Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ryrie Study Bible Notes


I added the Ryrie Study Bible Notes to my handheld Bible study arsenal a couple months ago. The cool thing about them on my PDA is that I can use them with whatever Bible version I am currently reading.

In addition to notes on most verses (over 10,000) there are also introductions of the Old and New Testaments and each of the books. There are also outlines of each book.

The notes provide helps on historical or archaeological background, translation or interpretation ideas, word definitions, doctrines and other passages that bear on the verse at hand.

The introductions give information on the author, background and contents of the books and the outlines show at a glance what is going on in the book.

At the end of the notes there is an index of principal characters and subjects. You can look up people and things and find verses where they are mentioned. There is also a synopsis of Bible doctrines. Rather than a lot of text explaining the doctrine, it is like an outline with reference to verses that support the doctrine. The thing I like about that is you can read the verse and see the support or lack yourself.

Charles C. Ryrie is Professor Emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary. In addition to the Ryrie Study Bible, he has authored many books including Balancing the Christian Life, Basic Theology and Survey of Bible Doctrine.

The Ryrie Study Bible Notes are a great addition to a Bible study library. I got my copy from Olive Tree. Having them on my handheld makes using them with any Bible version easy and they are with me wherever I go.

Philip
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For better and easier Bible study check out the links below.

Ryrie Study Bible Notes

Olive Tree has products for Palm, Pocket PC, Smartphone, Blackberry and iPhone. Over 150 of the resources are free.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Prolifers Labeled as Right-Wing Extremists and Potential Terrorists

Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security thinks prolifers as well as those who believe in “end time” prophecy or oppose same-sex marriage need to be watched because they are potential terrorists.

Here is a link to the CitizenLink article where I read about this.

Here is a link to the Department of Homeland Security document. Read it for yourself. If for some reason this link quits working in the future, leave a comment and I will update it.

It’s interesting what is coming out of the Obama administration and what isn’t. They refuse to label Islamic extremists as terrorists but good law-abiding American citizens are called rightwing extremists and potential terrorists because what they believe is in opposition to the Obama agenda. Apparently the only "war on terror" Obama will tolerate is one against his ideological opponents.

I reject most if not all “conspiracy theories” because they are usually just theories. The above-mentioned report is a good indicator of what we may expect in the future. If Obama can marginalize good American citizens as dangerous, hateful crazies, it will be easier to pass laws to control them…all for the good of America.

Here is a definition of rightwing extremism from the report:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
People who oppose abortion are identified as hate-oriented. It’s also interesting that returning veterans are singled out in the report as people to be watched. Apparently, the Obama administration doesn’t view them as heroes but as potential trouble makers.

As CitizenLink mentioned, it may be hard to do something about this in Congress given the present makeup. It would be good to pass this information on wherever you can. Shining the light on the roaches may cause them to scurry.

If you doubt that the report is real, here is a link to Janet Napolitano’s comments on the report.

Resist the urge to be apathetic. Do something while you can.

For the lighter side, here is a Stoplight video commentary.

Philip

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gratitude

I think one of the most important virtues is gratitude. I also think the lack of gratitude is a disaster in the making.

Gratitude gives us perspective.

I have always been thankful for the home I was raised in. I was adopted at three months old. My adoptive parents could not have children so my older brother, younger sister and I were chosen to be their children.

My thankfulness for this home colors how I look at it. Part of the reason my mother could not have children was because of chronic illnesses. I have many memories as a young child of my mother being gone because she was in the hospital. She died the year I turned sixteen.

Depending on my perspective, I could have different feelings about my upbringing. I could feel shortchanged – my birth mother rejected me, my adoptive mother wasn’t there for me because she was always sick and after she died I ended up having to do the cooking and other household chores. I could have been mad at God – what was He thinking?

But I don’t feel that way. Gratitude gives me a different perspective. I see how God brought me into a loving home with a mother, who more than anything else wanted to be a mother. I got to see my Dad cope with so much adversity that came into his life. Sometimes he seemed to get one bad deal after another. But it wasn’t reflected in his attitude because he was thankful for all of his blessings from God.

After my mother’s death, I learned to cook and loved it; I also learned how to work. I can look back and see the wonderful hand of God in our family. He placed me into a good home.

To be thankful we need to remember what God and other people have done for us. Call those things to mind and express them. That gives us a perspective that will get us through the rough times.

When we lack gratitude, life looks different. We live with a chip on our shoulder. Nothing is ever good enough. People are always letting us down. Circumstances are exaggerated out of proportion. We focus on the bad hand we were dealt. A lack of gratitude results in bitterness. A “bitter root” comes when we allow disappointment to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts.

Gary Thomas says this:

Unless we learn to cultivate a thankful heart, we become stuck in bitterness. I like to think of thankfulness as God's "spiritual air freshener." It replaces the stale odor of resentment with clean, fresh-selling air for the soul to breathe.
I wonder if the lack of gratitude is the problem many times when marriages crumble. Unless it was an arranged marriage, there was a time when love flourished and the couple couldn’t wait to get married. Each thought the other was so wonderful and faults were minimized. Love covered a multitude of sins as 1 Peter 4:8 says. But then something happened. Gratitude was forgotten; the good was not called to mind and was replaced by a focus on faults. Instead of being thankful for the good, the focus became what was bad or what wasn’t.

