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December 2006

December 31, 2006

King for a Week is an honor I bestow on blogs that I feel are making a valuable contribution to my faith and the faith of other believers. Every week (in reality it actually tends to be every second week) I select a blog, link to it from my site, and add that site’s most recent headlines to my left sidebar. While this is really not much, I do feel that it allows me to encourage and support other bloggers while making my readers aware of other good sites.

This week’s recipient of the award is titus2talk, a fairly new blog, having made its first appearance in September of this year, and one that originates on the other side of the Atlantic. Though the blog is young, the contributors have already invested a good deal of effort in it and are crafting a site that will surely make a unique contribution to the Christian blogosphere. The site is targeted specifically at women, but there is no reason a guy can’t browse it every now and again as well.

“Maybe you’re wondering what our titus2talk blog is all about? Titus 2:3-5 [‘Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.’] provides us with some of the things which we, as women aspire to and seek to encourage all women to. Whether you are younger or older, single or married, busy at home or in the workplace, we invite you to share with us as we look to discover and recover God’s identity for us as women. So join us as we enter into discussion on biblical womanhood & other fun stuff. View our posts, consider the books we like, read our reviews, listen in on sermons and talks we’ve found helpful, & enjoy!”

In the coming days you will be able to see the most recent headlines from this blog in the sidebar of my site. I hope you will make your way over the site and look around.

I continue to accept nominations for King of the Week. If you have a site you would like to nominate, feel free to do so. Thanks to those of you who nominated this week’s honoree.

December 30, 2006

“Saddam Hussein, among the world’s most brutal dictators, struggled briefly after American military guards handed him over to Iraqi executioners. But as his final moments approached, he grew calm. Dressed in a black coat and trousers, he clutched a Qur’an as he was led to the gallows, and in one final moment of defiance, refused to have a hood pulled over his head.

After a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran, Saddam was executed before sunrise Saturday.” (link)

I sat almost transfixed last night, waiting for the news to be released—news that Saddam Hussein had finally been executed. I was struck by the thought that it is easy to see men like Hussein as somehow more than human. Or maybe less than human. It is interesting to watch the video footage taken shortly after his capture by U.S. forces. A doctor is poking and prodding him, peering into his mouth and looking through his hair. His beard is long and untrimmed, his hair wild and askew. And then there is the footage of him being led to the gallows (footage that is available at any major news web site). It is easy to feel a bit of sympathy watching another human being forced to his death. Suddenly this tyrant appears so human, so frail.

It is difficult to know how to react to something like this. How is a Christian to react to the death of a man such as Hussein? As I thought about this, it seems that we have cause both to mourn and to rejoice.

We can rejoice in the fact that justice has been done. Hussein’s atrocities are horrendous (you can read a list of them here) and impacted countless millions. He made a mockery of the position of power he was given. The Bible tells us that it is God who assigns leaders to the nations and Hussein violated the position of authority, using it to enrich himself, to enslave others, and to reign with brutal terror. The moniker “the Butcher of Baghdad” was well-earned.

We can also rejoice in mercy. It is in mercy that God has given the power of the sword to governments so they can act in restraining evil. These governments are charged with punishing those who do wrong so they can restrain further acts of sin and violence and so they can bring to justice those who have forsaken the laws of God seen dimly in the laws of the lands.’

We can rejoice in God’s goodness. It was God’s goodness that allowed a new government to take the place of Hussein’s and to bring an end to his reign of terror. And it was justice that caused them to end his life. God’s justice is never in conflict with His goodness. Tozer says, “To think of God as we sometimes think of a court where a kindly judge, compelled by law, sentences a man to death with tears and apologies, is to think in a manner wholly unworthy of the true God. God is never at cross-purposes with Himself. No attribute of God in in conflict with another.” To rejoice in the death of Saddam Hussein, to rejoice in the execution of justice, is to rejoice in the justice of God, the goodness of God and the mercy of God. When the Iraqi authorities, having weighed the evidence and proven that Hussein was guilty of crimes deserving death, brought an end to Hussein’s life, they imitated God in these attributes (though they surely had no idea they were doing so).

