Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goodbye 2005...Hello 2006!

As we come to the end of another year, many people are thinking of ways they want to change the way they live. They look back over the year and compare what actually took place to what they thought or hoped would take place.

2005 has been an exciting chapter in my own life. Among some of eventful things which took place were: my dad going into septic shock while on vacation with my mom in Hawaii, my dad having to have major surgery, my brother being deployed to Iraq, my three-month stint on the Amazon River in Brazil, my grandpa having open-heart surgery because of a genetic problem, finding out that both my uncles, my mom, and I have this genetic problem, becoming more aware of God's sovereingty in the midst of suffering, purchasing a really old, antique copy of Berkhof's Systematic Theology, starting this blog, and everyone growing a year older.

One thought that has meant a lot to me this year has been, "You don't grow much in Christ during the easy times." It's the hard times that show us how dependent upon Christ we are. It is the trials which force us to lean on Him to be our comfort. It is the loneliness which reminds us that God is our only truly faithful friend. It is bad health which shows us that our only hope is Jesus. It is our imperfections which reminds us that Jesus lived the only perfect life.

This is why we thank God for struggles. We rejoice that God is ordaining hardships for us. This is why we smile (with tears in our eyes) when we say that our suffering is personalized individually for us. It's handmade stuff. It was made for us with us in God's mind.

And it's not just for the suffering itself. It's for something else.

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5

It produces hope. The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with God's love. This is the best thing for us.

So, as is popular tradition, here are my top ten New Year's Resolutions:

  • live to exalt Christ's name
  • live like I have one week left to live
  • live for the sake of partaking in Christ's sufferings
  • live for eternity, not the here and now
  • live riskfully and wisely at the same time
  • live healthfully
  • live joyfully
  • live to kill sin
  • live to die to self
  • live as would most please God

Now, what are yours?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Weazel "The Theologist" Ball

Well, it seems all my "creature friends" develop a love and habit of theology when they enter my home. This makes me very thankfully proud.

Here is the newest addition to the bunch, Weazel. We call him The Theologist.

Just some questions...

How far did we fall when we fell at the Fall? (say that ten times fast)

Are we wounded or dead?

Are we in need of a life-helper (doctor) or a life-giver (Jesus)?

Do we have the freedom (may we) to believe the Gospel?

Do we have the ability (can we) to believe the Gospel?

Are we slaves to sin?

Are we free to do as we want?

Do we want to love God?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Pipester...

I'd like to call your attention to my friend, Brian's blog, Righteous Sinner. He doesn't have any new posts. However, the old posts are really good. So, go check them out.

Here is a picture of his dog, Piper. The book, however, is by Ron Julian. Good book...

You think you know Jack???

I'd like to draw your attention to my friend, Daniel's blog, Always Reforming. He has just posted a great, well-researched overview of C.S. Lewis and Narnia. I think it's definitely worth the read especially in light of the new movie and its surrounding ideas. Enjoy!


This is a giant Hubble Mosaic of the Crab Nebula. Ana has gotten me into the mood of looking at the stars. They are quite beautiful here in the US, however, nothing I've seen here compares to the sky over the Amazon River in Brazil. I got the privilege of seeing the Milky Way so clearly and the Southern Cross so brightly. After a hard day's work, we would bathe in the clear blue water under a black night. I would just lay there on a bed made of smooth, white sand. The moon would shine the brightest light beam through the water, lighting up the sky. The stars....oh, the stars...they were spectacular!

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,and the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4

Late nights...

So, here I am sitting with a laptop on the couch watching all the seinfeld episodes on tivo. This is how I'm wasting my time with NO school!!! "Turn it off!" "Go to bed!" "AAAHHHH!!!"

Friday, December 23, 2005

Attention Torn ACLU!!!

Sorry to put this here...But if you are still reading this blog, have you read D.A. Carson's book on the Emergent church?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Web Sudoku

I've been doing it for toooooo long...thanks a lot, Frank!

70s Music Explosion!

All I want for Christmas is a LifeTime 70s Music Explosion 8 CD set. (Got that, Stephen?)

The Poll

For the last couple weeks, I've had a poll up about salvation and what it is conditioned upon. I wanted to do this because so often when I am discussing with fellow believers the subject of Reformed soteriology, the conversation will most often come down to how you would vote on this poll.

