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Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Short Essay on the Inerrancy and Inspiration of Scripture

I am going to preface this particular post with a disclaimer.  This was an essay written for my Theology 201 class at Liberty University and as such there was s very strict word length, which I still ended up being above, although I substantially cut some of the words used.  This is in no way a complete and thorough evaluation of Inerrancy and Inspiration, but I do believe it presents some points worth considering.  With this disclaimer, I do hope you will read over my humble thoughts, and will be blessed. 

In Christ,
Paul Emery


Short Essay on Inerrancy and Inspiration

            The challenges of inerrancy and inspiration have plagued the Church for millennium.  Secularists and liberal theologians will challenge the entirety of Scripture while arguing that the Bible is still a good moral authority.  Even pastors in denominations that are fairly conservative will challenge the need for an inerrant and inspired account of God’s word.  In Theology for Today Dr. Towns quotes Dr. Robert Bratcher who stated, “To invest the Bible with qualities of inerrancy and infallibility is to idolatrize it, to transform it into a false God.”[1]   As the Bible is the Word of God, it seems not plausible, but necessary for the Bible to be authoritative, inerrant and inspired.

            2 Peter 1:3 says “seeing that His divine power has granted to use everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence”.  Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it;” Each of these two verses contains at least one very important word, “everything” in 2 Peter 1:3, and “all” in Joshua1:8. The Bible is what should direct the lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for every believer, and truly for all people.

As the very Word of God, the authority of the Bible is two-fold.  Christ, who was God in the flesh, used Scripture as He battled against Satan during His forty days in the desert.  For each of the tests Satan placed before Him the Son of God responded with Scripture to respond to each temptation (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; Luke 4:4, 8, 12). In His use of the Scripture, Christ validated the “ontological authority” of the Scripture.  The Bible also obtains it’s authority from God, Himself.  “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),” (2 Timothy 3:16).  Scripture is God breathed, just as His spirit was put into man in Creation through the breath of God (Genesis 2:7).

Dr. Towns gives a great definition of Inspiration in relation to the Scriptures in his book Theology for Today, “Inspiration is the guidance or influence of the Holy Spirit on the human writers of Scripture so that God controlled them in such a way that what they wrote was exactly what God wanted them to write without error” (Towns 2001, 59).  Inspiration of the Scripture is directly taught by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16.  Christ supported the inspiration of the Scriptures in Matthew 5:17-18 when He addresses that He came to “fulfill the law” (Matthew 5:17), how until “heaven and earth pass away” not one portion of the law “will pass away” (Matthew 5:18).  Inspiration or dictation of God is also supported in 2 Peter 1:21 and 1 Corinthians 2:13.

P.F. Feinberg has a fairly solid definition of inerrancy.  “When all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms” (Elwell 2001, 156).  In his introduction to the Gospel he compiled Luke explains how he “carefully investigated everything from the first” (Luke 1:3).  Since God has provided us “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) the information has to be inerrant, and completely truthful.  Again in Matthew 5:18 Christ says: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”

There are four major arguments that Feinberg identifies when it comes to the discussion on inerrancy.  The first argument Feinberg identifies is “the Biblical Argument”.  In this argument the premise is that Scripture itself teaches its inerrancy, even if the word itself is never used.  This draws back to the point in the beginning of this essay that the Scripture cannot be a good book or profitable in some of its teaching and not in others because the Bible itself proclaims that “Every Scripture is God-breathed”.  This argument however, would seem to be easily rejected by those who are outside of the faith because it can appear as circular reasoning.  The second argument is “the Historical Argument”.  Many secularists and liberal theologians will say that the cannon of Scripture was not created until the Council of Nicaea.  In this argument though there is abundant evidence of the quotation of Scripture all the way back to 2nd century Christian fathers as Dr. Towns points out in Theology for Today, pg. 78-79.    

Some would claim that the last two arguments are the weakest.  In the “Epistemological Argument” the challenge is that some of the scripture is not inerrant then there can be no sure indication of which portion is inerrant, and which portion is not.  “The Slippery Slope Argument” would then go a step further and argue that if you give up on inerrancy other doctrines will be more easily rejected.  This seems to be the most appropriate argument because what has been demonstrated in many mainline denominations that have moved into areas of much greater concern for example the Episcopalian Church and their acceptance of homosexuality after rejecting the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

The relationship between inspiration and inerrancy is that of a symbiotic relationship.  If the Scripture is indeed “inspired by God” who is perfect then the Words which He chose for His revelation must be inerrant not just as it relates to “faith and practice” but as Dr. Towns attests "There was no error in grammar, historical locations, sociological understanding mathematics, geology, geometry, or geography” (Towns 2001, 59).  If even one portion of Scripture is not inerrant, then all of Scripture needs brought into question as to whether it could be breathed by God. 

