Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mothers Day, Veitnam Tom, and a Graduation Party

This past sunday was busy for us. After church Julie and I drove up to Hampton to have lunch and see Nana and Papa Knerr who were in town visiting. It was great to see them again and in such good spirits!

Of course, Julie and I had to stop at the Bass Pro shop and get our picture taken, calling Tim Jordan to remind him that the last time I was in a Bass Pro shop, he was getting married . . . did that sound right?

Many thanks to the bears at Bass Pro, they were surprisingly congenial.

Call me "Veitnam Tom" . . . I never thought I would be wearing one of these again so soon after that fateful day when Suin Pea ratted out our detail.

Any way, after the Bass Pro, Julie and I were plumb tuckered out, so we went home to prepare for the graduation party we were hosting for Dawn and Nate Mihelis and Scott Logan. Nate graduated this spring with his MDiv; he won the Greek Award for highest cumulative GPA in that lanuage and he won the Servant Leadership award. Congratulations Nate! Dawn was graduating from a job she has hated for the past 4 years to being a stay at home mom of their son, Noah. Scott stopped off on his way to getting his MDiv to get an MBS, with honors. He is going to complete the full MDiv, but having this degree will give him more credibility in the mean time, and ultimately more earning power in the ministry . . . yeah right. Congratulations to the graduates, we all look forward to seeing God's grace use you to further the Kingdom.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Walk For Life, 2006

Those of you who read this probably knew Julie and I were doing the Walk for Life for our local Crisis Pregnancy Center . . . you probably knew this because we were calling you asking for donations. This year, I assigned the CPC Walk for Life as the extra credit for those needing a "boost" in my theology class. Many of them participated and we, as a group, were able to raise (the total figures aren't in yet) approximately 3,000 dollars for our local CPC!

Last year there were over 9,000 abortions in the Hampton Roads area alone; however, the local CPC has an 83% success rate in terms of convincing mothers of unwanted pregnancies to look to other solutions outside of abortion, and this is to say nothing of the many women who hear and receive the gospel because of the CPC.

I want to say a big "thank you," to all the students involved and especially to those students who went beyond the requirement for the grade, to raise some extra money for a great ministry, and to those who supported me and Julie. Thank You!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

3 Reasons Why "Your Best Life Now" Is No Gospel At All

God knows that I am loathe to turn my family blog into a forum for theological discussion, but those of you who frequent here, like myself, love the gospel because in it God's message of grace is fully disclosed, and has liberated us to a life free of guilt and full of mercy. Because of this grace, we have learned to love the message of Jesus' substitutionary death for our sin and life for our righteousness; therefore, we want the gospel preached -- there is no substitute.

This morning on the Today Show I watched an interview between Katie Couric and Joel Osteen, a man who is being shoved more and more into the lime-light of Christian Evangelicalism. They were discussing Osteen's new book set to come out next year. His first book, Your Best Life Now, grossed millions and was # 1 on the NY Times Bestseller list.

I am concerned, however, when Osteen's view of life begins to become the face of Evangelical Christianity in America, because I think, with good intentions, and perhaps without knowing it, he is pulling a bait and switch -- he uses the term "gospel" to draw Evangelicals (and he does by the thousands each Sunday), but when the people sit down they hear "7 Steps for Living at Your Full Potential." This post is not aimed at Osteen's book, per se, it is aimed at the differences between the meaning of the gospel and "Your Best Life Now." Again, so I am not understood, people ought to live good lives, but living a good life should never be confused with the gospel. The following are 3 reasons (we could list many more) why we cannot allow this to happen.

1. The Gospel begins as a message of human hopelessness, whereas "Living at Your Full Potential" is humanly optimistic. I think it is imperative to understand, that true happiness in the gospel begins with a humiliating observation -- human nature is incapable of, unwilling to, and unrepentant about change. The gospel consists of the recognition that "without me, you can do nothing;" but the message of Full Potential begins, "you can be anything you put your mind to."

2. The Gospel is a message about receiving, but the message of Full Potential is a message about getting. What is the difference? Simply this, the gift of God vs. the work of man. Again, a good life requires hard work, but a good life is not the gospel because the gospel is about receiving grace (Eph. 2:8-10), and grace cannot be "gotten" by the means of a good life.

3. The Gospel rests on the obedient life of Jesus, while the message of Full Potential rests on the obedience of man. I will post more on this doctrine later, as I believe it to be the most liberating doctrine in Scripture, but allow me to say now that we must return to a focus on the work of Christ. The Scripture teaches that God looks favorably on me, and considers me to be righteous, holy, justified, sanctified and blameless because Jesus was perfectly obedient to his will (Rom. 8:1-4; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:3-7). The obedience of Jesus stands as my obedience -- because Jesus was perfectly holy, God considers me perfectly holy.

But the message of Full Potential is not about dependence on the obedience of Jesus' righteousness as our sufficiency before a holy, demanding, righteous God. Instead, it is about performance. The gospel is about performance, make no mistake, but the glory of the gospel is that it is not about my performance -- it was about Jesus' performance on my helpless behalf.

Friends, let us keep the gospel the gospel and keep self-help, self-help; let us accept no substitutes for the message of the gospel, because self-help is not "the power of God to all who believe," nor is it the "wisdom of God." It is not in the message of Full Potential that "the righteousness that comes from God is revealed from faith to faith," but only in the good news of Jesus's substitutionary life and death -- the message of the gospel. If the message doesn't end with "my every hope rests on what Christ has done," its just not the same.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Whats on my iPod

Check it out over at Luther's Stein.

She Is Worth Far More Than Rubies

You will have to pardon, for a moment, my unblushing praise of my parents. This is because at the end of last month, when Julie and I received an unexpected blow finding out that we owed money to the IRS (though we filed zero on our exemptions, bought a house, and carried a school bill all year long), my wife immediately picked up the phone, dialed the restaraunt she waitressed at in the summer, and asked if she could work 3 nights a week in order to make up the difference.

Those of you who know Julie are likely not surprised that she would take on something like this. Now please understand, I am not writing this primarily to boast in Julie, though I would not be wrong to do so, but I am writing to boast, primarily, in my parents. I remember when I was in high school, and how my dating relationship was a constant "on-again-off-again." During those times both my mom and dad would constantly encourage me to look for those qualities in Julie which are most noble and worthy of love. My mother would constantly point to Julie's servanthood and diligence as excellent qualities for a spouse. Strangely, as a teenager, work-ethic and servant-hood were not the most exciting qualities to look for in a wife.

Yet when Julie made that call this past month, I all at once understood what Mom and Dad meant -- how can you express the value of a woman whose love for her family drives her to serve them at expense of her own time and energy? She is worth far more than rubies!

Monday, May 01, 2006


I just finished my Theological German Exam -- we translated a selection from Deitrich Bonhoeffer -- I am officially finished with my work for the semester! I couldn't be happier to be finished. I have an entire month before my next class (this summer I will be taking 3 classes, 6 credits), which means I can read what I want to read!

I will probably spend the month attempting to complete my notes for my Theology class. I still have 2 whole doctrines left to write, so there is a lot of work to be done.