And so we can rejoice in the execution of this tyrant. We can rejoice that justice has been done. At the same time, we must not rejoice wrongly. We must take no wrongful pleasure in the death of another person. Death is an unnatural state for humans and one that should always remind us of our state of fallenness. Were it not for our sin there would be no death. And always we must remember that the sin that filled Hussein is the same sin which lives within all of us. Were it not for the restraining hand of God, were it not for His grace, any of us could commit acts equally horrific.

We must never make light of the fact that Hussein is, in all likelihood, in hell now. And, as difficult as this may be to believe, all the pain and torture and devastation Hussein caused in his life, either directly or indirectly, is as nothing compared to what he is experiencing now and what he will experience for all of eternity. We must never, ever make light of hell as the eternal destination of any man.

Hussein’s death is a testament to the depravity of humans, but it is also a testament to the justice, mercy and goodness of God. It is a time to mourn at the state of mankind, but also to marvel at the power and sovereignty of God.

December 29, 2006

Here are two prayer requests that have come to me via the blogosphere.

Rick Phillips at the Reformation 21 blog asks for prayer for Dr. D. James Kennedy.

Please pray for Dr. D. James Kennedy, his wife and daughter, and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Dr. Kennedy is in grave condition following a heart attack last evening.

Jim’s health has deteriorated markedly in the last several months, and he has manfully continued his ministry to the best of his ability. During all my interactions with him even during this trying time, he has exhibited his characteristic good cheer, charm, and force of mind. Along with being a man with great vision for the kingdom of Christ, Jim Kennedy is a true Christian gentleman. Please pray for God to restore him to full health and give him grace as his situation should require.

And from Albert Mohler’s blog comes another request:

Dr. Albert Mohler is recovering at Louisville’s Baptist East hospital following abdominal surgery. Dr. Mohler was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday after experiencing abdominal pain. During a three-hour procedure, surgeons removed scar tissue from a 1980s operation. Dr. Mohler is expected to be released from the hospital next week and will continue his recovery at home. Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology and Senior VP for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will host The Albert Mohler radio program until he is able to return to the air. Dr. Mohler’s blog and commentary posts will resume as soon as he is able. Please join the Southern Seminary community in praying for Dr. Mohler’s quick and total recovery.
December 29, 2006

Ping! That’s the sound of a pin dropping in the blogosphere. My RSS reader has been awfully quiet this week as I suppose the majority of bloggers are taking a break from the usual commitments. Good for them! Most people outside of the retail world are doing little if any work this week, and those of my friends and family who are working keep mentioning that they seem to be the only ones in their offices this week. I’ve been doing a little bit of work but have primarily been focusing on writing my book (that March 1 deadline is, after all, fast approaching!). According to my site statistics, traffic has fallen off by almost 50% this week, which I believe is quite typical for late December. So if you are a blogger and have something particularly profound you’d like to share, you may want to consider waiting until next week! I have been a bit lazy this week as well, trying to take a bit of a break from my usual quantity of reading and blog-writing.

I did pause from my writing yesterday to take the children to see Charlotte’s Web. We just finished reading the book and decided to take in the movie as well. It was excellent and, unusually as these things go, was mostly faithful to the book (which is good since the book is just wonderful). Beyond a bit of attitude from children to parents, there was nothing in the film to feel guilty about seeing. I give it two thumbs up!

Bargains

I do not do much of my online buying at Christian Book Distributors, but I do keep an eye out for their sales. They often have great sales on sets of commentaries and theological volumes that are otherwise almost unaffordable. Today I noted a few excellent deals.

If you are interested in filling out your library a little bit, they are having a great sale on the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament which is a ten volume set that examines more than 2300 theologically significant words in the New Testament. Listed at $700, it is currently selling for only $99. They also have Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, 10 Volumes: Updated Edition with CD-ROM for $69.99 (this is a good, general set of Old Testament commentaries) and Calvin’s Commentaries in 22 volumes for $99.99. Also, though I linked to this one a short time ago, they are still offering an excellent deal on Schaff’s
History of the Christian Church
($49.99 for the 8 volume set).

