Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Strange Team

This, my friends, may be the strangest duet since....well, ever. You decide.

The Little Drummer Boy

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States

This makes me wish we could find a new continent, go there as pilgrims, and start over again.

I just hope I'm on the Galactica when God sends the Cylons to attack us.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The BCS Stinks, Congress Says So

I read this and thought, "Is this really happening?" I mean, the BCS might be bad, but come on, should it be illegal? And also, I was just wondering if there weren't more important things to be worrying about right maybe that health care thing...or that war thing...or know?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Yeah, so the Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and I believe it because the Bible says it (Psalms 139:14). Be that as it may, I am very much looking forward to "Brad's Body 2.0". Let's start with the brain and go from there.

I have a few diplomas behind me on the wall that indicate that I ought to be very educated. I went to school for roughly 22 years. Play school, elementary school, middle school, high school, five years of college, 3 or 4 years of seminary, and then some extra classes on the side. That represents a lot of time, money, and study. And what do I have to show for it?

At one time I had almost 1,000 Hebrew vocuabulary words memorized. I could just nearly sight read Genesis in the original language, as well as John in the Greek. I could tell you the distant-open rule from memory, why the "noon" in "ntn" keeps popping off, spot a deponant verb from ten steps away, and my BDB was never more than an arm's reach away. Also, I used to be fairly conversational in Portuguese, could read French, get around in mod. Arabic and Hebrew, and do Algebra in my head.

N more friends, no more!! Where did all that stuff go? Last week, I chucked all my Hebrew vocab cards and started over. I have maybe 200 words left in the memory bank and I cannot remember why there is a yiqtol and a wayyiqtol. I can't remember if the Hiphil or the Hophal is causative. I can't recognize accusatives like I used to. And Arabic? Yeah. "Hoowah min Musr" is about all that's in there. As for Algebra, I had to stare at the word to make sure I spelled it right. *sigh*

So, my brain is a lousy thing really. I believe that if I had to option of remembering all that I have forgotten by paying with all I currently remember, it would probably be a nearly even trade.

If we move on from the brain to the body, it gets worse. I turned 35 the other day. In the grand scheme of things, that's fairly prime. I ran a half-marathon recently and competed in three triathalons. But I can assure you, I was much slower and it was far more painful than it was at 18. If I take a week off of training now...well, it is harder to get whipped back into shape. Suffice to say, this body is probably on the down-hill slide.

But these are mostly happy things if you aren't banking on stuff in this world. A forgetful brain and a body that will soon need propping up serve to remind me that this world stinks. Its dying. Death permeates it. This old tent I'm living in will be consumed one day and a new one will rise from its ashes. I will be given a perfect body. That one won't get tired, be forgetful, and best of all, beset with sin.

In the meantime, I'm still going to study. Study for God's glory honors God. And, I'm still going to swim, bike, run. I do that because I like it, and I do it because I believe it honors God. The body is a wonder; I do not deny that. I feel like a the body is sort of like your first car. Every red-blooded boy wants to see how the car he got performs. Just listen to a guy talk about his car. What kind of gas mileage does it get? Does it have a towing package? What kind of engine does it have? How fast..uhhh..will it get to the speed limit? I want to know that stuff about myself because this body is a gift from God. It's like He graciously tossed me the keys to this thing He made and said, "Why don't you take it for a spin?" Oh yeah, let's see what it will do. And then, as I have stuff my head with all that it can remember and as the body gasps after 13 miles I will think, "Yeah, and the Father has a new one waiting for me when I'm finished with this one."

Big Government Healthcare

I've been hanging out a bit over at Dan Phillip's Biblical Christianity, and the other day he posted this somewhat amusing I Guess I'm a Racist video. I thought it was somewhat amusing because, besides Jimmy Carter, nobody is saying that, right?

Well, I guess it isn't limited to Jimmy Carter. I saw this gem today by Senator Harry Reid. Basically, if you oppose big government healthcare you are a backwards Neanderthal on par with the goons who were pro-slavery. Yeah. I feel yucky now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Comatose? Maybe not...

This report is frightening on many different levels. May the Lord have mercy on those trapped in this condition and the people who minister to them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Winner

In case you didn't know, or have been living in Costa Rica for the past year or so, I had a run of fortuitous divine providence last year. As I was watching the Tour de France this year (Vive Le Tour!), I entered the Cadillac Ride of your life sweepstakes. I won first prize. Oh yeah. I won this sweet Cervelo S2 Bicycle you see pictured here. And yes, that's me in spandex. That's the Cervelo team jersey, and that's an autographed picture of Thor Hushvod I'm looking at. He's going to be my lead out man this year in the Tour de Albertville.