The question posed was this: What is salvation conditioned upon?

The possible "answers" were these:

  • Salvation is conditioned upon man's free will
  • Salvation is conditioned upon God's electing grace
  • Salvation is conditioned upon some other factor

The poll results are as follows (out of 96 votes total):

  • man's free will: 20 votes (21%)
  • God's electing grace: 55 votes (57%)
  • some other factor: 21 votes (22%)

Daniel wrote,

Good Arminians should vote with the second option. Both sides agree that God
decides or elects who is saved. The disagreement is whether this election is
unconditional or conditional. You really should reword it.

Thanks for bringing up a good subject, Daniel. My response to your first point, that "Both sides agree that God decides or elects who is saved," would be, I have yet to meet an arminian who would say that it is God who ultimately decides who will be a recipient of His grace. Will I ever meet an arminian who does?

Is election conditional?

Hmmm...I'm sure no one will want to address this comment...

When Grace Comes Home

I just picked up this book at the book store. At first I was a bit skeptical. I get this way a lot. The cover is too modern, too appealing, too perfect. It couldn't possible be about THE "doctrines of grace," could it? I've picked up too many books which take reformed theology or calvinism or biblical theology and water it down, in the name of being appealing to my generation.

I'm half way through and When Grace Comes Home is climbing to my top favorite books. Terry Johnson, the man behind the book, starts off by saying,

"I personally stand as one who has been profoundly touched by the practical implications of Calvinism, and deeply longs for others to drink from it's satisfying wells. Yet in the popular mind, insofar as anything at all is understood about them, Calvinism's doctrines are regarded as irrelevant theological abstractions without any practical relevance at all."

This is true. I've seen it in my friends who think that I pursue the study of God because I'm "odd" or a "deep thinker." I want them to taste the richness of our God and of His ruling. I want them to see that the study of God is relevant, practical, and delighting. Learning about our God is a gift which should be relished. We should hoard it and be jealous of it. Not because of simply knowing about God, but knowing God.

Johnson goes on, "For our purposes I will focus in on three cardinal doctrines, which shall serve as the focus for the first leg of our journey."

These three doctrines are: the sovereignty of God, human depravity, and sovereign grace.

"These doctrines are not just the theoretical musings of ivory-tower theologians. They are not just abstractions unconnected to life. They are central. They are vital. They are crucial to the living of life. How so? Few seem to realize that these theological truths have shaped whole peoples and civilizations..."

"'My people perish for their lack of knowledge,' God warns through Hosea. This surely has been our problem. We have not had the patience to wrestle with the great truths. We have deliberatively avoided certain doctrines. The result? The same result that occurs whenever one deliberatively refuses any part of God's revelation of Himself. We suffer. We lose. Our souls don't receive the nourishment that that doctrine supplies."

"Paul taught 'the whole counsel of God' because we need it all (Acts 20:27). If we didn't need a part of it, God would not have revealed it to us. Since He did, we can't go around saying, 'It's too hard,' or 'It's too theological.' Apply your minds. 'Come let us reason together,' the Lord says (Isa. 1:18)."

"This is what we intend to do in the pages ahead. I believe that the result will be a much expanded knowledge of God for most. With that will come a clearer understanding of life as well."

My take: read it, read God's Word, and enjoy being refreshed in the wonder of God!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A day in my life

I don't usually write about my day-to-day life on here, however, I've had the most interesting day that I just have to share with you.

It started out normal enough; I woke up.

At 11:30 I was supposed to meet someone for lunch but I was running a little late. I couldn't find a parking space and so I had to park up Main St. a ways and park in the 2-hour lot behind the bank, across from the Christian book store (the one where I am "on call" for when they need extra help).

Had a great lunch at a deli shop and headed back to my car when I realized I didn't have my keys. "Where did they go, Juli?" I ask myself.

"Man, I'm such an idiot!" I say as I see my keys dangling from the ignition.

I call my dad at work.

"Dad, do you have a spare to the Honda (yes, I drive an Accord!)?"
"Oh yeah, I did use it last week to get my keys out of the car...dangit!" (Where did I put that spare???)

So I call my mom up who is taking my great-grandma to the doctor and she tells me where she put the spare (because she found it laying around the house). I call my sister at home and ask her to look for it, but she can't find it.

