Posted by: Robin Foster | April 28, 2010

Noah’s Ark Found?

This article tells of a recent find of some archeologists which claims to be Noah’s ark.  I’ll let you read the news piece and decide for yourselves.

Posted by: Robin Foster | April 7, 2010

Camp Logos for Logos IV

Last week I attended Camp Logos.  First let me say that it was well worth the money and effort and I plan to attend Camp Logos II when it comes to Oklahoma.  There were nearly 100 people in attendances at the conference that included both men and women, but you did not feel so isolated that you could not get help.  Below are some tips I will pass on if you decided to attend the camp.

  1. Plan on purchasing the manuals they offer and the short cut cards.  They sell two manuals which cost $30 a piece.  The first deals with the topics dealt with in Camp I.  The second with Camp II. The reason I purchased the manuals was because there was so much information and there was no way I could remember all that was shown.  The main benefit of the seminar is that you can see the power of Logos IV and how it can benefit your sermon preparation.  For example, if I was studying Eph 1:5 and I wanted to look further into the word “adoption” I could look into the collections I have set up to narrow my view of what resources I wanted to use.  For example, I have several John MacArthur books in my Logos library.  I could narrow my search to just MacArthur’s books on “adoption” and every reference where he speaks of our adoption would come up because I have a MacArthur collection already set up.  I could also include the theological books in my library that have been set up as a collection and every instance where “adoption” is mentioned would come up in my theological collection.  Imagine the time saved from having to pull books down from the shelf and looking up adoption in every MacArthur book or theological book.  Now, if I forgot how to set up my books up in collections after the seminar, the Logos I Manual would be there to guide me.  There are also some areas discussed in the seminar that are not in the syllabus handed out in the beginning of the program.  I have found that the manual covers those areas.
  2. If you are a Mac user like me, you are probably running the program on a parallel in Windows since Logos is not completely done with the Mac version.  On the Windows side, you may have noticed the right click is different in the Windows version if you are using the track pad on the Mac Book.  Right click for Logos is very important and sometimes when you try to right click on the track pad (using the control key along with the click button) something different happens than what should. I was not able to do all that was presented because my right click did not follow along with what happened on a PC, so I missed out practicing with some demonstrations (another reason the manuals are handy).  Afterwards, I decided to buy a wireless mouse to see if that would fix the problem.  It did.  If you don’t have a wireless mouse, get one to use until Logos is fully operational with Mac.  The one I got was only $20.  Of course you may find that the mouse makes things much easier on the Mac side also, as I have.
  3. Make sure your program is fully updated and indexed at least two days before so you can be prepared to use the program the day of the seminar.  I would suggest working off-line after you have updated and indexed until after the seminar.
  4. There will be products to purchase, bring extra cash.  The temptation will be too great.  I already have Grudem’s Systematic Theology, but when I saw what the search engine could do once I put my theology books in collections, I had to buy it for Logos.  You will be encouraged to buy other resources.
  5. You might find that Morris Proctor (Moe) seems to be a bit slow and repetitive.  I did find times where I was waiting for him to move on and was a bit frustrated, until he said something that I missed and went back and repeated it.  This happened a few times.  At that point I was very happy that he went slow.  Moe stuck around during the breaks and answered individual questions that pertained to one’s particular issue.  He did not see conference breaks as the time to chit-chat and eat food.  He was there to help.  I greatly appreciate his willingness to focus on the needs of the attenders and not his own.
  6. Don’t expect to get any information about the iPhone App.  They are mainly focused on the computer program itself.
  7. Finally, after seeing what this program can do you may be tempted to sell your shelf books.  Don’t!  I don’t want the marked flooded with used BDAGs and TDNTs.  Anyone needing slightly used copies, please let me know. :-)
Posted by: Robin Foster | April 6, 2010

Chuck Swindoll on Legalism

In an interview between Howard Hendricks and Chuck Swindoll, Dr. Swindoll gave some of his thoughts concerning legalism in the church.  He begins by stating that areas that are clearly spelled out in scripture does not fall under the topic of legalism:

Dr. Swindoll: I’m glad you mentioned legalism in relation to obedience and spiritual maturity. What a topic to think about in relation to growing in grace and doing it gracefully! I was recently asked an age-old question that the Church will probably be dealing with until Christ returns. It goes something like this: Where do you draw the line between legalism, which is restrictive and counter to grace, and the fact that God’s Word does give us clear standards and calls us to live sanctified,set-apart lives?

