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How Chess Is Sometimes Like Life!

I am an avid chess player. I did not say a good one. I lose internationally!  I have a number of chess games going on during the day on my computer with people all over the world.  The Brits seem to play a lot of chess.  But I’ve had games with people in Russia, India, Colombia, and . . . America!

What I appreciate about the website I use to play my games is that I can message or text the other player and he me.  I’ve had some amazing conversations about the Lord while playing chess with others.  My “handle” or name I use on the site is “theoprof,” so I get a lot of individuals asking me about . . . THEOLOGY!  I’ve even convinced a few to correspond with me off-site through regular email.

For those of you who play chess, you might be interested in a game I’ve got going right now.  Here the screen shot.  I’m playing black and I’ve just moved my pawn up to E3.  This is a rare move for me.  The pawn puts the king in check but it also opened up my bishop at G5 to threaten his queen at C2.  Unless I’ve missed something, he has lost his queen!

Sometimes I feel that way in life, do you?  My king is under attack and I’m going to lose my queen.  I don’t mean literally.

 

Here’s how I was able to take his queen (picture #2 on the left).  And the last picture is of my taking his queen.

I probably lost that game.  I don’t remember.  But, for me, it’s a fun way to connect with others.

What is one way you connect with others on the internet?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2019 in chess

 

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Some Thoughts on FRIENDSHIP — From an INTROVERT! ENEMIES of God!? (Part 2)

None of us likes to be told that we enter life as ENEMIES of God! But that’s the testimony of Scripture. True, every person is a creation of God and is made in the image of God. But as we saw in our previous post, CREATION does not equal REDEMPTION.

I’ve been studying Ephesians 2 recently and here is what we learn about our B.C. (before Christ) condition:

There are two, and only two, categories of human beings: (1) those who are by nature (and practice) belong to their father, the devil (Jn. 8:41; Acts 13:10), and (2) those who by conversion and redemption are now children of God (Jn. 1:12; I Jn. 3:10).

We dare not waffle on the truth of CONVERSION.  I heard of a very cautious clergyman in Detroit who once challenged his congregation with these words: “Dearly beloved, unless you repent of your sins in a measure, and become converted in a degree, you will, I regret to say, be damned to a more or less extent.” Biblical conversion moves one out of the category of enemy into the category of child, redeemed by the finished work of the Lord Jesus.

Let’s not leave those verses in Ephesians 2 too quickly. Notice some of the awful statements about our pre-conversion condition: “dead in your transgressions and sins”; you “followed the ways of this world”; you were “by nature deserving of wrath”; etc. Those expressions are the death-nail to human pride. When one says, “Yes, Lord, that is indeed my condition,” he or she is on the fast track to forgiveness and fellowship with God. And conversion leads to FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD!

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2019 in enemies

 

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Some Thoughts on FRIENDSHIP — From an INTROVERT! ENEMIES of God!? (Part 1)

What must it mean to be called a “friend of God”? If our view of God is low, then that expression means very little. But if we think of God as the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth, the One who sent His own Son to die for our sins, the One who grants us the very next breath of air in our lungs, then becoming His friend has to be the greatest gift one could ever have!

Atheism, of course, tells us that God isn’t real and any “relationship” with Him is pure self-deception. Militant atheists sometimes express their disapproval with posters like this one:

“But,” some might say, “doesn’t God love everybody? Aren’t all people friends of God? Don’t we come into the world as friends of God?”

Great questions! Here’s what the Bible teaches: Before conversion, we were not friends, but enemies of God! Romans 5:10 says, “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

There is no spiritual neutrality, no religious Switzerland. We come into this world as wrath-deserving sinners who begin to practice our rebellion as soon as possible! Yes, we are children of God in the sense of CREATION. But creation does not equal REDEMPTION! The Apostle Paul calls his listeners on Mars Hill “the offspring of God,” but then calls them to repent and believe in Jesus! (Acts 17).

(to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2019 in enemies

 

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Door-to-Door Evangelism Today?