Children’s Books

As I mentioned earlier, I recently finished reading Charlotte’s Web with my kids and they really enjoyed it. We’ve also read Stuart Little, the Little House on the Prairie series, The Black Stallion, The Littles, Lost in the Barrens and quite a few other classics (and favorites from my childhood or my wife’s childhood). A couple of days ago I ordered another stack of books to read for them. I got The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Borrowers, The Incredible Journey, Big Red, the next in the Black Stallion series, and a couple of children’s history books (a biography of Abraham Lincoln and a history of the battle of Bull Run). While I read to both my son (age 6) and my daughter (age 4), my son is much more fond of the books and listens much better, so for the time being I read primarily for his benefit. I’d be very interested in suggestions from other parents for books that would be suitable for young children. We love to read together and work our way through books quite quickly, so I’m anticipating needing quite a few more titles in the years ahead.

And now, I’m heading back to Microsoft Word to do more work on my book. Have a good weekend. I hope to return to regularly-scheduled programming next week!

December 29, 2006

Friday December 29, 2006

Politics: Angry in the Great White North has unearthed a terrible scandal involving Canada’s Prime Minister.

Du Jour: Dan Phillips has a touching post on “Four faces: gaining perspective for the new year.”

Video: Recover the Gospel is an attempt to collect some of the best video resources available at YouTube and Google Video.

History: Two days from now the U.K. will give the U.S.$83 million, finally paying off their World War II debt. The history of this is quite interesting. An older article at BBC has details.

Books: BibleRhymes tells the stories of the Bibles in rhymes and illustrations.

December 28, 2006

The Eden String Quartet is a quartet composed of four members of the Miller family of Oakland, Illinois and a new DVD by Franklin Springs Media tells their story. Krista Miller and Megan Miller Goff play the violin, Therese Miller the viola and Leah Miller the cello. Having played for many years and having received training from highly qualified instructors, they play exceptionally well. The DVD combines documentary segments with a live concert.

Songs the quartet plays include classical compositions by Mozart, Bach, Pachelbel and Vivaldi as well as a selection of hymns such as “Amazing Grace,” “Come Thou Fount,” “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” and “Before the Throne of God Above” (which, in my opinion, is done beautifully and which sounds simply stunning when played by a string quartet).

As with previous Franklin Springs Media productions, this one is of professional quality and is exceptionally well made. The audio and video quality are both top-notch. And, like other Franklin Springs productions, this one celebrates a godly family and, not surprisingly, one that chooses to homeschool their children and is eager to defend their decision to the cameras! The Miller family does seem to exemplify many godly qualities and has raised their children to honor the Lord and to love their fellow man. I have little doubt that this DVD can serve as encouragement to others as they witness the faithfulness of this remarkable family.

It should be noted that while the DVD claims to include extras, the only true extra or bonus feature is a slideshow of photographs taken during production of the film. The other features, though helpful, are simply the ability to have all the documentary segments play without the music segments or all the music segments without the documentary.

You can read more about the DVD or watch a trailer here, read more about the quartet here and keep up with the family through their blog here.

You may also be interested in these other Franklin Springs Media productions I have reviewed: The Peasall Sister - Family Harmony and A Journey Home.

December 28, 2006

Thursday December 28, 2006

Conference: If you’re interested in going on the Alpha & Omega conference / cruise next year, act now to get the good rates. All you need is a refundable $50 deposit. James White has more. I’m planning on being part of this one!

Books: Solid Ground Books is having an inventory reduction sale and there are some great deals to be had.

Technology: Google has released a list of the most popular search terms in 2006. This doesn’t make our society look too good!

Weird: Some guy in a Nebraska jail caused a stink that led to a brawl. Read more here.

December 27, 2006

Those with an interest in the theology of Scripture may be intrigued by a book published this year by New York University Press.

“All religious traditions that ground themselves in texts must grapple with certain questions concerning the texts’ authority. Yet there has been much debate within Christianity concerning the nature of scripture and how it should be understood—a debate that has gone on for centuries. Christian Theologies of Scripture traces what the theological giants, including Origen, Luther, and Barth, have said about scripture from the early days of Christianity until today. It incorporates diverse discussions about the nature of scripture, its authority, and its interpretation, providing a guide to the variety of views about the Bible throughout the Christian tradition.”

Edited by Justin Holcomb, a lecturer in Religious Studies and Sociology at the University of Virginia, and a lecturer in theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, the book includes contributions by eighteen experts. Justin also blogs at Common Grounds Online.