No, he's not, actually. He'll be busy riding a tour that pays more and against competition that can keep up with him for the most part. He could beat me on a unicycle.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

War Stories part 1

There is a reason why many veterans do not talk about the war. This commonality used to baffle me as a child. I wanted to hear the war stories. I wanted to hear about the glories of battles fought and won. It seemed like high adventure to me then, but no more.

Recently the History Channel remastered some World War II footage. They put these videos into HD. It was a great labor to find these videos; they scoured the earth for them for two years in preparation for the making of this documentary. Most of the footage seems to have been taken by the soldiers themselves. I find it interesting that we are allowed to look at what they found interesting. Each commercial break is followed by a disclaimer warning that we are about to see graphic images that might be disturbing.

Though they are "digitally re-mastered," the videos are still a bit grainy, but they are often graphic none-the-less. Sometimes, the soldiers simply filmed the off-loading of tanks or the unopposed landing of tanks off of ships. But sometimes, they filmed the aftermath of battle.

The first shocking graphic is the picture of the dead soldier. Flies buzz around the bloated corpses of GI's and Japanese soldiers. Their bodies are entangled in heaps. Their eyes stare upward blankly. Their mouths hang open. The bodies are ghastly and sometimes nearly unrecognizable as they lie strewn about the fields. The viewer is exempted from the smell of rot, and the feeling of what it must have been like to have caused that mess of death.

The second shocking graphic is only for those that pay attention to the faces of the living. In the footage of the fighting for Guadalcanal, we get a look at the bright faces of the arriving re-enforcements. They look young, brave, and happy, ready and willing to take the fight to the enemy. As the little hand-held camera passes from the new arrivals to the veterans, the difference in demeanor is obvious. Instead of looking young and spry they seem distant and tired. They are a grim lot. Men accustomed to the fatigues of malnourishment and grief. They look at the new arrivals with what appears to be a sense of bitterness and sorrow. Bitter that they have lost something of what the new arrivals have, and sorry for the fact that those new boys will soon lose it as well.

Some of the documentary follows the inglorious job of the battlefield surgeons and nurses as they try to save the living and comfort the dying. One nurse recounts a particular young man looking up and saying, "How am I doing?" She bent down, kissed his forehead and said, "You're doing fine." He smiled and said, "Just checking." Then he died. She went out and wept privately. She said they always cried privately. "Never in front of the boys," she said, "Never in front of the boys."

The reason that many men say so little about battle and war is because it is sickening. Over the thrill of victory hovers the specter of loss and horror; the day of triumph is darkened by the memory of the long march through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eventful Weekend

I got to run my very first half-marathon this Saturday. I am proud to say that it is Tuesday, and my knees have finally started bending again. Yeehoo!

Friday, November 06, 2009

The World Will Never Be Your Friend

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you...A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15:18,20).

In the previous post, we looked at what Jesus expects Christian friendship to look like. It is self-sacrificing, deliberate, and it perseveres. This passage is going to talk about the opposite of friendship: hateful opposition. This is, inevitably, the sort of treatment that every friend of Jesus will receive from the world.

First, if you are a Christian, you need to settle a very important fact in your heart: you will never be better than Jesus. That may seem very obvious, and most Christians would immediately protest that they would never even entertain such a notion. Yet, the truth of the matter is, we think that we are more clever than Jesus all the time. Here's how we do it.

Most of us like to get along with others. We want everyone to be our friend. We exert a great deal of energy being politically correct, choosing our words carefully so as not to offend, and generally avoiding conflict as if it were the mother of all sins. We are artists as pacifying and befriending others, often in harmful ways.

As Christians, we know that it is our duty to proclaim the gospel. We also know that, if we speak the gospel, it is going to bring conflict. If we present the gospel to an unbeliever, some nasty things are bound to come up in that conversation:

1. We actually believe that if the other person does not repent and believe in Jesus that they will die and go to hell.

2. We actually believe that they deserve hell.

3. We do not think that they are good people. We believe them to be wicked.

That's just to name a few of the potential deal-breakers if we are honest about what we believe. Jesus said things like this all the time. The Bible clearly teaches that man is sinful and that apart from the risen Savior, there is no hope at all. The Bible is clear about the reality of hell and it is equally clear that those who reject Jesus Christ deserve to go there. We know that. We believe that.

