In Memoriam: David Matthew Morlan

I last saw David Morlan in 1989, when we graduated from high school.  And yet, news of his death yesterday has struck me hard.  Even in high school, I can't say that we were particularly close.  He was handsome, popular and the all-around athlete.  I wasn't.  And yet, he was a friend.  To many in the "lower" social strata high school, he was a protector and a friend.  Perhaps it was his humility or his easy going ways.  He cared and wasn't afraid to show it.  I have a son who's in high school.  If there was one person I would want him to emulate, it would be David.

We reconnected on Facebook.  But it wasn't high school that bound us together; it was our common faith.  We sent private messages encouraging each other in our faith journey.   I prayed for his wife and daughters, whom I've never met.  I prayed for the youth he pastored.  We lamented that we weren't better friends in high school.  For both of us, that was a lifetime ago, literally and figuratively.

I had hoped that I would be able to introduce David to my wife and kids the next time he was in S. CA.  Our reunion will have to wait.  Though he has passed and is experiencing the eternal glory of God, he leaves behind a legacy of compassion, selflessness and love.  

Though many of our hearts ache, I find comfort in the assurance that David has run his race well and has been welcomed with the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."



If anyone's interested in supporting his family, please donate through this GFM link set up by David's brother. https://gf.me/u/y8ssrm

Where I Stand

  1. Pro-Life: I believe in the sanctity of life, from conception through death.
  2. Pro-Choice: I believe in a woman's choice on what she can do with her body.
  3. Pro-Child: I want to give all children the opportunity to live and not just be born.
  4. A black child born in U.S. today will likely face greater obstacles throughout life than a white child born today.  That's a tragedy that should affect us all.
  5. The disparity between the richest and the poorest should not be as great as it is.
  6. The U.S. is the land of opportunity.  Those who have benefitted from that opportunity should desire the same for others.
  7. Love does not stop at our borders.
  8. First responders and soldiers put their lives on the line for our safety.  They've earned the benefit of my doubt.
  9. Morality starts in the home.  Teaching children right and wrong choices is the primary duty of parents.
  10. I follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  All have the choice to believe or not believe the same.

Whether you agree with any or all of this, know that I love you.  I welcome discussion and even disagreement.  Peace to you all.

CSB Worldview Study Bible


Introduction:
For Christmas, my wife, Peggy, gave me the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) for my daily study.  The CSB is a new translation by Holman Publishing, who also provided the HCSB.  (More information on the CSB can be found here: https://csbible.com/about-the-csb.) I’ve enjoyed the CSB’s careful balance of faithfulness to the original language with readability.  So I was thrilled with the opportunity to review the newest edition of the CSB family of Bibles, the Worldview Study Bible.



Look and Feel:
The Bible comes with a navy “leather touch” cover.  The size is like other Study Bibles, measuring 7” x 9.5” x 1.5”, which will fit in standard sized Bible cases.  There’s no noticeable trade-off in content or font size.  In fact, the font is very pleasant and readable.

Articles and Notes:
What makes this Bible unique are the articles and notes.  Edited by David S. Dockery and Trevin K. Wax, dozens of renowned Bible Scholars contributed articles.  The first article, by Trevin Wax, lays out the following reasons for viewing the world through the lens of Christianity:
  1. Because it sets us apart from the world – We need to understand in which ways we disagree with the world so that we may better share the gospel and love the world.
  2. Because it aids our spiritual transformation – Thinking is very much a part of our sanctification.  “The way you diagnose the world’s problem necessarily affects what you believe to be the solution.” (Pg. XXIII)
  3. Because it helps us know how to live … “so that we can determine God’s will in particular situations where explicit instructions are not spelled out in Scripture.”  (Pg. XXIII)
With these three reasons as guiding pillars, the Worldview Study Bible intersperses 130 articles along with abundant footnotes.  For example, within the first five chapters of Genesis, we’re presented with articles on Scripture and Science, Old Earth and New Earth Perspectives, Birth Control, and Gender Choice.  Since the authors are a virtual “Who’s Who” within the circle of Christian Apologetics, you expect well-reasoned articles, which is exactly what we get.  Imagine reading Psalm 146, where God is extolled as, “the Maker of heaven and earth,” and wondering how to reconcile that with what you’ve been taught about the Big Bang Theory.  The next page offers an article by Dr. William Dembski (https://billdembski.com/dembski-on-intelligent-design/) on, “Evolution and Intelligent Design.”  Or maybe you’re reading Romans 8 and come across the particular verse (v14) that speaks of “the Spirit of adoption.”  Dr. Russell Moore expounds on that on the next page with an article on “A Biblical View of Adoption.”