Well, the place to begin is to affirm that anything that is set forth in the Scriptures as a directive is a directive, period. It’s not legalism. There are in the Word lists of things God wants us to do and not to do, and they are very clearly set forth. We’re to obey every one of them. To fudge on that is to fudge in an area of obedience to God.

Yet, Dr. Swindoll also warns us against the dangers of legalism.

Dr. Swindoll: The problem comes when we get into areas that are not set forth in Scripture, either in precept or even in principle. These may be such things as length of hair, tattoos and other body piercings, skirts or pants for women, makeup or no makeup. Those are not scriptural issues. Sometimes these issues are cultural, and you do have to address them when you are in that particular culture. But I think legalism begins when you do or refrain from doing what I want you to do or not do because it’s on my list and it’s something that I am uncomfortable with.

The problem with legalists is that not enough people have confronted them and told them to get lost. Those are strong words, but I don’t mess with legalism anymore. I’m 72 years old; what have I got to lose? Seriously, I used to kowtow to legalists, but they’re dangerous. They are grace-killers. They’ll drive off every new Christian you bring to church. They are enemies of the faith. Other than that, I don’t have any opinion! So if I am trying to force my personal list of no-no’s on you and make you feel guilty if you don’t join me, then I’m out of line and I need to be told that.

What I like about Dr. Swindoll’s view is that it is balanced.  Legalism is a grace killer, but antinomianism (disregarding the Bible’s precepts) is dangerous to a faith community that is commanded to be holy in a world of sin.  To see the full interview click here.

Posted by: Robin Foster | March 23, 2010

Great Words From Skillet

My son was nice enough to allow me to listen to his newly purchased Skillet CD (Awake).  To those of you not in the know, Skillet is a Christian Rock band which I have followed since 1998.  Yes I realize that for some “Christian Rock” is an oxymoron, but these guys are really good and put forth a positive, God honoring message.  Lately I have fallen off of the music scene investing my time and money into reading books and listening to sermons, but luckily Thomas bought this CD.  One song (One Day Too Late) captured my attention as I listened to the lyrics and I thought I would pass some of the song to you all.

Today Im gonna try a little harder

Gonna make every minute last longer

Gonna learn to forgive and forget

‘Cause we don’t have long, gonna make the most of it

Today I’m gonna love my enemies

Reach out to somebody who needs me

Make a change, make the world a better place

‘Cause tomorrow could be one day too late

One day too late

One day too late

You can get the song or album off of iTunes.  You can also see Skillet’s entire music collection since their first album back in 1996.  Good stuff!

Posted by: Robin Foster | March 17, 2010

Kindle – Just Right for Me

Before going on vacation, I was blessed to receive my new Kindle from Amazon.com.  Why the Kindle?  Well, I had looked around for some time on which e-Reader I would commit my money and library.  I checked out the Barnes and Noble’s Nook and found it to have some good features, but when I asked the store clerk to show me how the device worked, he had problems trying to get the Nook to highlight or take personal notes.  I don’t know if the problem was with the sales clerk or the Nook itself, but after other employees tried to get it to highlight or take notes and failed, I gave up any interest in it.  I also priced some of the eBooks from B&N and found them to be more expensive than Amazon.  So, the Nook was crossed off my list.

I also became interested in the iPad from Apple to be released on April 3rd.  I am a Mac and an iPhone user.  I have enjoyed both products and they have been beneficial to my work.  I rate both with a high level of quality and reliability.  Therefore, with anticipation, I checked out the new iPad videos on the Apple web site and was impressed with the device.  The iPad is more than an eReader.  It is, for lack of a better description, an iPod touch on steroids.  I really like the idea of having a touch screen with which to navigate.  The initial drawback I found with the product was its size.  A little too big and cumbersome for me to carry around and read books, but not a deal breaker.  The deal breaker came with the price, $499 for the base iPad.  Models went all the way up to $899. If you got the iPad with the 3-G feature, you would be charged a monthly fee for the 3-G usage.   On the high end, once you buy the extended warranty and some other accessories you can quickly have over a $1000 investment.  Even with the base model, you could approach $700 quickly with all the add-ons. For me, the iPad (I nickname it the iSlurp) with all its extra features did not add any value over and above what I already have in my iPhone.  I am even able to read books from Amazon with the Kindle app on my iPhone.  So, I see no benefit to shell out hundreds of dollars to get what I consider an overgrown turbo charged iPhone.  Again, my interest is an eReader.