In taking the view of the absolute authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of Scripture means that one accepts it in its entirety as Peter suggests, that the Scripture is the revelation of Christ and therefore has “granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3).  It also verifies the Apostle Paul’s claim that the purpose of Scripture is “profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),” (2 Timothy 3:16).  The Scripture is God’s perfect revelation to us, and as such will always point us to living for God's glory.

Bibliography

Blum, Edwin, Jeremy Royal Howard, and Holman Bible Editorial Staff, eds. Hcsb Study Bible, Black Genuine Leather. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2010.




Feinberg, Paul, ed. "Inerrancy and Infallibility of Bible." In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed, edited by Walter A. Elwell, 156-59. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001.




Ryrie, Charles C., ed. Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update. Expanded ed. Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1995.




Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today. 2nd ed. Nashville, Tenn.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2001.




Zondervan. Amplified Bible. Reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.



[1] Robert Bratcher, “Biblical Authority for the Church Today,” Christianity Today, (May 29, 1981): Quoted in Elmer Towns, Theology for Today. (Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2008), 65


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Family Update

Here is a quick update for our family.........


                                                                                            


   Things are going really well for us, we have truly been blessed this month when Paul was offered a full time job.  This is such a blessing for us as he has been looking for full time work for 3 years!  Paul was also accepted to attend Liberty University and is attending online and is doing very well, especially considering his VERY busy schedule!

                                                                         

  Also, we adopted a sweet puppy from dear friends, we have named her Lucy, after Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia, which we are in the middle of reading as a family and loving.  She is a lab/ baset hound mix and totally acts it! 

                                                                           

   On another front, our two middles, Azariah and Katy have started school.  I figured that if I mainly focus on Azariah, Katy can watch and learn so next year will mainly be overview and expanding on what she didn't catch this year. 
     This summer semester has brought so much change and growth for myself already thus far and I am excited to see what more the Lord has in store!  I started reading a book called "Forgive and Love Again" for the summer Bible study session and it has been wonderful and has shed light on so much things in my life.  I continue to pray that I don't lose this zeal and go back to being the person I was yesterday, and the day before....
    Another bit of good news for our extended family is that we have had 3 nieces and 1 nephew born this past year, the oldest being my niece Kenzi who will be 1 in October.  We are so excited and happy for our siblings and their families.  On that same note, my sister in love, Teresa and her hubby Justin are in the process of adopting!!!  At this current point, they are pulling their funds together, as every adoptive couple has to and are waiting for a birth mother to pick them as the blessed parents!!
   On to the not so heart warming news..... Would you please join us in prayer as another sister in love, Sonia has been diagnosed with cancer and her outlook is not what anyone would want.  They are currently traveling and looking into some other options as they clinic they were at said that there wasn't anything else they could do for them. 
   My mom is another beautiful woman I would like to ask for prayer for, her name is Marcella.  She has a host of medical issues and is in the hospital right now with pneumonia.  At this point any small cold could turn into something serious.  It is so heartbreaking to watch my mother go through this, it is so excruciatingly hard for her, not only because of the constant scale 8 pain that she deals with but she is more comfortable doing for others and not being the one served...
   Our family is soooo important to us that that is why I chose to add those two prayer requests to my update, they both weight on our hearts daily.  I hope you don't mind. 


God Bless,

Jennifer

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Where are the Shepherds of the Family? A Book Review of Family Shepherds

            Since May of 2011 I have had the privilege of reviewing 14 books on various topics and of different genre, and from various publishers.  I am honored to have this opportunity, and humbled that my opinion is of value to you who have read my various book reviews.  I owe a special thanks to my friend and Christian Brother, Dave Jenkins, who was willing to contact Crossway and let them know that I would be honored to review for them as well.  Thank you Brother.  Dave and I have a lot of similar interests in books, and the book I’m writing on today is no different.  I have just finished reading Family Shepherds by Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr. 

            Dr. Baucham is a pastor at a Church here in my area.  He serves as the preaching pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church out of Spring, TX.  It is possible I have met Dr. Baucham as he is a shopper at a Christian retail location where I work.  I don’t recall if I have or not, but it is exciting that there is a chance if I haven’t I someday may.

            I usually select books that interest me to review for the various publishers.  I figure if I am going to take the time to read a book then it should be something that can give me some practical guidance for where I am at in my life.  Family Shepherds falls well within this category.  As a husband and father of five I am always trying to see the best way to serve and to lead my family in the path of righteousness and to deepen their love for our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.

            Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a passage that every father/family shepherd should know, for in it we see the very foundation of why we should be the family shepherd. 

            Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of you house and on your gates. (Englsih Standard Version 2001)

            One of the key words in this passage is the word “command”.  God did not ask us to teach our children, He commanded that we do so.  It is with this premise that Dr. Baucham begins to write Family Shepherds.  In Family Shepherds Dr. Baucham breaks the roles of the Family Shepherd into four key areas.  These four key areas break down like this; first, family discipleship and evangelism; second, marriage enrichment; third, the training and discipline of children; and finally, the need for lifestyle evaluation.  Since my job is to get you interested in the book we are only going to take a look at a couple of these areas momentarily, and then you’ll have to read the rest.