The only small improvement I would request of the publisher is to better distinguish the articles from Scripture.  Though the articles use a different font and have a slightly darkened background, the differentiation is not enough to sufficiently elevate the words the Scripture as compared with the opinions and analysis of man.

Conclusion:
Overall, I heartily recommend both the CSB and this particular edition, the Worldview Study Bible, which will be released later this month, May of 2018.

Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher for my unbiased review.

Whisper by Mark Batterson

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.”  (Jas 1:19, CSB)

Go to a Christian bookstore and you’ll find many books on prayer.  Those books tend to focus what we should say to God and how we should say it.  Few, if any, focus exclusively on the other side of the conversation, which is how we should listen to hear the voice of God in our prayer life.  Mark Batterson has now filled that void with Whisper

Before I share my observations and review of the book, I first need to confess my reservations.  More than once, I’ve heard Christians say, “God told me that….”  I’ve grown skeptical of this phrase as many use it interchangeably with “I feel like….”   So, I went into this book with a fair bit of skepticism.

Pastor Batterson starts the book by illustrating the import of God’s voice, “The Power of a Whisper.”  With four words, God created light.  By His breath, we were given life.  His voice offers power, love, healing, wisdom, and joy.  Why, then, does His voice often come in the form of a whisper?  He wants us to “lean toward a whisper…That’s why He speaks in a whisper.  He wants to be as close to us as is divinely possible!”

With that introductory section, I was hooked.  Part Two delves into God’s “Seven Love Languages,” ways in which the Creator of the universe communicates with us.  I wanted to hear, but my skepticism remained.  My concerns were assuaged when Batterson validated those concerns.  The first love language, Scripture, serves as the underpinning of the others.  As Batterson notes, “Scripture gives us guidelines” -- it’s the basis by which we “cross-check [our] interpretation.”  The other methods God uses to speak to us are: Desires, Doors, Dreams, People, Promptings, and Pain.  Each is girded with Scripture and expounded with personal examples.


I would highly recommend this book to anyone who honestly seeks God and that closeness He desires.  It’s the type of book I’ll read more than once so that I’ll be drawn back to my Father’s voice.

Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher for my unbiased review.

Prompted to Serve

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday, August 25th, and has been one of the most devastating storms in U.S. history.

On the 28th, Samaritan's Purse sent out an email requesting volunteers.  I forwarded that email to Peggy with two words, "Let's pray."

The next day, I submitted an application with Samaritan's Purse and asked Pastor Mike to pray with us.

My prayer during the week had been for God to confirm that this prompting was from Him.  I'd assumed that the prayer would be answered when I received confirmation from Samaritan's Purse.  I checked my email and my phone more often than usual.  Nothing.

On Saturday morning, while reading the Bible, I learned that "Everything is to be done for building up." (1Co 14:26)  I've been reading from a new translation so this term, "building up," caught my eye and caused me to dig deeper.  The Greek word is oikodomÄ“ (oikos = home + domÄ“ = roof).  The command for Christians to "build one another up" is to literally put roofs over their homes.

"Ok God, confirmation received."

Later on Saturday, I received a follow-up email from Samaritan's Purse.  Due to the overwhelming response, it could be up to two weeks before they respond to my application.  I thought, "No hurry, I already have my response."