The Plowman

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One Last Move – Well, Let’s Hope So.

Yes, it’s true. After only a few weeks I’m moving The Plowman. I am still with WordPress, but in order to consolidate server space and one, maybe two podcasts, The Plowman will be located at theplowman.org. Please redirect your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly – all four of you. :-0

February 11, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pharaoh and Blogging

“The Pharaoh behind the Pharaoh” is a phrase that has captivated my mind for the past week. I heard it used by Dr. Russell Moore in a chapel service at Southern seminary in which he spoke a week ago Thursday (February 1st), in which he was alluding the fact that Pharaoh, the mightiest man in that whole region at that time, nonetheless had a Pharaoh ruling over him. I don’t remember ever hearing Satan referred to in this fashion. When Dr. Moore first used this phrase in the message he quickly moved to the account of Satan entering Judas just prior to his betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Luke 22:3, Matthew 26:15). Later in the week I was thinking of Jesus’ declaration to the Pharisees that their father was the devil by virtue of the fact that they obeyed him rather than God (John 8:44).

We should remind ourselves often that we are not our own. Whether we be a pauper or a Pharaoh, we still have a Pharaoh over us. The question then that begs to be answered is “Who is your Pharaoh?” Is it the one who would require us to make bricks without straw, or is it the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who bids us come unto Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Matthew 11:29,30)? Based on who we listen to and follow, whose sheep are we (John 10:27)?

On a different note, another little feature in Dr. Moore’s message caught my attention as well. Just as Alfred Hitchcock made a habit of appearing in a cameo role in all of the movies he made, it appears that Dr. Moore recently has begun leaving a “signature” reference in his sermons and other academic addresses. I have heard similar references in the last couple of addresses I have heard him give. Here is an example from Dr. Moore’s February 2nd 1st chapel message:

“The problem here is that Egypt doesn’t know the difference between a blessing and a curse, but the real issue here is that neither does Israel. When Israel is brought into the wilderness, they start grumbling, they start griping, they start blogging about it.”

Let’s see if this continues, and if it does, in what ways it manifests itself. It should be fun. It’s nice to be noticed, if not individually, at least corporately. I’m sure a whole lot of cyber-complaining goes on, even among Christians, but if you would like to see what else bloggers do go here, here, and here.

February 11, 2007 Posted by | blogging, preaching | Leave a comment

Screwtape Letter #10

<i>My Dear Wormwood,</i>
My Dear Wormwood,

(Editor’s note: These posts on the Screwtape Letters are the result of the high-school Sunday school class that my wife and I teach at Trinity Baptist church, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If any of this material would be useful to anyone for a similar purpose, please feel free to use it, modifying it in any way you feel necessary. If you have any suggestions, comments, or observations, I invite you to please post them here. These posts are comprised of study and preparation on my part before class, with discussion that occurred during the class being added afterwords. This is a work in progress, looking for any honest and sincere help you might offer.)

Vocabulary:
belittling: the act of making someone seem unimportant
vanity: pride in one’s own achievements
exploiting: to make full use of something
urbane: of a person being well refined, well mannered and courteous
mammon: riches, in the sense that it is regarded as an object of worship
bawdy: dealing with sexual matters in a comical way
blasphemy: speaking irreverently or without proper respect in matters relating to God.
priggish: self-righteous, moralistic, holier-than-thou

Lesson:

I was delighted to hear from Triptweeze that your patient has made some very desirable new acquaintances and that you seem to have used this event in a really promising manner.

Very desirable, indeed! Obviously Screwtape doesn’t have the patient’s best interest at heart in this opening statement to letter 10. In this letter we find some of the pitfalls of having non-Christian friends. How is a Christian suppose to navigate in this fallen world? We are told by our Lord to be salt and light (Matthew 5:14-16), and to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We are also commanded to keep ourselves unstained by the world (James 1:27), and not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). How can we have contact without contamination? After all, we are told that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).

What we have here is a tight-rope act, a walking on the razor’s edge. If we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, then we should long to tell our fellow man about our God and Savior. So how do you befriend those lost whom you work with, go to school with, live next door to? In the course of class discussion, we looked at the following passages:

  • Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV). First of all, we need to be concerned primarily with what God thinks, not man.
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16, ESV). In this passage we learn that we must both study the Bible, so that it will dwell richly; and we must share it freely with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14,15, ESV). We must persevere in the faith, using God’s word to remind us of what we believe, the truth of the Gospel.
  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2, ESV). The battle is ever and always in the head and the heart. We must, by constant vigilance, strive to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV). Our purpose while here on earth is to reflect the glory of God in our lives. This means living a careful life for Him, not because it saves us, but because we have been saved and redeemed from every lawless deed (Titus 2:14).