However, we believe that we may present these truths in such a way that the world will still like us. And if we believe that, if we try to fool ourselves with that notion, then we are really saying that we are better than Jesus.

Let me be crystal clear, Jesus Christ was the friendliest, wittiest, sincerest, cleverest man to ever walk the face of the other. He also happens to be the greatest preacher in the history of the world. He was also a divinely gifted healer. Jesus caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, and he cleansed people riddled with deadly disease. You and I cannot do anything better than Jesus. And what did the world do to Jesus? They murdered him because they hated his guts.

So please, let's dispel the silly notion once and for all that we may somehow coddle wicked worldlings into liking us to the point that they won't be mad when we tell them that they must repent and believe in Jesus. Here's what Jesus said:

1. The world hated me.
2. If you are my friend, the world will hate you too.
3. You are not better than me. If the world hated me, it will hate you.

If your church is presently scheming to plan services to make lost people feel comfortable in the service, they have to betray Jesus to do it. Period. You can make people feel welcome, and you should. You can fluff them a pillow, give them a nice footstool, let them sit in a Lazy-Boy during the service, and you can even make them nice lattes for the service. No matter how kind you are, if your pastor stands up like a man after God's own heart and preaches the gospel, worldlings will spew their lattes at you and leave unless the Spirit of God does a miracle in their hearts. It's sad but true. We don't want them to react that way. We grieve that they react that way. But they do, and they will. Every single time.

For clarity's sake let me say that just because the world is hateful, that does not give us cause to be hateful. We were all once worldlings. We were all once lost and spiteful to Christians and Jesus. Our proper response is grief, long-suffering, patience, cheek-turning, and above all, prayer. Prayer that God will open eyes, ears, and hearts to the gospel for the glory of Jesus Christ. That was the response of Jesus, and it is to be our response as well.

Put to death the notion that you will be more clever than Jesus by getting the world to be your friend. If you do, you are a compromiser.

James said it this way, "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4). James really knew how to coddle people, didn't he? Here's one from Paul, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). That little word there translated "all" is the Greek word pantes. It literally means, "all". Which is exactly how it translated in every translation I've ever seen. And "all" means you, beloved. It means you and I will be persecuted if we are the friend of Jesus because the world will hate us like it hated him. If the world doesn't hate you, it is because you are acting like it and they can't tell you are Jesus' friend. You people pleaser! You are fooling around with the enemy and betraying your best friend to make friends with wickedness. It's despicable behavior unbecoming a follower of Jesus and you should repent immediately.

I don't know what else to say about that. I confess that I'm given to wimpiness in the face of the world. So pray for me for boldness. I didn't say a thing here that didn't convict me; I write as the chief of sinners.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Type of Friendship Jesus Expects

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

There is much wonder in this verse. There is wonder here because Jesus goes on to say, "You are my friends if you do what I command you." That is the sort of thing that ought to make the Christian stop and think. The long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God and Co-Creator of the Universe calls those who love him "friend." Jesus is, indeed, my friend. And he is your friend as well if you do as he commands.

Paul points out the sort of friendship that Jesus displayed towards us in another familiar verse, "For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that m while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:7-8). Isn't this the train of thought that we normally take as we think of John 15:13? That Jesus is the great friend of sinners? This is, obviously, a profound truth, a wonderful truth, a truth worth meditating on. I believe it to be so profound that, if we are not careful, it will divert us from the point that Jesus is making.

Jesus wants us to know about friendship, not only with himself, but our friendships with one another. A closer look at John 15:12-17 will reveal that it is precisely our friendships with one another as believers that Jesus is emphasizing.

We are so sin-sick that we do not know how to love properly, or serve properly, or even be the type of friend that we ought to be. So here, in John 15:12-17, Jesus is saying, "I want you to love each other. I want you to be friends. And this is how I'm going to show you what it means to be a true friend: I'm going to lay down my life for you. I'm going to die for you. Now, you do the same."