            I write out this key passage from Deuteronomy not just to challenge you, but to challenge myself.  This is how I felt as I began to read this newest book from Voddie.  How am I doing in discipleship and evangelism? Is my marriage stronger now than it was ten years ago? Am I training my children as I ought, teaching them the need of salvation for the deliverance of their sin, or am I teaching behavioral/morality changes without the necessary authority and need of Christ as LORD of their lives?  Dr. Baucham quotes Charles Hodge, a well known theologian in the mid-nineteenth century (Baucham, Voddie 2011) who said: “The character of the Church and of the state depends on the character of the family.  If religion dies out in the family, it cannot elsewhere be maintained.” (Hodge 1871)  If fathers are not doing the job God entrusted them with, then we are only leading to our own demise. 
            In his section on Family Discipleship and Evangelism Dr. Baucham discusses the benefit and purpose of having a family catechism.  The idea of a catechism has been part of the Church for probably centuries, and was used by Catholic and Protestant Theologians alike.  To be honest when I first saw this chapter on catechism I was about ready to skip it.  However, I decided to read it because I was curious about what Dr. Baucham’s thoughts where on this idea.
            First, for those who maybe aren’t familiar with the term catechism let me first use Dr. Baucham’s explanation.  “It is simply a pedagogical method employing questions and answers to teach a set body of knowledge.  Ultimately, it is a means of teaching Christian doctrine in a concise, repetitive manner. (Baucham, Voddie 2011)  Although a very foreign concept in today’s modern day Protestants the catechism was used by great Protestant theologians such as Martin Luther and Jonathan Edwards.  I am blessed to have in my possession a copy of Luther’s small catechism that belonged to my father.  My wife and I are in discussion in to implementing a catechism in our house thanks to this section of Family Shepherds.
            Another powerful section of Family Shepherds is the section on the training and discipline of children.  This is a very hotly contested area especially in light of the post-modern day view of “love and tolerance”.  So often we hear people say we shouldn’t judge, we need to let our children make their own decisions, so forth and so forth.  To the secular world the very idea of a “family shepherd” is counter-intuitive, yet as we see crime rates grow, never has something been more important than the role of fathers raising their children.
            In Christianity especially there are two authors who have addressed the specific topic of discipline and training of children; Michael Pearl and his book To Train a Child and Tedd Tripp and his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  Again I own a copy of both of these books so when I came to chapter 10 I came to it with an understanding of both of the trains of thought represented by these two authors.  Between these two authors there is a major difference that I noticed as did Voddie.  First Michael Pearl has the philosophy that “training doesn’t necessarily require that the trainee has reason; even mice and rats can be trained to respond to stimuli.” (Pearl 1994)  However, Tedd Tripp starts off his book this way, “The Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life.” (Tripp 1995)
            One doesn’t have to look very far to spot the vast difference between these two authors.  Michael Pearl believes you can teach behavior through stimuli while Tedd Tripp points to the fact that the heart is the control center of a person’s life which means to train them up you must address the heart.  In Family Shepherds Dr. Baucham says this, “We must have a grasp on our children’s greatest need if we ever hope to see it met.” (Baucham, Voddie 2011)  I would be lying to say that this did not strike me right between the eyes.  So often when I train or discipline my children, I’m not focusing on the control center of their lives, their hearts, I’m focusing on what makes me happy. 
            If we as fathers are only focusing on behavior or morals, then we do not love our children as Christ loved us.  If we are focusing on behavior or morals then we are not training up our children to love the LORD with all of their heart and all their soul and all their might.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Englsih Standard Version 2001) Matthew 12:34 says, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Englsih Standard Version 2001)  If we as fathers do not address the heart of our children, and strive to lead them to saving faith in Jesus Christ, then we are shepherds who have failed.  Dr. Baucham quotes the great Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards (Baucham, Voddie 2011) who said, “How few are there who are thorough in maintaining order and government in their families! How is family-government in a great measure vanished! And how many are as likely to bring a curse upon their families, as Eli.” (Edwards 1835)
Dr. Baucham is a huge proponent of the age-integrated congregation. What this means is that his Church does not practice such things as nursery, children’s church, youth group, or even Men or Women’s Bible studies, although they do have a monthly Men’s meeting. I do not agree with Dr. Baucham on this of course, and in fact want to point out what I see as a slight contradiction in his book.  First, he says this:
Virtually all the debate over the discipleship of young people begins with the assumption that church structures and programs such as the nursery, children’s church, Sunday school, and youth group are foundational discipleship tools and whatever happens must take place within that framework. (Baucham, Voddie 2011)
I disagree with this assumption, and would in fact argue that these programs and church structures are helpful, and can serve as a supplemental, not a foundational discipleship tool.  More so I believe that Dr. Baucham contradicts himself only three pages later when he says, “We do not rely either on the pulpit or on the home.  Both institutions are charged to play their role.” (Baucham, Voddie 2011)  This being said however, I do find this to be a book that every Church leader, father, mother, and Church staff should read.  I agree with the premise that discipleship ultimately rests in the home.  As one looks at the direction society is taking there is no doubt in my mind that it is time for the father to be his family’s shepherd. 
From where I stand, even though I may not agree with everything that Dr. Voddie Baucham believes I still see this book as a must read, and gladly rate it 5 out of 5.  I’m honored to have added this book to my library and look forward to reading through it again and again as Dr. Baucham helps teach me and all men how to be Family Shepherds.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Works Cited