Other passages: 1 Timothy 4, 1 Corinthians 15, the Proverbs.

<i>Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape</i>
Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape

February 9, 2007 Posted by | Sunday School | Leave a comment

Net Finney is Funny

You have got to read this satire about filtering out Calvinism on the internet. It is better not to describe it further. Just go read it. And laugh (if you are a Calvinist) if you have a sense of humor. I bet Patterson, Caner, and Yarnell will be trying to find the product. Look out, all of you queen makers, this guy has a serrated blade.

February 3, 2007 Posted by | Humor | Leave a comment

Screwtape Letter #9

<i>My Dear Wormwood,</i>
My Dear Wormwood,

(Editor’s note: These posts on the Screwtape Letters are the result of the high-school Sunday school class that my wife and I teach at Trinity Baptist church, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If any of this material would be useful to anyone for a similar purpose, please feel free to use it, modifying it in any way you feel necessary. If you have any suggestions, comments, or observations, I invite you to please post them here. This is a work in progress, looking for any honest and sincere help you might offer.)

Vocabulary
exploited: to take full advantage of, but in an unfair, selfish way
innocuous: not harmful; perfectly harmless
drab: dull; lacking any quality to invoke interest
perversions: to alter something from its original meaning or use
concomitants: a phenomenon that naturally accompanies or follows something
anodyne: a pain-killing drug or medicine
expansive: free of speech, very willing to talk openly
redolent: strongly reminiscent or suggestive of something
ardours: enthusiasm or passion; (British spelling)
desponding: to become dejected and lose confidence
acquiesce: to accept something reluctantly but without protest
proposition: a statement or assertion that expresses a judgment or opinion
patronising: to treat someone with kindness, but with an obvious air of superiority
antithesis: a contrast or opposition between two things
adolescent: that age or development between a child and an adult

Lesson
Last week in letter eight, Screwtape explains and defines the law of undulation. As we look at letter nine today, Screwtape instructs his nephew on techniques to exploit the “Trough” periods that take place in this undulation of the human soul. He begins letter nine by declaring that these low times “provide excellent opportunity for all sensual temptations, particularly those of sex.“; the reasoning being that, first, his powers of resistance are low, and, secondly because his “whole inner world is drab and cold and empty.” This last reasoning implies that man feels that he has a right constantly to be entertained, constantly to be on an adventure. The problem runs much deeper, as we discover later in this letter.

Screwtape makes an interesting observation about human pleasures: “Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we, are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground.” Paul tells Timothy that God richly provides us with everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17), and so we must realize that this world is not inherently evil. What makes it evil is what sinful mankind does with it, which is usually make the good things in the world to be our gods, which amounts to idolatry.

In addition to a lowered resistance during these low times, Screwtape points out several other avenues of exploitation. They all have their root in the reoccurring theme of keeping the patient from thinking too much: As always, the first step is to keep knowledge out of his mind. So it doesn’t matter, in the final sense if the low times lead you to despair, or to think that Christianity was just a phase you were going through, or to cause you to accept mediocrity as the norm for living the Christian life. The devil has won the battle from the very start if you fail to use your mind, and the means to grace that involve the mind, such as prayer and meditation and study on the word of God. As is the case in so many of these letters, their aim is to make us use our minds. That is what God’s word is for; to remind us of the promises of God (Acts 2:21, Hebrews 7:25), that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20); of the commands of God, to love Him with all our hearts (Matthew 22:37); to see the story of redemption, especially the price that was paid for our great salvation (Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 2:5-11).

<i>Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape</i>
Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape

February 2, 2007 Posted by | Sunday School | Leave a comment

Friday Photos: Henryetta, and the Airport

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Last Saturday we went down to help my wife’s folks out a bit. Three weeks ago Oklahoma had a fierce ice storm, and they needed some help getting some tree branches off their roof. They live on a hill overlooking the town of Henryetta. I took this photo looking east and a bit south. The blue building and the complex around it was the glass plant where my wife’s grandfather, “Bampa” worked for forty-four years. In those days it was owned by Pittsburg Plate Glass (PPG), but for the past couple of decades it has been owned by Anchor Hocking, and it has been retooled to make jars and bottles.

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This shot was taken a couple of nights ago out at Tulsa International Airport. I just love watching the deice crew do their thing. That is the only thing that I enjoy about cold, icy weather. Obviously, we were hit with another winter storm this week, though not as bad as a few weeks ago when the ice storm came through that brought branches down on my wife’s parents’ house. Praise be to God, travel to and from, and during work has been safe for me and my co-workers.
If you love snow or winter, there is still time to repent.

Catch all of the other extra fine photos over at the Friday Photo Group, where you will find some real quality photos from around Christian blogdom.

February 2, 2007 Posted by | Friday Photos | Leave a comment