Many people are mad at God. They think he is holding out on them. They think it’s his fault that they don’t have a good job, more money, a better home, caring friends, etc. If they feel that way towards the God of love and mercy then they probably feel that way towards other people too.

We read over and over in Scripture about people forgetting God. The precursor is a lack of gratitude. We forget what he has done then we forget who he is. Soon, other gods are taking his place. We start to think that it may have been better back in Egypt.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: Give thanks in all things; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. This is the first step to a life of gratitude. Make a list of the things you are thankful for. Pray for the people who irritate you and think about their good qualities. Gratitude will give you a new perspective.

If it’s hard to make a list of things you are thankful for then you probably lack gratitude. What can you thank God for? What are the good qualities of your spouse? What about your job is a blessing? Are you thankful for the people God has brought into your life?

Here are some things I am thankful for:

  • my upbringing in a Christian home
  • that I became a Christian at a young age
  • my wife
  • my children
  • that God has always provided our needs
  • that God forgives sin and doesn’t hold my history over my head
  • for new blessings and mercy each day
  • for good friends who really care about me
  • for a good church to be involved in
  • for the things I don’t even have a clue about
Each of these could have a list of their own.

Philip

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Politicians and Pirates


Here in Colorado there isn’t a lot of difference between politicians and pirates.

What has me thinking this is the recent attempt of the Democratic controlled legislature to seize $500 million dollars of surplus workers’ compensation funds held and managed by Pinnacol. The State of Colorado is running short of money so the Democrats are sailing the high seas looking for plunder.

Politicians claim that because Pinnacol is quasi-governmental, they have a right to the money. It seems to me that the money belongs to the companies that paid into the fund. If there is a surplus, the companies should get a refund or lower premiums in the future. I can’t imagine how the government thinks the money is theirs. Then again I guess it’s the same as when the Federal government stole funds from the Social Security Trust Fund. Not much chance of that money being returned either.

The politician’s attitude reminds me of the Somali pirates that were killed this week after holding an American Captain hostage. Their buddies act all upset and now declare that America is the enemy because we protected some of our own. Never mind that they, as pirates, illegally boarded the ship and terrorized the crew at gunpoint in the attempt of getting a ransom.

When Pinnacol vows to fight the Colorado legislature’s threat to seize their funds, the politicians retaliate by claiming Pinnacol has a fancy office and that their workers are paid too much. I guess the Somali pirates use the same logic. The people passing near their country have too much so it is their right to seize it.

I wish the politicians both State and Federal would learn to operate under the same rules that responsible Americans use. If our income is decreased we cut expenses. If we seize someone else’s funds we are called a thief and end up in jail.

Philip

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Repentance

A man was losing sleep because he had been cheating on his taxes. He finally decided that he needed to do something about it. He wrote a letter to the IRS that read as follows:

Dear Sirs,

For several years I have not been honest in paying my taxes. Enclosed is $650.00 that I owe.

Sincerely,

Joe Taxpayer.

PS If I still can't sleep, I will send the rest.

Isn’t that human nature? Even when faced with guilt we tend to hold back from telling the whole truth. Why is that?

Yesterday I was listening to Family Life Today. The subject was forgiveness after finding out about a spouse’s sexual impurity. Here is what stood out to me:

Bob: And, you know, most guys are thinking, "I don't want to tell any, and I don't want to say it at all." I mean, it's a scary prospect for a husband to sit down with his wife and say, "I'm coming clean on this kind of a situation." Do you think when I tell guys at a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference – "You've got to bring your wife in on this, or you're not going to get where you need to go?" Am I giving them the right counsel?

Susan: Yes, you are. What typically happens, though, is a man will put out what I call a "tester confession." He'll see how she responds and then give her more later.

Dennis: So if she reacts strongly, he may retreat and may never come clean.

Susan: Possibly.

Bob: Give me an example of a tester confession. What would a guy say?

Susan: "I only did it two times," or, you know, "I looked at this stuff, but I didn't do this much," you know, usually there's an "only," there's a limitation to what he did or who he was with or wasn't with.
I thought the idea of a tester confession was very interesting. It’s probably not the way to handle confession but I understand why people would do it. Fear holds us back.

This makes me think of another related topic. Here is the situation: a spouse was unfaithful at some time in the past. It’s been over for a long time. Should they now tell their spouse? I know that some people advocate keeping quiet. They say that since it’s over, it would only make things worse for the spouse to find out. I don’t think that is a good idea. One reason would be that if the spouse ever finds out in the future they are going to think that it was hidden for a reason and would probably think it is still going on. The bigger reason is that real repentance usually costs. The confession may well cause waves and severe turmoil in the marriage. If that is anticipated then it would be a good idea to have some good counsel on how to go about the confession and it might be good to have someone else there when it is done.

Another reason for incomplete repentance is when someone is caught or anticipates getting caught. They “confess” what they must to get the heat off. In other words, they tell as little as possible even though they may act like they are coming clean. One thing to look for in cases like this: did the person reveal information that no one else knew. Are they revealing more than they need to?

1 John 1:9 says this: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can be confident in this promise from God; He is always ready to forgive and cleanse. Of course people are a different matter. We may not get the same attitude from them. Nevertheless, we still need to repent and if they respond incorrectly then we can’t do anything about that even though we may have to live with it.

Philip

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