Because I'm not sure what to do, I walk over to the Christian book store and make some more calls (on a phone which is running out of battery). My lovely, fellow co-worker asks me if I can work for her because she needs to go home. I tell her that I only have 2-hour parking and that I've already been in it for 2 1/2 hours and my keys are locked in it. She understands and I go back out to my car when I run into the ticket lady (the woman who goes around giving parking tickets to everyone) and she is super friendly and tells me that there is a number you can call that will provide free car emergency help. I call and they are "on their way." My mom finally calls me back and she wants to come to where I am to wait with me (she was just down the street). We wait and wait and wait and then my mom says I should call, so, what did I do? I call the free help place and their ETA is about 30 minutes. Mom says that she just take me home and we'll search the house for the key and come back.

15 minutes later, we're back at my car (with my spare key) and my mom drops my great-grandma and I off (because I'm heading over to Ana's house to play guitar together and my g-g lives near her). We get in and then...

The car doesn't start.

Yep, I left the lights on.


"Not you, Grammy."

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I ended up laughing.

I call my uncle, Pastor Dale (Stephen's dad), because he is usually downtown and would most likely have jumper cables. Well, he is 20 minutes away. However, he is the sweetest guy and is on his way.

Side note: I asked several guys if they had jumper cables and none did. Can you believe it? I think every guy should carry jumper cables. They're on my Christmas list.

Back to the story: Grammy and I made the most of our time stuck in the car together by me bringing out my baby (Talyor) and hitting a few notes.

My uncle comes and starts my engine and I remember that I'm almost out of gas. We go to the closest station and it's shut down for technical problems. We got to a gas station that actually had gas before I ran out of mine.

Needless to say, I got Grammy home safely, but never made it to Ana's.

One of my problems is that I rush around without thinking. I'm going, going, gone. I need to slow down and chill out. My day went totally different than I had planned.

This is just one example of how I may think I know how my day will go, but God is really the only one who does (because He planned it!).

James 4:13-15 "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'"

We make our plans, but God directs our steps and paths to fulfill His plans.

As I dropped Grammy off, she said to me, "Julianne, I am always praying for you, however, I'll add a few more things in those prayers."

Formatting Difficulties

I had to take off those two self-quizzes to format my template right. That means the comments had to go too. Bummer...

Monday, December 12, 2005


Here is a good review from Steve Camp (great man of God and musician).
From the Front Row review of the enchanting, Narnia

Beautiful imagery, some great acting, amazing animation/special effects, vivid characters, and staying true to Lewis’s original tome make Narnia wonderful holiday movie entertainment… safe for the whole family.

The Score
The music of Narnia, written and conducted by Harry Gregson-Williams, was also very well done (though it didn’t rise to his magnificent score for “Kingdom of Heaven”). It isn’t David Shore’s stirring music of Lord of the Rings, but for the most part it suits the film with intimacy and tenderness. What is strangely missing for a release of the magnitude of Narnia, was a memorable theme melody and a signature song that really captured the movies essence. In songwriting we call it “the hook.” Most great films have associated with it an unmistakable, powerful song or songs with a theme melody woven throughout that brings the audience to a “familiar and memorable place.” Such songs usually become “classics” or “standards.” There should have been no shortage of songwriters who would have leaped at the chance, if asked, to deliver an award winning original composition and performance (i.e., Phil Collins, Elton John, Bryan Adams, Sting, Paul McCartney, Annie Lenox, Andre B! ocelli to name a few). Alanis Morissette does deliver a very good vocal performance on a song called, “Wunderkind” which is only introduced while the credits are rolling. However, it doesn’t rise to what is expected for a film of this importance.

The Cast
Lucy (Georgie Henley) and the Witch (Tilda Swinton) stole any scene they were in. They were brilliant. However, Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) delievered very weak, amateurish performances at best. Liam Neilson in anyone’s book was nothing short of tremendous as the voice of Aslan.

Theology and Allegory
I appreciate good writing, literature, and the use of allegory in story to drive home a powerful message. Lewis does that here… But as good as his imagery and allegory is throughout “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” it is not the message of the biblical gospel hidden within the allegory.

