (Obama's support of partial birth abortion causes me to question if he's really concerned about victims of injustice). I get that much.

One clip on youtube had a lady saying that she is so excited about Obama being elected because she will not have to worry about paying her mortgage or putting gas in her car because he would help. What? People truly believe that is the role of government? There's no way. She has to be the exception.

She's not. Listening to people today at work, reading blogs, facebook statuses, etc, it's quite apparent that about 52% of us want government to take care of us. Not in the traditional national defense sense, but they want government to control gas prices, home prices; they want government to buy back all these bad loans, but want government to make sure banks keep lending to the folks they should not have been previously lending. Government has to make sure everyone has enough to eat, somewhere to sleep, that rich people share there money with those without; it needs to make sure everyone has health care.

Government is to make sure everyone plays nice in the sandbox; that everyone is treated fairly and that depends on who's definition of fair, because if you're a baby that miraculously survived an abortion, it's only fair for you to die, by their definition. But it is not fair to look at a suspected terrorists phone records. It's fair to compare our military to Hitler's stormtroopers while at the same time classifying terrorists as freedom fighters.

You know, besides the military (and that's most likely due to their training; maybe if all government employees had to experience similar training, I'd have a different opinion), I've not been all that impressed with the effectiveness or efficiency anything government has done. Just look at Fannie Mae, airport security, or the education system. Imagine what health care will look like run by the government.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Abortion and divorce. I've been put into the position to reflect on both lately.

It's one of those things you know, but it's hard to live out. Rick preached on Isaiah 40 Sunday. I was struck by the idea that the nations are as dust on the scales to God. Here I am about to go nuts over the election, and this nation is just dust. How much less important this election! Talk having your priorities screwed up.
Do not get me wrong. I know the right answers (sometimes) and kept telling myself, Hey, the next president will be of God's choosing, no matter how anxious I get over it. But then I'd just get anxious all over again.
Do you have a problem living as if God is truly sovereign? I know we say that God is sovereign all the time, especially in a reformed church like Eastside, but do we believe it?
God is sovereign, but what are we going to do if so-and-so gets elected?
God is sovereign, but what if the marriage amendment does not pass?
God is sovereign, but what about my marriage? Should I get I divorce? I'm tired of trying to hold it together.
God is sovereign, but look at the injustice so many in our town suffer.
God is sovereign, but __________________ (fill in the blank)
As soon as I say 'but' I place myself ahead of God. He is sovereign. The story is all about Him. It is not about me. And what an amazing fact that He has called us to be part of that story; not as characters, but as means to glorify Him. And, to steal from John Piper, God desires we enjoy Him by glorifying Him.
My marriage is not about what I can get out of it. It's not about what I have to put into it. It's not about Emily's or my shortcomings as parents, or as husband and wife. It's not even about our love for each other. My marriage is about glorifying God.
Not that I want everyone wearing bracelets like the WWJD craze (unless I get a cut), but what would it look like if we approached life asking how can I glorify God through this situation? through this project? through this conflict?
(an aside, I remember a story I once heard perhaps by my old pastor, Dan Hendley. Anyways, he was in a Christian book store and saw a cap with WWJD on it. He asked the clerk what it meant. 'What Would Jesus Do', she answered. To which he responded, 'I don't think He'd spend $15 on that hat.')
And in regard to abortion, I'll write more later.