I’ve done door-to-door evangelism — and it is difficult! I admire the church that goes out into its surrounding neighborhood with a small gift (ours gave away a lightbulb), tells people about their services, and asks something like, “Is there anything we can pray for you about?” But even that is tough.

The better alternative is to get to know our neighbors, become a “friend of tax collectors and sinners” like Jesus was (Mt. 11:19), and begin to strategically pray for their salvation. Your thoughts?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2019 in evangelism

 

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Some Thoughts on FRIENDSHIP — From an INTROVERT! (Part 4) THE OLD TESTAMENT ON FRIENDSHIPS! (Part 1)

We are using these posts to begin our work on two books on friendship.  This is good for me.  I’m a card-carrying introvert (there’s not really a card; it’s more like a name tag). People wear me out. But I need to know others — and I need to work at relationships with both God’s people and those who are not yet in the Family.

Let’s survey the Old Testament a bit on the topic of friendship.  What do we learn? (Our study is quite selective, as you will see).

The Law/The Pentateuch (Torah): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are in this section. Here in Genesis we get the story of creation, including the fascinating section on a lonely Adam (before sin entered God’s world and before the creation of Eve)! We also are told the stories of Abraham the friend of God and of Moses, the one with whom God spoke “face to face as to a friend” (Ex 33:11).

In Exodus we learn a terrible truth about friendship. The context is of the people of Israel worshiping a golden calf even as Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord. The people were “running wild” and becoming “a laughingstock to their enemies” (Ex. 32:25). God acts in judgment and has Moses rally the Levites to whom he says, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” There are limits to human friendship.

Our next reference to friends comes in the book of Deuteronomy and also deals with the issue of idolatry. There we read the words “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known) . . .” The text goes on to say that you must be the first one to execute that person by stoning! Friends that seek to lead you into idolatry, at least in the book of Deuteronomy, should be executed! Friendship is an important value, but not more important than worshiping the true God!

Israel is forbidden to enter into a treaty with the nations that did not help them when they escaped Egypt: “Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them as long as you live.” (Dt. 23:6).

The History Books:  The Historical Books are comprised of 12 books. Joshua, Judges, and Ruth tell the earliest history of the Jews; 1 and 2 Samuel with 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles cover about five hundred years reporting the fall of Judah to Babylon. The next three books, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther are about their life in captivity, release from it, and the restoration of Jerusalem. In I Samuel we have the beautiful story of the friendship of Jonathan and David, a story sadly — and wrongly — sexualized by today’s homosexual agenda. We read in I Samuel 20 – “After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’’ Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.” After the sad death of Jonathan, David says, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Sam. 1:26).

In this of the Old Testament we also learn of the practice of new monarchies. In the ancient world whenever a new king would ascend to the throne, the relatives of the former king would often be in grave danger. This practice was followed by some of Israel’s kings. For example, Zimri began his reign by killing off Baasha’s whole family. We read that “He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend.” (I Ki. 16:11). The same is said of Jehu who “killed everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab, as well as all his chief men, his close friends and his priests, leaving him no survivor.” (2 Ki. 10:11).

We also get the amazing statement about Abraham in 2 Chronicles 20:7 – “Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?”

In our next post, we will look at the Wisdom (or Poetry) literature and learn several principles about godly friendships.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2019 in friendship

 

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Some Thoughts on FRIENDSHIP — From an INTROVERT! (Part 3) A LONELY ADAM!

ADAM WAS AN EXTROVERT! The Bible doesn’t say that specifically, but, as an INTROVERT, I think he was.

Let me back up a bit.  This year it looks like I’ll be writing two books on friendship.  One will be on being a friend of sinners like Jesus was (Mt. 11:19); the other on friendship in general. But what do I care about friendships?  I’m an introvert.  I’m perfectly happy by myself and my laptop and my dog and occasional visits by my wife.

And that’s what’s funny.  God calling me to study and write about relationships. But I need to.  And I’ll do my best.

In these posts we’ve noticed that the human being is not the creator of relationships, but our Trinitarian God who has always been in a love relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And the Christian gospel is that because of Christ we can enter into that connection, that friendship, with God Himself!