As I have read through several reviews of this film by well respected Christian thinkers, bloggers, theologues and Biblicists, it’s stupefying how any one of them could think that Lewis’s allegorical story was “an atoning death, retell the story of Christ's passion and resurrection. This story of salvation history is told with theological precision and with a continuous eye on the Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus.” (Leland Ryken commenting on Lewis's tome. I usually appreciate Leland Ryken’s theological insights and writings very much; but his comments here seem to be based on romanticized fantasy—instead of sound biblical theology.)

Making a Deal with The Devil...
What Lewis, in classical theological terms, portrays in Narnia is called, *The Ransom Theory of the atonement. The Ransom Theory in short is: The notion that it was the devil who made the cross necessary, by Christ being offered to him as a ransom for all of lost humanity. It was a payment made to the devil, by Christ, for the salvation of mankind. This is of course is untrue according to the Scriptures.

Berkhof writes when commenting on this utter folly and specious teaching: “Christ offered Himself as a ransom to Satan, and Satan accepted the ransom without realizing that he would not be able to retain his hold on Christ because of the latter's divine power and holiness. . . Thus the souls of all men - even of those in Hades - were set free from the power of Satan.”

To illustrate: Lewis has Aslan making a deal with the Queen of Narnia (the Witch) for Edmund’s blood. Aslan meets with The Witch to strike a deal with her. The deal being: he agrees to willingly submit to the Witch’s thirst for his death by dying in Edmund’s place on the stone altar of The Witch. The Witch is portrayed as having power over Aslan by shaving his mane from his head, her demonic-like followers beating him, and then striking him dead with the thrust of her knife into his heart. She then in the aftermath of his death proceeds to mock him before his followers, by wearing the remains of his shaved mane as a cloak in battle. Within this moving allegorical picture, what is being depicted is untrue biblically. Unpacking the biblical meaning from the allegory leaves one to believe that Satan deceived Christ into making a deal for the soul of a man (in ! Lewis’s world Aslan dies for one mischievous, cowardly, deceived boy named Edmund. Did not the rest of Narnia need redemption?); Christ then surrendered His will to Satan in that brokered agreement; the cross was then Satan’s blind victory over the Son of God, and lastly, Satan thought he had defeated Christ on the cross as all of his hellish hosts rejoiced in seeing the Son of Man killed.

*UPDATE: (In fairness to Lewis, I haven't been able to find, yet, where Lewis wrote about the ransom theory. However, what was depicted in tome and film in LWW portrayed a ransom theory view. The confusing facts here are significant: though he may not have written on the ransom theory, he certainly gives credence to it in the LWW. What is the reality? Still investigating.)

The Ransom Theory is Unbiblical (for a few obvious reasons)
1. Satan is depicted as being equal in power to Christ. A dualistic struggle of good vs evil.

2. Satan is not subject to God's sovereignty, but has the ability as "lord of this earth" to negotiate a settlement where God is beholding to him for the souls of men.

3. God has ultimately defeated Satan by deception not by divine decree.

4. The nature of Christ is diminished; the nature of Satan is elevated; the nature of God is confused; and the nature of the cross is perverted.

Here's the Truth of It
The cross was never referred to by the Lord or any of the Apostles as a ransom paid by Christ to Satan. But they did speak about the cross as a vicarious propitiatory sacrifice, meeting the demands of the law, fulfilling all righteousness, appeasing God’s wrath, an atonement for the sins of the elect, and the expiation of guilt.

I liked the movie very much—as a movie of allegorical fiction with underpinning moral tones (don’t lie, don’t deceive, be loyal to your family, overcome evil with good, etc.) BUT, when "the gospel" behind Lewis's allegory is examined theologically, it is not the biblical view.

Enjoy the film; read your Bibles; and don't confuse the two.
From the Front Row,

PS - For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. -Leviticus 17:11

"That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3). Atonement is the cornerstone of all theology, being the "stone that the builders rejected" which has now become the cornerstone (Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7; quoting Paslm 118:22). The content of theology is the power in the blood. It is the hub, made indefectibly strong by Christ's resurrection, from which all the spokes of theology derive." - Paul F.M. Zahl

Visit CampOnThis Blog

Help! I'm going Hyper!

Check out Purgatorio's latest post: 25 warning signs that you might be obsessing about Calvinism

Too funny!