So back to the Kindle.  I purchased the Kindle II.  Again, size did matter for me as I thought the Kindle DX was a bit too big and cumbersome.  I didn’t see the added benefit of spending more money for a bigger device.  While the iPhone app for Kindle is great, but the iPhone itself too small to be a quality eReader, the Kindle II is the perfect size.  After adding the extended warranty and a case to keep it in, I spent around  $350.  With the books I have already purchased, I have saved about $100 off the printed versions of the same books.  Hopefully, I will make up the rest of the cost by years end with other book purchases.  I will let you check out the Kindle on Amazon.com to find all the features, but here are a few observations from my initial use.  Note taking and highlighting is relatively easy compared to the Nook even though movement of the cursor is a bit awkward.  The typing pad is too big and spaced out.  I have big hands and it was uncomfortable for me to hold the Kindle and type with my thumbs like I would on my iPhone when typing a note or thought.  I could only imagine more difficulty for someone with smaller hands.  Page turning was easy once I got used to which buttons went forward and backwards.  The best feature was the text-to-speech ability.  I was able to drive and listen to a book being read to me as we traveled.  While this feature is not available for all books, it is still great to use when available.  There were some words that were difficult for the Kindle pronounce, but let’s face it, many of us have difficulty pronouncing ecclesiology. ;-)  All together, I have enjoyed reading with it thus far.  I have had no problems with my eyes and the screen has been easy on them.

In the future, I hope Amazon will develop an eReader that is a touch screen that would rival the iPad and beat it on the price.  But until then, I would recommend the Kindle for anyone looking for an eReader.  If you have the money and really want the extra features the iPad contains, splurge and enjoy, but I would recommend an iPhone and Kindle combination if you are going to shell out that amount of money.  I would imagine in the next few years other devices will come that will contain improvements on the Kindle, but for the price, it is worth the purchase now to read books.

In President Obama’s recent state of the union address, he called for an end to the policy initiated under President Clinton’s administration that barred the military from asking if a soldier was a homosexual or not. Before that, the question could be asked and if the answer was in the affirmative then the person could be barred from serving or be immediately dismissed from active duty. With the DADT, the soldier admitting to being a homosexual would still be dismissed, but not forced into answering that question. President Obama’s recent call for the repeal of DADT would normalize homosexual behavior in the military and legitimately allow them to openly serve.

I have read several arguments in support of this move by Obama and the current administration. One is the tried and untrue argument that the military or government cannot legislate morality. Of course that is an outright falsehood. The military and our government legislates morality all the time. There are laws against murder, stealing, and lying. If you are concerned about sexually implicit morals done in the privacy of a bedroom, then prostitution is also barred by the military. So, morality is legislated, even to those private actions in the privacy of one’s bed.

Another argument is that thousands of soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines have been booted out of the military at a huge cost since DADT was initiated. While I would like to see how those numbers have been derived, the pragmatic “cost factor” is given as a reason to legitimatize homosexuality in the face of deficit spending. While I believe we should not engage in deficit spending and I am also a firm believer in smaller government, the cost of enforcing the barring homosexuals cannot be proven to be a legitimate means of adding to our 1.5 trillion deficit woes. It would be like the proverbial drop in all the earth’s oceans. The other pragmatic reason is that with two wars on America’s plate, we can’t afford to lose people who are willing to serve. While I concur that the US needs all the help she can get, I am afraid there may be an narrow pragmatic focus on this one issue without fully seeing it’s far reaching ramifications.

Of course numerous biblical warnings against pragmatic thought that overrides biblical principles can be found. One instance is when King Jehoshaphat married his son, Jehoram, to the daughter of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, Athaliah who were all worshipers of Baal. Pragmatically that was a good choice for the short term. Jehoshaphat had peace between himself and Ahab. In the long term though, Athaliah took control of the rulership of Judah many years later by killing almost all her male grandchildren and nearly annihilating the seed of David. It also gave the opportunity to legitimize Baal worship in the land of Judah. A biblical principle was violated and repercussions were felt years later. If Jehoshaphat had followed God’s principle of only allowing his son to marry one who was devoted to Yahweh, this terrible offense could have been avoided.

So what is a Christian to do with the repeal of DADT and the proposed normalization of homosexuality in the military? We must focus our heart on biblical principles. The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality as a grievous offense and an abomination to God’s holiness. Yet we know that Jesus himself went to the cross to pay the penalty for sins including the sin of homosexuality.

