Scam Alert

This morning, I received this email —

How are you doing,I hope all is well with you and family. I’m sorry for not informing you earlier about my trip to England for a Seminar,unfortunately, i misplaced my wallet on my way back to the Airport. I had no option but to send you an e-mail because i have no money to call and my phone does not work here.

I need a favor from you because i’m completely stranded and i need you to assist me with a soft loan of $1,450 to sort myself out of this mess and help myself return back home. Fortunately,there are western union and moneygram outlets here in the Airport.

I will appreciate whatever you can help me with and i promise to refund the money back to you as soon as i return. Kindly help me send the money through the closest  moneygram  or western union outlet  to you using my complete details below:

Name :[FRIEND]
Address: 7 Wardour Street London W1F 8ZD
City:London
Country:UK

Please help me to make the transfer as soon it’s convenient for you and once you have it sent, send me the money transfer control number with details used in sending it.

God bless you

/s/[FRIEND]

I checked the email address, and it was my friend’s actual email address. We’d corresponded only a few days ago, so I was sure it was current. The punctuation is bad, but it’s not Nigerian scam bad — and my friend is not the greatest punctuater (and who would be after having his billfold stolen?).

But it just didn’t seem right. The cc: line in the email showed my friend’s own address and not mine, meaning this had been blind copied to other people, who might double up the payment. If he was in an airport, why the need for money? He surely already had his return ticket bought! And why no phone number?

And so I checked with a relative of his in town and learn that, indeed, it’s a scam. Someone had hacked into his Hotmail email account.

Therefore, if you receive a similar email, make a few phone calls. Don’t let the scammers get you. They’re not all bad spellers from Nigeria.

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Sex, Marriage and Miss California: Modesty, Part 2

meatcutsWell, I had thought I’d finished this series, when this strange coincidence happened. You see, Tim Archer posted an article about how to dress for church called “How should we then dress?” On the same day, Mike Adams posted a column on the same question, called “Sunday’s Breast.” Adams writes,

But last Sunday at church I was slightly embarrassed in front of my guests. The source of my embarrassment was all of the women who came to the service dressed like they had been out at a bar. A lot of these women know that they can meet higher quality men at church than at a bar. But some don’t have enough sense to change clothes after making the transition from a bar to a church sanctuary.

One of the worst offenders was seated one row in front of us. She wasn’t like all of the other women who were content merely to show their breasts. She had to wear a dress that was thin enough to let the whole congregation know she wears thong underwear. It was even more disturbing than the 13-year olds who wear torn Daisy Dukes instead of wearing a bra.

When women come to church dressed like this they seldom stop to think that a recovering sex addict might be in the congregation. And they seldom stop to think that there are married men in the congregation who are struggling with lust issues. The church should be a place where men can come to seek help as they battle these temptations. It’s a shame that some of the temptations are following them into the church and pulling up a chair right beside them.

You’ll be surprised to learn that I disagree with Adams. To explain why, I need to tell a story. Continue reading

Backgrounds of the Restoration Movement: Where Do We Go From Here?

passioncartoonThe books on how to teach adult Bible classes all say you need to end with an application: how do we apply these lessons to our lives? It’s good to gain a perspective from history because it helps us separate culture from command and accident from design. That doesn’t tell us what to do with the conclusions.

We’ve seen that the 20th Century Churches of Christ were the very opposite of the movement that Stone and the Campbells worked to establish, with the original teachings misrepresented, suppressed, and ultimately forgotten. For a time, we pretended to have no history at all — as though somehow the church founded by Peter in AD 33 lept across the pages of history to the present with no intervening events at all — other than a series of digressions by “the denominations.”  It’s just not true.

More recently, many have sought to wrap themselves in the cloak of Restorationism, as though being in the Restoration Movement had always been about restoring First Century practices, rather than First Century unity built on faith in Jesus.