In this passage, Jesus is not simply telling us how much he loves us, though he is certainly saying that. Follow Jesus' words carefully. He says, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." See that? That is the command. Love one another as I loved you! And how did he love us? He died for his friends. So let's connect the dots: Jesus commands us to love one another as he loved us. Then, he illustrates how he loves us by saying he laid down his life for us. Finally, he says that if we want to be his friend, we must do as he commands. And what is the immediate command in this context? Love each other to the point of death.

This is Christian friendship. We are to love each other fiercely, even to the point of death for each other. It is no wonder, then, that Jesus could say, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). Christian love is a death-defying love, sin-defying love.

By sin-defying I mean this: Christian friendship does not keep a record of wrongs. In other words, we love on as friends in the face of sin. We defy sin to separate us from the ones we love. I do not mean that sin can never be a fellowship breaker. What I mean is that a brother or sister who sins against us does not immediately become a castaway. I mean that it is sin-defying in the way Paul meant it when he said, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). It means that our friendship towards others is greatest when they deserve our friendship the least. A Christian friend turns the other cheek. A Christian friend overlooks slights. A Christian friend is never petty. A Christian friend does not abandon. A Christian friend forgives seventy times seven. A Christian friend is the first to apologize. A Christian friend is slow to anger and quick to reconcile.

Have petty troubles separated you from a Christian brother or sister? Are you always ready to reconcile? Do you believe the best of your friends intentions instead of assuming the worst? Christian friendship is not optional; it is commanded. Our first impulse when reading John 15:13 is correct if we meditate on the unfathomable, gracious friendship Christ Jesus has shown us. But our meditation fails if it does not lead us to action in loving others.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).

Monday, November 02, 2009

I Need to Hear that One Again

On Sunday mornings, I have been preaching through the gospel of John. The last few sermons, at least the preparation for them, have been particularly convicting and beneficial to me. I thought it might be helpful for me, and hopefully for others, for me to go through some of the things that have really been rolling around in my heart and challenging me. And, by the way, when I say that the Scripture has been "challenging" me, that is code for "I am a sinful person and I cannot do what this passage teaches. I am undone. Lord have mercy."

The next few posts, then, will be dedicated to having another go at parts of John 15 and 16, and I'll share with you what's been shaming me about myself. Because, and here's the punchline, it is embarrassing to get up and tell others to do things that you don't do yourself, have no power to do yourself, but really hope that the Holy Spirit will bring it to pass that you will be such a person as the Scripture describes. I live in that hope.

To that end, I'm going to go over these passages again and pray that the Spirit will conform me to the image of Jesus Christ. I hope this is helpful for you. I know it will be for me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween?

Yeah, so I am just getting over a stomach virus, and my son was up every thirty minutes vomiting last night. You could have set your watch to it. So, it looks like we all died and turned to zombies over here for Halloween. Don't come over to our house...there be monsters here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Fell Off the Blogger Wagon

Okay, people. Is there anyone still checking this place? I am considering becoming a blogger again. I miss it.


The Management

Monday, March 09, 2009

Human Cloning and Stem Cell Research

Today, President Obama over-turned President Bush's policy on the federal funding of stem cell research. You can read about it here. Now, I have no trouble mounting an ethical argument against the destruction of embryos to get stem cells. Once you believe that human life begins at conception, then the argument is easy to make. We have been irresponsible in our quest for reproduction, resulting in 'extra' embryos. Frankly, science has far outstripped our ethics in this category.

What strikes me as odd is how vehemently President Obama comes down against human cloning. In his speech he says, "And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society." I find this bizarre. I am personally unable to come up with why it is unethical to clone human beings if it is perfectly fine to destroy embryos to obtain stem cells.

Indeed, the only reason I find cloning repugnant is because it is creepy. It has nothing to do with ethics at all. The only reason I cannot condone cloning ethically is because the technology is so primitive, perhaps, that attempting this might lead to the horrible disfiguration of cloned infants or something of that nature. But cloning itself is a naturally occuring event. Identical twins share the same DNA.

This sort of logical inconsistentcy boggles my mind. I need help in understanding why the "majority" of Americans think it is morally permissible to destroy embryos, but it is ethically repugnant to clone humans. I believe it means that Americans are not being rational, but rather, we are simply guided by pragmatics and gut feelings.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Joy of the Catechism

I grieve over the fact that many Baptists are unaware of the fact that Baptists have a catechism. When I mention to people that we have 'catechism' for children on Wednesday nights, I usually get a blank stare or a raised eyebrow. This is a tragedy! I tell the truth when I say that there are few things in this life that give me greater joy than hearing my son saying his catechism. He is four years old, and these are some of the truths he has learned so far:

1. Who made you?

God made me.