Warning: You have got to read this blog if you want a good laugh, but only if you can take this kind of humor (meaning, being able to laugh at yourself). ;)

Saturday, December 10, 2005


There has been a lack of posts around here because of two reasons. First, this last week was finals at school and almost every minute was spent studying. Second, I have recently discovered the addiction to MySpace and have had to force myself to not check it every half hour to see if someone has left a message or comment. The high of seeing "NEW MESSAGES!" keeps me hooked and exhilarated. However, I've seen a decrease in my time spent with more meaningful subjects. I'm considering shutting my account off completely. Thank you for hanging in there for me...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

50 years...what's the big deal?

Navy beats Army strong. Oh well, there's always next year...

 be beat by Navy again...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Happy 10 Month Birthday, SempRef!

...Okay, so it's been 10 months Semper Reformanda has been up and running. The Pyro has inspired me to take a good look and inventory of how these 10 months have gone.

It all started in February when the winds were blowing and the rain was raining. I was probably inside my warm, cozy home sipping green tea and "surfing" the web when I was supposed to be working on some paper for school. When I ran across Tim Challies' blog and read through it. Here was a guy who knew what he knew and wrote what he knew. If anyone's confused, that last sentence is a good thing. Anyway, through his blog and a few select others, I came across many godly blogs which had a way of focusing my attention on God, His attributes, and the importance of why they are important to be focused on.

Consequently, I felt the urge to have my own little "dwelling" in the suburbs of space. I set out my goals for the blog in my very first post, Why Blog?
They were:
  • to help equip the saints
  • bring glory to our much worthy God
  • to be encouraged by you (the reader and commenter)
  • to write down my sheep-like thoughts

I know for sure that my last point has been very successful. On top of this, some unexpected friendships have come out of my blog. Rand has been a huge encouragement to me and my walk towards truth. Micah and I started "Blog the Word" which didn't go too far, but nonetheless, was fun (if you can, add another chapter). Jessica is a wonderful lady my own age who loves theology as well. Frank Martens has a great sense of humor with a brain to back it up (many of us lack the brain). He also gets my sense of humor (I think!). Through Frank, I met his sister, Joanna, and we hit it right off. I don't get to talk to Aron that much, but he has some awesome things to read. I even have a blog friend who attends The Master's College; Adam. He is one lucky fellow.

There are also some non-unexpected friends here as well; my "real" friends. Daniel has been here from the begining giving his appreciated analytical perspective. My cousin, Stephen, is my best guy friend and is a great writer. Brian has been another huge encouragement and influence in my life. His blog is wonderful (when he updates it). Jason and the other Brian have just recently set up their very own blogs, check them out. For some lighter reading, check out Jordan's blog. My ex-co-worker and friend, Ana, also has a blog. Oh, and how could I forget my other cousin, Matador. There are no words to describe his blog. He is isolated from our family because he was shunned from our church (for obvious reasons). He is now serving time on the East Coast. (If you are new to my blog, I apologize now for any sarcastic comments which might escape me). If I fogot any of you, I profusely apologize.

Some amazing things have happened in my life since this blog has been intact. The biggest yet is my three month stint in Bazil on the Amazon River. There I worked on a medical boat, built churches, and worked with children and adolescents. It has been, by far, the best experience of my life. I wrote a bit while I was there in five different posts; Hello from Brasil!, Update, Bom Dia, Another Update, and Tooth Pulling.

I wrote about Calvinism and Arminianism for a school paper, and posted it here. The comments that followed were thought provoking. Incidentally, I met Daniel (different one) who disagreed with my conclusions and shared his views of Molinism. Some other philosophers who visit this blog are: Magnum, Antonio, and Philosapologist.

The post which received the most comments was Inconsistant Theology which was an open forum of different theologies. With 101 comments, there is ample amount of opinions.

In these 10 months, I have never given up an opportunity to brag about my little theologian girl, Ginger. I posted one of her most serious pictures.

Sometimes I wonder where I'd be without my blog. Let's just say that I spend one hour a day either working on my own or looking at others. After 10 months, that's 300 days which means I spent an average of 300 hours on this thing since February. What could have I done in that time? Would it have been more God-glorifying or saint-edifying or more encouraging than this has been? Has this blog been an instrument for God? Could it have been more Christ-centered and God-magnifying? Yes. I believe that even this blog can be semper reformanda, always reforming.

This is where you, my precious readers, come in. In what ways can Semper Reformanda be more intentional and Kingdom-minded?