Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: March 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I don't stress easy. But if I did, now would be a great time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Maze Jackson - The 4th Man

Maze Jackson was an ol' time bible preaching evangelist who had a "Truck Drivers Special" radio program. My home church in Kingsport, TN would regularly have Maze come and lead a week long revival, back when churches actually did those sort of things. I can remember those long summer nights when Maze would preach. I was more in awe of his big voice and overwhelming presence than I was his actual message. He was a large man and because he would preach so hard for 45 minutes to an hour, he would be soaking wet from sweat. After each sermon, someone would come and place a rain coat on him. I always thought that was so cool. Maze died in 1996.

I was thinking about Maze the other night and did a quick search to see if the world of the internet would remember him. I was thrilled to find some of his messages available online. Maze was not the most educated man. He didn't hold degrees from leading theological seminaries. Sometimes his theology was a little out of whack. But he loved the Lord and preached with conviction. Chances are good that some 12 years after I am dead and gone, people will not be listening to my sermons on the internet.

I was sitting on the couch at 2 am listening to this message titled "The 4th Man." The text concerns the 4th man in the fiery furnace. When Maze makes the point that the heavenly Father would stand by his promise using the story of Sarah, Abraham, and Isaac, I felt tears begin to form. So here is a small excerpt from "The 4th Man." Thank you Maze Jackson.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Southern Seminary Quote of the Day

From Dr. Schreiner's NT Theology course:

"So at the end of the day our fundamental need is to become a new tree."

What else is there to say?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Matthew 21:1-11 Application

For a solid sermon on the passage I wrote about in my post below, check out my friend, former professor, and Atlanta Braves fan Mike Ruffin's recent post here.

The Triumphal Entry

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. We as believers celebrate the "Trimumphal Entry" of Christ into Jerusalem. As Holy Week begins, we look forward with expectation to the day our Lord demonstrates His power over death. We also know the darkness that Good Friday will bring. Below is a small excerpt from a Greek Exegesis paper I wrote last semester. I do not typically get the chance to publish my school work in any way, so I thought I would let the Lair readers get a little glimpse of some of the work I am involved in. Don't worry about the weird words, those are transliterations of Greek words. This section picks up on the command from Jesus to his disciples to go and get a donkey for him to ride. Blessings today!

The assignment for which Jesus sends two of his disciples is not only strange, but also disputed. The nature of Christ’s imperatival command is uncertain, although the purpose seems to be clear. The imperatives poreuesthe and agapete function as the bookends for Jesus’ instruction. The emphasis on “go” and “bring” provides assurance to the disciples for a successful mission. In addition, Matthew uses a volitive future with ereite in verse 3 that serves in effect as an imperative. There is also a grammatical divine ordering usage of euthews found twice in these instructions, one in verse 2 and another in verse 3. This serves to heighten the assurance of the donkey being in its proper place. Two possibilities are given for the nature of these imperatives. First, Jesus could be relying on his supernatural power for the source of this confident assurance. Second, Jesus could have made prior arrangements with the owner of the donkey.

The arguments supporting the second position are two-fold. First, Matthew does not seem to be as concerned with the divine power of Jesus at this point since he omits the material from Mark highlighting the verbatim details of Jesus’ instructions. Mark 11:4 describes the colt being tied in the street exactly as Jesus had described. Had Matthew wanted to emphasize the divine supernatural power of Christ at this point, he would have surely left those details in his account. Second, some scholars believe the phrase ha kurios autwn creian exei is in effect a password created by Jesus prior to his arrival. Once the disciples spoke this phrase, the owner would know Jesus was in town and needed the donkey. Regardless of the substantiality of this claim, the kurios in this verse clearly stands as a double entendre. The owner of the donkey would have understood the disciples to be speaking of their master or lord, but they were also speaking of the Lord God.