Baucham, Voddie. Family Shepherds. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.
Edwards, Jonathan. "Christian Cautions: or, The Necessity of Self-Examination." In The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 1:183. New York: Daniel Appleton and Co., 1835.
Englsih Standard Version. Crossway Bibles, 2001.
Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. Vol. 3. New York: C. Scribner, 1871.
Pearl, Michael. To Train Up a Child. Pleasantville: NGJ Ministries, 1994.
Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding a Child's Heart. Wapwallopen: Shpherd Press, 1995.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Coming back to Blogging

Wow, it really has been some time since I’ve done any blogging on here…. I will spare the drama and whining about why.  I’ll just say that I’ve really been having a hard time feeling like I have anything to offer you, the reader.  I am hoping to work on that and just post what I feel led to post and not be a perfectionist about it.  Ugh, I am realizing that I have put this kind of post on here too many times, well this is the last ;) If I’m not on, well, you know life, it’s what happens between plans ;)  But do know that I am going to try even harder to blog more frequently, to be a blessing to you... 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An interview with Dr. Michael O'Donnell regarding "What A Son Needs From His Dad"

Here in the next few days I will be posting my newest book review.  Thanks to Bethany House Publishers I had the privilege of reviewing Dr. O'Donnell's book What A Son Needs From His Dad.  Before I share the book review I would like to share a Q&A between Bethany House and Dr. Michael O'Donnell.

I hope you enjoy!

Paul

Q U E S T I O N S & A N S W E R S W I T H  M I C H A E L  A . O ’ D O N N E L L , P h D




 1. Why is your book What a Son Needs from His Dad an important resource for fathers?

Research now confirms what the Bible has known all along—that the more nurturing the father the more masculine the son. In short, boys derive their sense of manhood from their fathers. Thus, fathers need to know how to be properly engaged in the life of their sons so that they feel approved and admired in their burgeoning masculinity. In part, that’s what I’ve attempted to provide for dads: what their sons need from them.



2. You’ve worked with fathers and researched the role of fathering for more than twenty years and have authored nearly ten books on the subject. Why did you write this particular one for dads?

Because research shows the average father spends less than thirty-seven seconds a day of meaningful interaction with his sons; and that’s simply not going to get the job done! A father needs to have tangible, concrete examples of what an effective dad looks like. Unfortunately, many men can no longer rely on their own fathers for examples on how to do fathering commendably in the twenty-first century. This is largely due to “father absence” or detached and distant dads. Thus, I was motivated to provide men with solid and practical ideas on how to give their sons what they need so that they break that cycle of intergenerational pathology.



3. What’s the biggest struggle most fathers face?

Knowing how best to model the right behaviors for their sons to emulate and to follow. Men are generally trained for success in business; but unfortunately, they are not given the tools necessary with which to succeed in the whole arena of parenting.



4. Some of our fathers listening today might not be familiar with nurturance. What is it and what should fathers know about it?

According to my colleague and fathering expert, Ken Canfield, nurturance is expressed by attitudes, words, and actions. Nurturance can even be nonverbal, but should include affection (don’t forget to speak the language of love to your son, especially the words “I love you!”), support (be there for his athletic events, after-school programs, and any significant religious occasions, such as confirmation and baptism), comfort (tuck him into bed, hold him, rock him, soothe his wounds, both physical and emotional), and intimacy (don’t underestimate your actual physical presence; sons tell us that having their father in the next room while they sleep is very reassuring to them).



5. Exactly what is the “The Real McCoy Dad”?

The “Real McCoy” Dad is easy to spot. He is characterized by supportiveness, acceptance, and love. In general, he has confidence in his child-rearing abilities. Although he is quite aware that he will make mistakes, he tries to have a relaxed, balanced, and positive approach to fatherhood. Most important, he is determined to do whatever it takes to be an effective father.



6. You write that much of what’s involved in giving our sons what they need comes down to telling them what we think and feel. Can you elaborate?

Thomas Lickona, author of Raising Good Children, calls this “teaching by telling.” Children can’t read our minds. They want to know something about their moral, religious, and cultural heritage from us. They shout, “Talk to me!” with every tug of the pant leg, every jump in the lap, and every tap on the shoulder.