It’s easy to become a bit arrogant and look down on our spiritual fathers of the last century as though they accomplished nothing of merit. But here we are in a Church of Christ Bible class — not a Baptist or Methodist Bible class — and we should ask ourselves why we’re here? What did the 20th Century Churches of Christ get right? Continue reading

Neo-Calvinism: Abraham Kuyper, Criticisms, Part 3

Common grace

For [Kuyper] common grace is primarily a grace directed to the redemption of the cosmos and culture. By rooting this doctrine in the divine decree of predestination he was able to construct a system whereby God’s plan for His creation is realized along a double track: the elect are brought to salvation by Christ as Mediator of redemption (particular grace) and the cosmos with all its potential for culture is redeemed by Christ as Mediator of creation (common grace). Such a conception had to lead to an essentially optimistic view of culture and the world. Not that Kuyper himself lost sight of sin and its awful consequences for the human race and the cosmos. He deeply believed in the antithesis and thus in the fundamental difference between common and particular grace.

I’m good with optimism. I think anyone who is on God’s side should believe he’s on the winning team — not just that he’ll be saved in the end, but that God will accomplish his entire agenda in time. Continue reading

Empty Nest

empty nestWell, my youngest is now settled into life as a Harding freshman, my oldest (of 4) just finished a week-long visit, and my wife and I are now officially empty nesters. I have one at Harding, one at Auburn, one in the Miami graduate law school for taxation, and one who is actually working for living and entirely on his own. It’s a very strange (and quiet) feeling.

What does it mean for the blog? Well, I doubt that it means more posts per day. I tried that a while back. Not a good idea. In fact, I’m glad GraceConversation is over so I only have to write for one blog. It was fun, but all the fun I could stand.

It could mean that I have less time to post. I mean, you should see my wife’s honey-do list! The kids had kept her pretty distracted, but that’s pretty much over I think. Continue reading

Neo-Calvinism: Abraham Kuyper, Criticisms, Part 2

Douma points out that the Hebrew verb abad means simply to cultivate a field. This labour is required of man if he is to eat (Gen.1:29; 2:5; 3:17ff.). What these verses seem to tell us is that there is a connection between working and eating and that sin has made work difficult.

Hmm … The passage under consideration is —

(Gen 2:15)  The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

And there are two commands: to “work” (‘abad) the Garden and to “take care” (shamar) of it. I’ll grant that ‘abad means to work the ground in the sense of tilling the ground — that is, to make it produce food. It’s a utilitarian verb. But shamar shows up in verses such as —

(Gen 3:24)  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard [shamar] the way to the tree of life.

(Gen 4:9)  Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper [shamar]?”

(Gen 6:19)  You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep [shamar] them alive with you.

(Gen 18:19)  For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep [shamar] the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

(Gen 28:15)  “I am with you and will watch over [shamar] you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Adam was commanded to care for the Garden in the sense of guarding it, protecting it, or honoring it. This is obviously quite different from a command merely to make it productive. It means to keep safe. Plainly, Kuyper’s critics aren’t being fair with the text. Continue reading

Neo-Calvinism: Abraham Kuyper, Criticisms, Part 1

Pronk notes that there certain problems arose with Kuyper’s theology.

Prior to Kuyper the Reformed, while not denying that the church has a task in society, put the emphasis on the salvation of sinners. Preaching for the Old School Calvinists, therefore dealt with the great Biblical themes of repentance — and then not just daily repentance of believers, but also the initial act of repentance on the part of the unconverted in the church — faith, the new birth, justification, sanctification and so on. But with Kuyper a shift in emphasis took place. Not what the Holy Spirit works in sinners’ hearts through the Word, but what Christians should do to redeem society and culture — that became the important thing.

Now, we considered this problem in the earlier posts on the Third and Fourth Great Awakenings. We Christians have a tendency to emphasize either personal salvation or mission to the world. For some reason, Christians struggle to keep these two in balance.

Therefore, in America, we see churches that all about personal evangelism or all about social justice, but virtually none that manage to do both. Of course, among 19th Century Calvinists, many wouldn’t have seen the urgency of evangelism at all, as some would believe that God elects and God saves and our preaching has nothing to do with it. Continue reading