Why did God create Adam?  Not for any lack in God, but for His glory. God creates Adam, sees that His creation is “good” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25), and then declares that what He had made was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). After His rest on the seventh day, the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and placed him in the Garden to take care of it. God gave Adam work to do in the Garden and a simple command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:15ff).

God assigns Adam the work of naming all the animals after declaring, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:17). Don’t skip over those words too quickly. “It is not good . . .” Something in God’s good creation was not good. And it was that Adam had no human counterpart.

One of my seminary colleagues laughs at me when I suggest that Adam’s naming of the animals was the means by which God convinced Adam that he needed a human counterpart. “Let’s see,” Adam might have said. “Let’s name you Mr. and Mrs. Giraffe. And you two we’ll name Mr. and Mrs. Hippopotamus . . .” It is as if Adam needed to see that for him “no suitable helper [was] found” (Gen. 2:20). So God creates Eve from one of Adam’s ribs.

But Adam had been in perfect fellowship with God! Just Adam and his Creator. However, God saw that Adam was lonely. He needed a human counterpart. We need other human beings in our lives.

Sin, of course, marred everything. After Adam and Eve’s rebellion is confronted by the Lord, Adam actually blames God for bringing Eve into existence (and leading him into sin)!

But let’s not miss the critical point that Adam, in the perfect environment of the Garden, before sin, is lonely.  He needs a human counterpart. And God provides Eve. I sometimes catch myself humming the words to the old praise chorus “Just Jesus and Me” (obviously written by an introvert).  We were made for relationships — and not just with our Creator!

May I ask you a favor? Would you pray for me and these two writing projects at least once a week over the next few months? If you agree to do this, you may let me know privately through my email (theoprof@bellsouth.net) or publicly in the comment section below. THANKS!

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in friendship

 

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Some Thoughts on FRIENDSHIP — From an INTROVERT! (Part 2) THE TRINITY!

I’m an introvert. Technically I’m what they call an “expressive” introvert. But an introvert nonetheless. I’ve taken the Myers/Briggs, the Briggs and Stratton, and the Disc Personality tests. And I come out as an introvert.

The Lord has a great sense of humor — and this year it seems He’s going to have me write TWO books on FRIENDSHIPS.  That’s funny.

The God of the Bible is relational.  How do I know that?  First of all, the Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of the TRINITY.  God is three persons but one God.  Christians are not polytheists (we don’t believe in three gods), nor are they modalists (sometimes God is Father, sometimes Son, sometimes the Holy Spirit).  He is both three and one.  I know this doctrine drives our rationalist Jehovah Witnesses friends nuts, but that’s the testimony of Scripture.

There have always been relationships between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Forever.  There was never a time when they did not relate to one another in perfect love and fellowship.  But . . . here’s a wild question . . . what if this Triune God wishes to invite US into that circle of relationship?  This is not to imply that we somehow become deified.  No. But this thrice-relational God calls us into a relationship with Himself (“Himself” being an awkward way to refer to each member of the Godhead).

Why would God do such a thing?  Why would He provide His Son as the substitute for us, dying on the cross to redeem us from our sins, so that we could have fellowship with Him?  Why would He do that?  Let’s be perfectly clear — it was not from any lack in God that He was lonely or He somehow needed us to complete Himself.  It was out of sheer mercy and love.

He invites us into relationship with Himself. Into that Trinitarian circle, not as equals by any stretch of the imagination, but as sons and daughters and brothers of the Lord Jesus! He creates, not because He had to create to be love, for there was always love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He creates to share His glory with His creation, to express His qualities through people made in His image, and to have an eternal relationship with each of us!  “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him!”, as Pastor John Piper puts it.

Biblical Christianity is primarily relational.  When it degenerates into empty ritual, meaningless religious motions, or trite traditions, the heart of God must break.

Forgive me, dear reader, but I’m going to ask you for something very specific. Would you pray for me and these two writing projects at least once a week over the next few months? If you agree to do this, you may let me know privately through my email (theoprof@bellsouth.net) or publicly in the comment section below. THANKS!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2019 in relationships

 

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