2. What else did God make?

God made all things.

3. Why did God make you and all things?

For His own glory.

4. How can you glorify God?

By loving Him and doing what He commands.

5. Why are you to glorify God?

Because he made me and takes care of me.

6. Is there more than one true God?

No. There is only one true God.

7. In how many Persons does this one God exist?

In three persons.

17. How did God create man?

God created man, male and female, after His own image.

So far, my son has committed 22 of these questions to memory. Every night before he goes to bed and before we pray, we go over these questions and answers. If I get in a hurry to tuck him in, he will hold up a finger and say, "Wait Papa. We have to say the catechism." I love it. What a magnificent discipleship tool for our children. How, oh how, did Baptists let it fall by the way-side?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

All Things?

I haven't lived up to my promise to post more, mostly because I spent this weekend sick, sick, sick. I had, I believe, some sort of 24 hour virus sent by an emissary of Satan to be a thorn in my flesh. I did not preach Sunday morning for the first time ever due to illness.

As my cheek rested upon the cool, comforting porcelain that is my toilet in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the thought that honestly kept running through my mind was, "God has ordained this for my good. Wow. This is interesting." This thought made me feel spiritual, and it helped me get through the night. I thanked the Lord that in the mysteries of His providence, He decided that I should have the throw-up sickness for a little while accompanied with "other end" problems as well.

So, as I crawled back to bad, really glad that God had let me go through this for my sanctification, I began to wonder what ways this would work itself out for my good and His glory. I then realized that I would have to call Drew early Saturday morning, that is, the normal early Saturday morning not the "it's barely Saturday morning" time I was referring to earlier, and tell him he needed to get ready to preach because God might be pleased to finish killing me by Sunday. Then I thought, maybe this is it, maybe God wanted Drew to preach and that's why I'm so sick. Then I thought...hmmm...maybe I could just let Drew preach more and avoid the sick part.

I have no idea why it pleased God to let me get the virus of sickness. But I am thankful for it. We'll see in eternity why it was good for me to be laid low. I look forward to it.

By the way, I'm serious.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brad Williams: Professor of Ethics

Because the local Junior College was probably desperate for a teacher, I find myself teaching an ethics class as an adjunct professor. It is mostly a situational ethics class, concentrating on how to be ethical in society. Since this classroom setting is not the local church, I am stuck in the awkward position of being unable to preach. Which, by the way, is harder than you might think.

For example, we have dealt with the issue of honesty. Would you tell on someone if you knew that they were having an affair? Would you use answers to the SAT/ACT test if you could acquire them beforehand? If you found out that a thirty year old married man was involved in a relationship with a fifteen year old girl, would you contact the police? The wife? The parents?

Even more basically, we have to ask why we "feel" that cheating is wrong. Who says it is wrong? Why is it wrong? Why is it that we cannot agree on the proper course of action? Why will some say, adamantly, that we should go to the authorities while other strongly urge folks to mind their own business? Should the majority be able to impose it's will on the minority? Sometimes? Always? How do we know when to impose our own will on others?

My purpose as a teacher in this setting is to teach the students how to think logically through difficult moral dilemmas. At the same time, I often purposefully upset the worldview of students so that they may try to discover what, if anything, is at the bottom of their personal ethical code. This unsettling process is like stirring muddy waters. What often appeared clear at the beginning seems terribly muddled by the end of the day.

Currently, I feel that my job at this instituition is to stir the waters, to upset the apple cart. My grief comes in that the fact that I believe, without the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no getting those apples back into the cart. The joy of kicking of the apple cart is significantly lessened if one is not allowed to give a great deal of help in clean-up. Sometimes, it simply feels mean to leave a student in the morass of ethical dilemma.

All this to say, I find my current positions potential for joy limited by my inability to pronounce: THUS SAITH THE LORD! I have to be tactful, and I have to believe that if the Lord would open the door for me to go about upsetting apple carts, then He means to use the mess I make for His glory and for the good of those who love Him. May the Lord clean up the mess I make, as always!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Have a Blog?!

Okay, I almost forgot I had a blog. You probably almost forgot I had a blog since I haven't posted a thing in forever. I will do that soon. Like tomorrow. Something fantastic I'm sure.