Arguments for the divine foreknowledge of Christ in this setting reject the password theory, arguing that since Jesus made a provision with the disciples concerning the task, he was anticipating some kind of objection. If prior arrangements had been made, it is probable that the owner would not object. The more important argument is in the context of 21:2-3. Matthew’s focus in the introductory text of 20:29-34 and his triad of Jesus’ authority in chapter 23 are clear expositions of the divine power and messianic fulfillment of Jesus. With the triumphal entry serving as the soon coming completion of the eschatological fulfillment and messianic kingship of Christ, Matthew would have had Jesus’ supernatural nature in play here and not his pragmatic fortitude.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Weather Channel Founder to Sue Al Gore?

John Coleman, founder of the cable television Weather Channel, wants to sue Al Gore. Why? For the possibility that Al Gore is committing financial fraud. Here is what Coleman says:
"Is he committing financial fraud? That is the question. Since we can't get a debate, I thought perhaps if we had a legal challenge and went into a court of law, where it was our scientists and their scientists, and all the legal proceedings with the discovery and all their documents from both sides and scientific testimony from both sides, we could finally get a good solid debate on the issue. I'm confident that the advocates of 'no significant effect from carbon dioxide' would win the case."
He goes on to say that "As you look at the atmosphere over the last 25 years, there's been perhaps a degree of warming, perhaps probably a whole lot less than that, and the last year has been so cold that that's been erased." That is quite a powerful statement.

I am not a scientist. To engage in scientific discussions on this issue, as so many of my co-non-scientist brothers and sisters are prone to do, is silly. I can state some pretty clear and basic observations. First, people obviously have an impact on the environment. The degree of negativity of this impact is of course debated. But we do have an impact. Second, the media loves global warming. Third, people listen to the media.

So, after those deep and astute observations, my position on this is pretty simple. Do I think we have overblown the global warming threat primarily because of the media attention it enjoys? Yes. Do I think that means we can do whatever we want and not worry about the environment? No.

Perhaps Jonathan Merritt (see below) is coming at this from a similar perspective, I don't know. But it seems to me that even those folk who are not concerned for the earth's doom in 50 years due to the effects of global warming can still appreciate the need to take care of our planet. If global warming is a farcical waste of time at the end of the day, then yes, the world needs to be aware of the truth. Nevertheless, even if that new found knowledge came to us tomorrow, it should make little difference in our approach to the environment. We are called to be good stewards, with or without the threat of global warming.

So, I will leave the actual scientific discussion on the threat of global warming to those people who know about such things. In the meantime, I will try and do a little better to protect this great planet God has created.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Way To Go Jonathan Merritt!

According to Baptist Press, a statement was released on March 10th titled "A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change." This declaration, signed by SBC heavyweights such as Frank Page, James Merritt, Dan Akin, and my own Hershael York, says that Southern Baptists' "current denominational engagement with these (environmental) issues [has] often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice. Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better."

What I want to speak on here is not the overdue status of such a statement in the SBC or the wake-up call to Southern Baptists in the light of an environmental crisis. I just want to give a shout out to Jonathan Merritt. You see, this declaration sure sounds like it has come from the top tier of SBC leadership. How else can it enjoy such wide spread media attention and host the names of such important people in the SBC? The truth is, however, this was all started by a 25 year seminary student. Jonathan Merritt is a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. In a teleconference with the media, this is what he had to say:
"In my theology class lecture my professor made the statement that when we destroy creation, which is God's revelation, it is no different than tearing a page out of the Bible. At that moment, God began to work in my heart and call me to do something. [This document] is the product of that nudge from God that day."

This elicits two responses from the Beast's Lair.

First, this is a powerful reminder that God uses all people of all ages in all walks of life to do great things. Jonathan no doubt was reminded of Paul's exhortation to Timothy to not "let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." Whether it is a young Timothy, a young David, or a young boy with two fish and five loaves, God will use whom he wishes to do Godly things. This also applies to the 75 year lady in the back pew who thinks her time is finished. God can and will use all ages.