You see, theirs is a confusing, mysterious, exciting, painful, and wonderful world. Your explanations, your values, your opinions are the only answers that matter—for now. Why squander your chance to impact them for life? Instead, use your time wisely.

Our sons need not only to see us living lives that are worth imitating, they also need to hear why we do it—the values and beliefs that guide our actions and shape our words.



7. What’s one of the hardest things for a father to do?

To talk about “the birds and the bees”! But I would remind dads who are listening to me right now that your son’s knowledge of sex begins long before that heart-to-heart talk between you and your son. You first teach your son about human sexuality by the way in which you relate to their mother.

What a son sees will be what he gets in the way of habits, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. It is truly amazing what children learn just by watching us; it is God’s plan, His way of preparing our sons for life. Again, the greatest gift a man can give his son is to love his mother! And, I might add, to love her in appropriate ways.



8. Any parting words for dads?

Yes, this prayer that I’ve adapted from Proverbs 3:1-4:

O, Lord, may their sons never forget your teachings. May their hearts keep your commandments. Then, Lord, you will give many more days and years to their lives and you will add your peace.

May kindness and truth never leave them, Lord. May they bind them about their necks and write them on their hearts.

Then, Lord, you will give them favor and a good reputation, both with you and with man.
Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Dad Who Has Forgotten How to Play: By Paul Emery

Today I was reading a book called What a Son Needs from His Dad by Dr. Michael O’Donnell.  I came across a chapter that actually got my attention called “All Work and No Play”.  It actually got me thinking quite a bit about who I have become.

            Growing up one of my favorite things to do was to play out in my back yard even by myself.  I had an old push-broom handle that served as my wand, scepter, sword, and staff.  With this tool I could vanquish all kinds of evil, never killing, only turning to stone.  I was King of wherever I wanted to be and I would spend hours outside in my little imaginary world or worlds (depending on the day).  Probably very few of my friends knew about this because I didn’t want to look foolish, but, other than the time I spent with my best friend, or even with my sisters, this was often some of my favorite times.
           
Tasha, Alicia, and I were great explorers and when our family went camping at a place called Johnson Bar there was a natural forest that we would enter and explore for hours at a time.  I don’t remember all of the different things we did, but it was always fun.  Okay, I do have to put in a little note here.  It was always fun until Alicia stepped into an underground hornet nest one summer, that wasn’t so much fun.
           
Tasha, Milly, and I, and possibly Alicia, had a game we liked to play on our trampoline.  We called it trampoline world.  How we entered into our cars was we had to jump into and out of our cars.   We did this to not only get into our cars, but into whatever we needed to get into.  We would then run around the trampoline just having a great time.  If we were in the house anything would become a great computer, or something that we would just create in our heads.  This entertained and excited us, and even though we had television in the home we still played.
           
I’m married now, and have 5 children, and I never play with them like I did.  There is this part of me that feels like it would be foolish to play that way, but those are the memories I remember the most.  I’ve become an old fuddy-duddy! Well, I think the time has come to start playing again.  Those are the memories I imagine my children remember as well.  It will take me some time to remember how much fun I use to have, time to not feel so awkward, but I think that is what I need to do to be a father who is not “all work and no play.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Journey Together Weekly Update #1 January 01 - 10, 2012

            So it seems like just yesterday Jen and I posted our first blog entitled “Our Journey Together”.  However, it has already been a week, and now it is time for us to post our first update.  I think that for me, this has been a decent week.  Spiritually speaking my focus has been fairly good.  I still haven’t been having the quiet time I desire to have on a daily basis, although, from time to time I do manage to get into the word some.

            Some of the strengths of this week though have been the fact that I have began a daily reading plan that should get me through the whole Bible in one year.  The plan I chose is a chronological plan.  How it has worked thus far is I use an application called “You Version” and is available for I-products, and also android products.  It is called the “Reading God’s Story” and was authored by George Guthrie.  This product is nice because this app has an audio feature, and so we have actually been listening to the readings on a daily basis every lunch time, and so the whole family is benefitting from this change.

            There are some things however, that I’m also needing to work on.  I have a quick temper, and therefore I have a tendency to yell when I don’t feel like Jen or the children are listening to me.  In my relationship with Jen this can cause conflict of course, and then I worry about my children seeing me in fear, instead of seeing the love I really do have for them.  Because of this tendency I have decided to try to memorize Proverbs 15:18 which states: “A hot tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife (Holman Christian Standard).” 

            Physically things are going very well.  I’m doing better at least doing my daily body tests, but I still need to do better on regular exercise.  The good thing I have done is I have begun to lower my caloric intake, and through that I have actually lost over 10lbs in the past two months.  I’m very excited to add a few extra notches to the belt, plus I’m already seeing small changes in my blood pressure and pulse.

            I have set myself a goal of losing 7 pounds in the next two months, although I may change that to 10.   This week I see myself needing to be more faithful in regular, 30 minute exercise segments.  I hope to continue on this path of weight loss, and see if I could realistically get at least half way towards my goal of over 80lbs of weight loss by the end of 2012. 