Second, We must show the love of Christ to all sinners, including homosexuals, yet not accept their sinful lifestyle choice. Speaking the truth in love as a man who is frantically warning oncoming cars of the bridge being out of service.

While on the surface accepting homosexuals in the service may help alleviate our present woes concerning cost and troop levels, God’s principles are given to us as a guide in leading us to holiness and avoiding unseen dangers. Personally, I believe the DADT policy should reversed to the original policy of asking and barring homosexuals from serving.

I also fear in the long term a move to accept homosexuality as a normal lifestyle in the military will further aid the efforts to legitimize homosexual marriage in our culture. Years ago our society suffered from the ill thought out system of segregation. The military was the first to desegregate and allow African Americans equal status with their fellow white counterparts. I believe President Truman’s decision to do this led to America’s segregation reversal and ultimately the election of her first African American president. I thank God for that decision.

While I do not equate the civil rights struggle to homosexuality in terms of discrimination, civil rights, or any other way similar to these, I do believe if homosexuality is accepted in the military, it will further the homosexual agenda of accepting same sex marriage and further take our nation down the slippery slope to Sodom and Gomorrah. It will also lead to the problem of homosexual military personnel marrying and chaplains possibly being forced to perform those marriages. That could void an evangelical witness in the military chaplaincy if chaplains were expected to perform such acts against their conscience.

So, what is the Christian to do with DADT? Walk faithfully according to God’s principle of loving the sinner and hating the sin and being the salt and light we are commanded to be. We must take advantage of opportunities to show God’s love without wavering from the sexual principles presented in His Word. It is a matter of faith that we stand against principles we feel will be harmful to our nation with the primacy of our witness being the gospel. But, no matter what the decision, I believe we must continue to support those men and women who are sacrificing themselves for the freedoms we enjoy, including the freedom to speak God’s Word in love, even if it speaks against their lifestyle choice.

Found this commentary on Soren Kierkegaard.  What is amazing about Kierkegaard is that he wrote in the first half of the 19th century.  What he was preaching back then is totally relevant for today.

The greatest enemy of Christianity, he argued, was “Christendom”—the cultured and respectable Christianity of his day. The tragedy of easy Christianity is that existence has ceased to be an adventure and a constant risk in the presence of God but has become a form of morality and a doctrinal system. Its purpose is to simplify the matter of becoming a Christian. This is just paganism, “cheap” Christianity, with neither cost nor pain, Kierkegaard argued. It is like war games, in which armies move and there is a great deal of noise, but there is no real risk or pain—and no real victory. Kierkegaard believed the church of his day was merely “playing at Christianity.”

Kierkegaard became increasingly convinced that his calling was in “making Christianity difficult.” He was to remind people of his day that to be truly Christian, one must become aware of the cost of faith and pay the price.

Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 228.

Lord, may I never wince or shy away from being faithful to you when the difficulty of carrying my cross and following Jesus becomes too burdensome.  May I place my trust in your sovereign hands.  May I risk greatly for your glory!

Posted by: Robin Foster | December 21, 2009

Logos 4: Taking Sermon Prep to the Next Level

Ever since I got the Biblesoft 2.0 edition back in 1997 I have used Bible computer software in my study. Over the years I remained with Biblesoft upgrading to the 5.0 version last year spring. I even wrote a review for them to use in their advertising. For the price, it is a great resource, but as I upgraded, I also waited for Biblesoft to produce something that dealt with syntactical and clausal analysis of the original Hebrew and Greek. In the DMin program at Southwestern, looking past the particular words to the clausal structure has been a major emphasis and a tremendous help in my preparation to preach God’s Word.

In February of 2009 I went to the Biblesoft table when I attended the Pastors Conference at FBC Jacksonville and asked if they were developing anything that might help in studying the text at the clausal level. The guy at the table said that they hadn’t and that I really didn’t need to do that because it was a waste of time. I wouldn’t get much out of it. My response, “Hmmmmmmmmm? I think it is time to move on to another program.”

While I still believe that Biblesoft is a good program (great for those who have limited knowledge of Greek and Hebrew) and well worth the investment (It is much cheaper than Logos), I wanted to go deeper electronically with my study. Then I took another look at Logos. I had kept up with them since my seminary days, but during that time I did not feel the price justified the investment. Now ……… WOW! I got the Logos 3.0 program after the Pastors Conference and it has been a tremendous help. They recently released the 4.0 program and I upgraded to the Platinum edition from the Gold I had. The resources are too numerous to mention. And yes, they have great syntactical and clausal analysis resources that help in those studies.