Second, the idea of the declaration came to Jonathan during this theology class, a class that many of our beloved church goers would think has no real practical value. I identify strongly with this. I love theology and studying systematics, but I have absolutely been motivated to take action more in my three theology classes from SBTS than from any other class, including my personal evangelism class. When theology finds its way to the heart in addition to the head, great things happen.

So way to go Jonathan Merritt!

(on a slightly humorous side note - it is ironic timing that such a declaration which brings up the issue of global warming comes just after a massive snow storm that crippled a good part of the OH, IN, and KY areas. Louisville got around 14 inches.)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Jimmy Chitwood - UCLA vs California

UCLA player Josh Shipp has just won an incredible last second victory for the Bruins by performing a flat out unbelievable shot. With 2 seconds left, Josh goes baseline and "rainbows" the ball over the back of the backboard for a successful shot, winning the game 81-80 against California.

Although that was all well and good, the best part was when the announcer says "you mentioned Larry Bird, how about Hoosier's Jimmy Chitwood? This was even tougher than the picket fence."

Jimmy Chitwood is one of the most admired basketball players of all time. His name has become an American idiom, in my opinion, among sports fans for "the best." When you have a national college basketball announcer comparing a last minute shot to that of an fictional Hollywood creation, you know you are dealing with legend.

Of course, Jimmy is not fictional for those of us who have Hoosiers memorized. Somewhere, even at this very moment, he is sinking yet another 20 footer, and inspiring another wave of basketball wanna-be's to increase their sports vocabulary to just three simple words: "I'll Make It."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Have You Ever Met A True Christian?

I am currently studying the early church in one of my seminary courses. I have found myself unusually interested in this specific time in church history. I have always been a big fan of Athanasius (ask my wife, that is going to be the name of our dog), but I have recently been studying Basil the Great.

Basil was one of the three great "Cappadocian Fathers" and continued the legacy of Athanasius in defending the full deity of Christ. Although the empire wide persecution of Christians had slacked off, the emperor Valens stood against what Basil so strongly believed. So, on one occasion, the emperor was going to visit Caesarea where Basil was bishop. He ordered the prefect there to "subdue" the bishop before his arrival. When Basil refused to budge on his positions, the prefect resorted to threatening the bishop with confiscating his goods, exile, torture, and even death. When I read the response of Basil, I was moved.
"All that I have that you can confiscate are these rags and a few books. Nor can you exile me, for wherever you send, I shall be God's guest. As to tortures you should know that my body is already dead in Christ. And death would be a great boon to me, leading me sooner to God."

Taken aback, the prefect told Basil that no one had ever spoken to him in such a way.

Basil answered, "Perhaps that is because you have never met a true bishop."

When I read those words last night around 2:30 am on my couch, I put my book down and closed my eyes. When people come in contact with me, are they able to say that they have met a true Christian? Basil was not, I don't think, denying the reality of other bishops across Christendom. Rather, he was demonstrating to the wide-eyed prefect the results of obedient, determined living for Jesus Christ. Results that did not come naturally. They came from a love of God's Word. They came from not being a mere hearer. They came from wrestling with important matters of faith and then, once convinced on an interpretation, not being content with the satisfaction of knowing what you know, but longing for that knowledge to live itself out in practical living. They came from crucifying the desires of self to make way the possibility of the desires of Christ.

I shake hands with hundreds of Christians every Sunday. And they shake mine. I'm not so sure they have shaken hands with a true Christian in the ultimate sense of the word. I'm not so sure I have shaken the hand of all that many myself. Am I really living it? Am I practicing the presence of God? I'm not where I need to be. But maybe tomorrow I can get closer. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

RexandtheBeast.com New Video

Below is the new Busch Gardens trip video from rexandthebeast.com taken from our latest theme park trip in January. Make sure you check out www.rexandthebeast.com every week for additional blogs, pictures, videos, etc of our theme park adventures.