            Spiritually speaking, I am again going to try to focus on being more committed in my goal of having regular quiet time.  I have in fact sent out a request for suggestions as to which book of the Bible I should study for this next year as in-depth as I can go.  Thus far James and 2 Timothy have been suggested, but I’m more than willing for some additional suggestions. 

            Now for Jen’s update:

Good evening my dear friends, I hang my head in shame as I have to tell you this week did not go so well for me.  It started off good, but my depression got the better of me.  I don’t do well with change, and even the prospects of it, which it has been full of both….  I’m not going to go into details of it, but it started with a new routine, and sick little ones that totally hindered my perfectionist’s agenda. 
So, now that I think about it, I didn’t do as badly as I thought, but my depression did get pretty bad. For most of the week I had one or two sick babies that needed me what felt like every! Single! Moment! Which I’m not complaining about, it just makes it hard when I set such high goals for myself and not give myself the grace I truly need, instead of the emotional beatings.  Tomorrow I am really hoping to start getting up earlier and getting in the Word, and at least catching up a little on my Bible reading as I have fallen behind already; also, to spend a few minutes on my Wii.  I once read that if I at least show up, that is an improvement. I know that once I get back into the Word and just try to make sure I am not letting lil miss princess perfectionist get in the way and do the baby steps again, I’ll be on the right road. 
I am sooooooooooo tired of always being tired; I am so tired of the cycle of being too tired to work out and so then vice versa. I am so tired of not fitting in my largest clothes and not being able to find pretty ones because either they are all taken at the stores that I shop or they don’t make them in my size or the cost is astronomical at a reg store because of the darn size.  I am so tired of not being able to use my lap to put Bible on so I can take notes in church.  I am so tired of others, not all, but some, avoiding me because of my weight.  I am tired of being a cranky pants and so I am too focused on myself to be a blessing to others.  This has gotta stop!  So, that’s my update, and I’m stickin to it, lol.  Thank you for sitting through my lil pep talk, if that’s what that was…….

See you next week with the next update.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Importance of Sexual Purity: A Review of Every Single Man’s Battle By Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey

            I have had this book sitting on my shelf for probably five months.  After I received this book, I was wondering why on earth I would bother choosing this book to read.  Then just the previous day, I was talking to a friend of mine about needing to read this book, and I was informed that Stephen Arterburn went through a divorce.  This meant that I was even more hesitant to read a book, because after all, if it didn’t work for him, why read it?  As soon as I read over the introduction I knew I wasn’t giving Mr. Arterburn a fair chance.  I have now read this book, and will share my thoughts with you all.

            Before you read any further I want to put in a warning right here.  This book review is not meant for children.  I will be willingly addressing the issues that Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey address.  I will also be honest in this review as I see things that I can directly relate to and share my own insights and experiences. In this review, I will be direct but not graphic.

            The backdrop to Every Single Man’s Battle is Stephen Arterburn’s reentry into the dating world. Stephen writes this book to aid fellow brothers in Christ who may be single or recently divorced by challenging them to be men who flee from sexual temptation and pursue integrity. The author writes not from a place of superiority or strength, but to walk alongside men who may be struggling with sexual sin. In a society that devalues marriage, and the marriage bed, and instead advocates for shacking up, Mr. Arterburn in this book provides a helpful defense, and response to the sacredness of sex between one man and one woman in marriage.

            One of the most enjoyable aspects of Every Single Man’s Battle is Stephen, Fred and Mike’s courage in dealing with issues such as masturbation and porn. Many men struggle in silence with these issues but the authors provide helpful answers by highlighting how the point of intimacy is to grow closer together with our spouse not to fulfill our fantasies. On this point Stephen and Fred helpfully teach that when sexual intensity supersedes our sexual intimacy the marriage bed becomes defiled (Arterburn, Stoeker, Yorkey, 25).

Although I was raised in a solid, Biblically based, Christian home, I allowed myself to fall right into sexual temptation many times, and in many different ways.  I participated in pornography, masturbation, and premarital sex. Even after being married for over a decade, I continue to struggle with sexual purity and integrity. Rather than fleeing from sexual sin, I allowed myself to fill my mind with the drug of sex, and sought not my wife, but my fill of adultery.
           
            The authors in this book do not dance around the issues but press the reader to understand the issues they examine from a biblical worldview. For example in the first two chapters they cover the issue of sex, masturbation, and pornography, as well as accountability. They quote one pastor, Mason, who is in his thirties and single who says: “Single men should not live alone” (28). Chapter two makes the point that all Christian men should have godly male friends who pray with them and hold them accountable to the Word of God as they wage war against the sins of the flesh (Romans 13:11-14).

            In September, I choose not to be accountable in my war against sexual sin, and decided that I didn’t need anyone to help me.      In reflecting on this time in my life, I realized I acted like a fool. At this time, I was blessed with some money coming in from some work that I was doing, and instead of being wise with my money, I gave into my sin and went to a strip club.