What is great with the 4.0 edition is the indexing feature that indexes every word used in the entire library so that if I want to find out more on “baptism” all I have to do is type it and every resource in the library that refers to baptism will come up. Hours of research are done in just a few seconds. If I am studying a particular passage in the New Testament, all I have to do is type in the passage and more than thirty commentaries and word studies pop up on the screen saving me hours of researching. I can also designate which resources are my favorite to get what I need more quickly. The information is a click away. The Old Testament resources are not as numerous as the New Testament resources, but in reality, that is true whether you are using Logos or not. Even so, a wealth of information is available for the Old Testament.

Another bonus is that I can integrate the Logos program with my iPhone. While Logos is still in the process of getting the entire library available on the iPhone, for the time being I can still do some incredible studies (Logos currently has over 3000 resources. Click here to see which ones.) and look up items when I am working with others one-on-one or in small groups. Just this morning I was discussing some particulars about Herod the Great with other pastors and was able to look up information on the spot to settle an argument.

The major draw back is that they are still developing the software for the Mac. While I could use what they have available on my Mac, it would be updated approximately every two weeks and on each update the computer would go and re-index all the material in the program, which would take several hours. They plan on having the updated edition fully integrated for Mac by the summer. Until then I can still run the program on my parallel.

If you are hyper-serious about getting the most out of your study time in the best way possible and you have the means by which to do so, I would recommend Logos 4.0. If cost is a serious problem, they have discounts for seminary students and professors if your institution has an agreement with them. They will also allow you to pay the cost in installments. Check out the web site, www.logos.com to get all the details.

I have not been paid or given any monetary benefits for this review.

Posted by: Robin Foster | December 14, 2009

12 Days of Christmas?

I love these guys!

Posted by: Robin Foster | December 9, 2009

Bummed Out But Remaining Vigilant

I weighed myself yesterday and was disappointed. In approx 3 weeks, I have only lost 2 pounds. Altogether since October 1, I have dropped 26 lbs. Yet, I have been able to wear a sports coat I haven’t worn comfortable in 4 years and I am in a pair of pants I haven’t worn in over five years that I couldn’t put on three weeks ago.

I spoke to our church secretary and my wife (two different people) about it and they both were very encouraging in that they have noticed that I have continued to get skinnier. Many in church have noticed also. I work out an hour each day alternating between my elliptical and resistance training. I still follow my journaling at livestrong.com. My waist has gotten tremendously smaller. Yet, only 2 measly pounds!!!!! The only thing I can link it to is the fact that I have added some muscle. When clothes feel looser than they did three weeks ago, that can be the only thing to which I can attribute it. I guess the disappointment was that I was expecting more because everything was feeling tremendously looser.

These are the hard months. Honestly, I have not been faithful everyday. I decided that I would not go overboard during this time and I would make wise choices, yet still enjoy some of my favorites during this season. I have committed to stay away from egg nog and pecan pie (not worth the calories even though I love them both). The turkey I eat will be white meat w/o the skin and plenty of vegetables. I have indulged in pumpkin pie (only one slice per sitting and not everyday) and a Christmas cookie or two. I have also looked at my calender to see what events were coming up so that I could plan out where I could have a little wiggle room. For example, last night was the associational Christmas banquet. I knew that Joseph’s (a regional bbq fav) would cater so I held off during the day and curbed some other events so that I could enjoy a bit more at the event. I decided I would not eat the potato salad or coleslaw, but would enjoy some tabouli, baked beans, and brisket. In the past I would have scarfed down the other items also believing I had enough faith to move that mountain of food! I did indulge, but not like I would have in the past. My goal during the holiday season is to not lose ground by gaining, but drop a few more pounds and remain vigilant in my workouts and food journaling. I don’t want to begin the New Year by having to regain ground I have already won. I am taking the same philosophy George C. Scott said in Patton, “I don’t believe in paying for the same real estate twice.”

In January I will have 1oo more pounds to go to my goal. I want to achieve that by Sept 30, 2010. That way I can engage the holidays next year with a “maintaining” attitude towards my fitness and not make another New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

Okay, I am no longer bummed out. May the Lord strengthen me and all of you who are fighting the same battles.

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