At least one of my friends knows about that night where I gave in and chose to sin. On that night I was thinking about calling someone to talk to about my sinful thoughts, but ultimately talked myself out of calling one of my friends and instead gave in fully to my sin. Embracing my sin rather than forsaking my sin that night burned a lot of bridges that I had been working hard to build for a number of years.
           
            Men need accountability it really is that simple. Men need godly brothers to come along side of us, and to, quite frankly, give us a smack upside the head like Gibbs does to his fellow-team members in the original NCIS show. The Christian life is not a war we can engage in on our own. Men need to rise up and link arms with our brothers, and keep fighting.  Some people may say, “It was only a strip club”, but that strip club took my thoughts off the LORD, off my wife, and put them on an idol.  For a moment I chose to love my sin more then I love my Savior. As a result of this occurring, I have resolved in my heart to no more love my sin but to genuinely turn from my sin to Jesus Christ.  I now have godly brothers whom I will call, men who will hold me accountable, and smack me upside the head if I screw up again.  I’m very blessed by these brothers, these comrades! 

            Every Single Man’s Battle is only three chapters plus an introduction covering pages 6-54.  The remaining 129pages are a study guide for Every Man’s Battle which serves as an eight week study.  Even though this turned out more to be a Study then a book, the value of this book is great.  

            I rate this book as a must read for every Man, married or not!  The topics covered will address some topics that men have often preferred to keep secret.   I will actually be purchasing a copy of Every Man’s Battle in the near future with the intention of using this study guide as a spring board, not only for my own use, but one I plan to recommend to the men of my Church as well. 

            Men the battle for our integrity and our sexual purity is a must win battle, and one we cannot escape.  The Gospel provides the foundational reason why as men we can overcome sexual sin and be pure. Jesus died to give sinners new life, and as men who are redeemed through the blood of Jesus, and adopted as His sons, we have the ability through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to put sin to death and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. As men we desperately need to rise up to the challenge to love our wives as Christ loves the Church, and be men of integrity.  Men love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, and mind!  Let us fight this battle together!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our Journey Together: 10 Years of Ups and Downs

            To many of you this is going to be a totally different side of Jen and me then you have seen before.  We are going to social media not only to be hip, but to really reach out to our friends and family for hope and encouragement.  This weekly update is something that we feel is necessary, but also beneficial not only to us, but to others who might be struggling with similar issues. 

            On Sept. 01, 2011 Jen and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  Believe it or not, this is quite an accomplishment for us as any number of things could have split us apart over the years, especially my struggles which I’ve been very willing to share, and will continue to share in the blog.  We cannot and would not attribute our success thus far to anything but Christ.  The truth of the matter is that it is only through and because of Christ that we have managed to celebrate 10 years.  We have been blessed by family members who have prayed for us, and friends who have encouraged us through some very dark times.  In fact for people who know our story, they know that if Christ can keep us together, then He can certainly keep anyone else together.

            So why are Jen and I getting ready to share more than just our faith, but also our physical and spiritual struggles as well? Is it in the hopes that we will generate some more readers? Is it hoping that people will look at us and pat us on the back? In all honesty I hope none of these explanations are the reason, however, we are human beings, and just maybe our story will be of interest that it will generate readership.  However, this is not our main reason I feel.  Proverbs 27:17 says: “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.  New American Standard Bible (N.A.S.B). We both truly believe that it is our hope that these posts will serve as an encouragement for us, and that you all will also join us in encouragement.  We’ll start with Jen first.
To tell you the truth it has taken me a week to get the courage up to start writing this.  Even now I feel the urge to get up and “run.” I have tried losing weight for many years and it has yet to truly accomplish anything.  I’m not going try and put on rosy glasses as I tell you what my problem is, as I used to in hopes that someone who has gone or is going through the same issue.  My weight at the time of this picture was 259.

Jen at Weigh In
            I am an emotional eater, and I have been since I was a child.  I also have dealt with depression and sometimes severe depression.  Those who have dealt with depression know what a cycle it can become.  I start eating because I’m feeling down, or more often angry and then I get angry or depressed because of the sugar crash I’m on or just the simple fact that I know that I have just sinned by going to food for my comfort or filling my face because it has been an outlet for my anger and I just want to get revenge with whomever is hurting me, which is in reality myself.  So the cycle begins……

            The emotional eating is just a symptom of a bigger problem that I have only really started to see/realize.  I live very emotionally and find myself living in my anger and depression for the silliest reasons.  I have neglected to go to my Heavenly Father to let Him cleanse my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and overall mind. I have also neglected to go to the Word to be renewed.  Even though I KNOW the Truth about my calling, I KNOW the Truth about my blessed life I have unfortunately believed the lies of Satan for so long that they plague me often.  The most frequent lies are: 1. I am ugly 2. I will always be ugly 3. No one likes me 4.  I threw my life away when I quit school to marry and start a family 5. That I can’t handle my life, it is too crazy, busy, loud, and includes 9 too many kids!  6. Life isn’t fair, and it should be. 

            As I read those lies I shake my head in amazement at how ridiculous I can be, throwing hissy fits over things that I can’t change, nor would if I were in my right mind because I know the Lord is using every circumstance to draw me ever closer to Him and to mold me into His image. 

            My hope and prayer is that this time I will make changes that last. No, I mean that I let the Lord work in my heart changes that last a life time… There are so many things on my “To Change” list, but for now I have a few things that I am going to truly try to make habits: 1. To be in the Word daily, I am going to even try a reading plan to go along with the Bible Studies that I will desperately try to keep up with 2. To exercise daily and eat healthier 3. To speak softer  to my children. 

            With my personality, I will admit that I am looking for encouragement and kind yet firm rebuke when I’m not walking the walk.  Heck, I’m probably at my highest weight yet again, so it can’t get any worse than that as long as I’m trying, right? Hopefully next year I’ll have an after pic that looks amazing, and I finally won’t be embarrassed to do a family picture that includes myself.  Now to hand it over to Paul.
Paul at Weigh In

This strapping young man is me, Paul Emery, at a whopping 278lbs.  Yeah, that is quite the gut I’m sporting there huh? The truth of the matter is every time I get on a scale and see my weight I say, “I don’t feel that fat”.  As they always say though, a picture speaks a thousand words!

My physical fitness hasn’t been the only issue though this year.  The truth of the matter is although there have been some great spiritual things going on in my life over the past two years, there is still a lot of baggage and junk that I really need to let go of in my life.  Right now I’m feeling pretty good spiritually, however it was only three months ago that I again fell into a constant sin struggle I have in regards to sexual purity.

            I John 1:6-7 are a couple of verses that I regularly find myself meditating on when I am spiritually healthy.  “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (N.A.S.B).”  Really this section all the way from verse 5 to verse 10 has brought about a Spiritual Wakefulness and a return of zeal in my faith that I haven’t experienced in over a decade.  Even though I have fallen into sin, I refuse to dwell there! 

            My physical fitness has many contributing factors.  I’m not near as active as I was while in High School where I was involved in many different activities and extra-curricular events.  Even though I don’t burn near as many calories as I once did, I have not cut back on my calories as I should in order to better suit my current physical activity level.  I’m currently working two jobs, although I did have a season of about two months where I was working three, but two of the jobs were desk type jobs.  My other problem is I love to eat, and I won’t tell myself, NO!  This of course plays into the physical and the spiritual aspects of my life at present. 

            I’ve been told that the recommended weight for my stature is 177lbs.  Do I really see myself getting down to this level? No, not really; however, I do believe that I could easily get down and maintain a weight of 200lbs if I were to truly commit and stick to it.  So what is my plan of action to begin working towards this goal? I am going to commit to daily exercise at least 5 days a week at no less than 30 min. a day.  Putting this to pen and paper is not necessarily going to mean it happens, so I’m asking you all to encourage me as I know many of you will.  I am also going to commit to limiting my caloric intake.  I’ve been told 1500 calories would be a sufficient method of encouraging weight loss, so I will try to stick to no more than 1700 calories a day with the goal of only taking in 1500 calories.

            Spiritually speaking there are also some goals I need to set.  I’m hereby committing to partaking in at least 30 minutes to preferably an hour of quiet time on a daily basis.  This commitment is going to be a 365 day commitment, and not one that I should bow out of easily.  I also am going to commit to becoming more involved in a ministry inside of my church as well as a ministry outside as well.  To those of you who are familiar with American Family Radio this is similar to the seven commitments that Matt Friedeman encourages people who want to be members of the “in the fight” club.   

We’ll be posting an update next week as we begin this process.  God bless.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My First Book Review: "If You Take a Mouse to School" by Elizabeth A. Emery

          First thing first is I, Paul, am transcribing this review to be put on the family blog.  Elizabeth asked me the other day if she could write a book review, and so I wanted to encourage her to do so.  She read me this story today, and I did ask a few questions to get her thinking.  Other then the questions, the words that will be in this review is mostly Elizabeth’s and I’m so very proud that she wants to do these kinds of things.

          We’ll start with the questions and her answers.

1)    Who are the main characters? The boy and a mouse.
2)    What did you like the most about the story?  The mouse building furniture for his house out of clay.
3)    Was it easy to read? Not exactly.  There were some easy parts and some hard pats to the words.
4)    What did this book help teach? This book helped teach contractions which are two words put together.

I really liked this book.  I would encourage my friends to read it.  This book was a lot of fun to read.  “If You Take a Mouse to School” by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond is a part of a series of books.  We received this series from our Moppie two Christmas’ ago.  I read this book to my daddy on January 01, 2012.  I’m going to tell my pastor, Scot Wall of Magnolia Bible Church, about this book.  J