Friday, October 2, 2015

Was Elvis a Migraine Sufferer?

Though this website is dominated by topics of theology, books, history, and culture/ethics, once in a while we veer off topic. Today is one of those days. I am a pastor that suffers from migraines - sometimes chronic. It is my "thorn in the flesh." As such I frequently study the topic in order to better understand migraines and how to prevent them.

With that said, I am also interested in history. Any serious book on migraines will offer a list of major historic figures who suffered from the disease. One of my favorite historic nuggets regards Robert E. Lee's surrender in 1865. The victorious general, Ulysses S. Grant, was suffering from a migraine on that historic day.

Then there is the following insight from Dr. Teri Robert in the book Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches.
Elvis is a truly sad tale of Migraine disease. In the United States in the 1970s, there were still many people who considered Migraines to be a psychosomatic illness. Thus, "the King" never disclosed that he was a Migraineur. Several years ago, Michael John Coleman, executive director of MAGNUM, the National Migraine Association, was able to locate and interview Dr. George Nichopoulos, Elvis's personal physician. Some of you may remember that Elvis was hospitalized in 1973 for "headache and mild hypertension" and again in 1975 for "extensive eye exam." Dr. Nichopoulos confirmed that both hospitalizations were migraine related and that Elvis suffered from chronic Migraine. Information leaked from his autopsy indicated that Elvis had Demerol, propranolol, LSD, and antiemetics in his bloodstream at the time of his death. Since his Migraine disease had been kept secret, nobody understood that those medications did not indicate drug abuse or addiction.DHE (dihydroergotamine), a Migraine abortive medication, will show up in a blood test as LSD, an ergot alkaloid that is structurally related to LSD. Elvis was taking propranolol as a Migraine preventive. DHE can be used only a certain number of times a month, so Elvis used Demerol for his Migraines when he couldn't take DHE. Antiemetics are very frequently prescribed for Migraineurs. Thus, thanks to the closed minds of society, he was labeled a drug abuser rather than a man with a neurological disease. (63-64)
Though I am anything but an expert on the biography of Elvis, I doubt this explains everything away in the life of Elvis. Nevertheless, it is interesting to say the least.

All Around the Web - October 2, 2015

Albert Mohler - Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?

Justin Taylor - Not All Doctrines Are at the Same Level: How to Make Some Distinctions and Determine a Doctrine’s Importance

Jared Wilson - Why Knowing Your Flock Is Critical to Meaningful Preaching

Reformation21 - James Is, You Know, in the Bible

The Gospel Coalition - On My Shelf: Life and Books with James K. A. Smith

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What I'm Reading - Fall 2015

As a new season begins I am planning out my reading. Fall is a great time for books and below area  few of the volumes I hope to complete in no particular order.

The Quiet Man: The Indispensable Presidency of George H.W. Bush by John Sununu - It is a personal goal of mine to read a serious biography of every President of the United States. So far I have been unsuccessful in one that peaked my interest in regards to Bush, Sr. I believe in this volume I will have found one worth investing in. 

From the publisher:
In this major reassessment of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, his former Chief of Staff offers a long overdue appreciation of the man and his universally underrated and misunderstood presidency.

“I’m a quiet man, but I hear the quiet people others don’t.”—George H. W. Bush
In this unique insider account, John H. Sununu pays tribute to his former boss—an intelligent, thoughtful, modest leader—and his overlooked accomplishments. Though George H. W. Bush is remembered for orchestrating one of the largest and most successful military campaigns in history—the Gulf War—Sununu argues that conventional wisdom misses many of Bush’s other great achievements.
During his presidency, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. Bush’s calm and capable leadership during this dramatic time helped shape a world in which the United States emerged as the lone superpower. Sununu reminds us that President Bush’s domestic achievements were equally impressive, including strengthening civil rights, enacting environmental protections, and securing passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1990 agreement which generated budget surpluses and a decade of economic growth.

Sununu offers unparalleled insight into this statesman who has been his longtime close friend. He worked with Bush when he was vice president under Ronald Reagan, helped him through a contentious GOP primary season and election in 1988, and as his chief of staff, was an active participant and front-row observer to many of the significant events of Bush’s presidency. Reverential yet scrupulously honest, Sununu reveals policy differences and clashes among the diverse personalities in and out of the White House, giving credit—and candid criticism—where it’s due.

The Quiet Man goes behind the scenes of this unsung but highly consequential presidency, and illuminates the man at its center as never before.

God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by John Lennox - This has been on my "to-read" list for some time. By God's grace I will knock it out before winter comes. Lennox came to Southern Seminary a few years ago and I was blown away. Often when he addresses issues of origins, he reminds us of the power of presuppositions. Often we're not debating science, but presuppositions.

From the publisher:
In God's Undertaker, John Lennox evaluates the evidence of modern science in relation to the debate between the atheistic and theistic interpretations of the universe, and provides a fresh basis for discussion.

The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis: An Introduction by Jerry Root and Mark Neal - I love all things CS Lewis and this volume promises to take us into the imagination of the late apologist himself. I very much look forward to exploring this one.

From the publisher:
Narnia, Perelandra—places of wonder and longing. The White Witch, Screwtape—personifications of evil. Aslan—a portrait of the divine. Like Turkish Delight, some of C.S. Lewis’s writing surprises and whets our appetite for more. But some of his works bite and nip at our heels. What enabled C.S. Lewis to create such vivid characters and compelling plots? Perhaps it was simply that C.S. Lewis had an unsurpassed imagination. Or perhaps he had a knack for finding the right metaphor or analogy that awakened readers’ imaginations in new ways. But whatever his gifts, no one can deny that C.S. Lewis had a remarkable career, producing many books in eighteen different literary genres, including: apologetics, autobiography, educational philosophy, fairy stories, science fiction, and literary criticism. And while he had and still has critics, Lewis' works continue to find devoted readers. The purpose of this book is to introduce C.S. Lewis through the prism of imagination. For Lewis, imagination is both a means and an end. And because he used his own imagination well and often, he is a practiced guide for those of us who desire to reach beyond our grasp. Each chapter highlights Lewis’s major works and then shows how Lewis uses imagination to captivate readers. While many have read books by C.S. Lewis, not many readers understand his power to give new slants on the things we think we know. More than a genius, Lewis disciplined his imagination, harnessing its creativity in service of helping others believe more deeply.

A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther - I recently taught on the subject of prayer in our ongoing series on the spiritual disciplines. Afterwards a friend pointed out this short volume from the Reformer. Every biography of Luther will reveal that the man understood prayer. I have no doubt I will learn something here.

From the publisher:
When asked by his barber and good friend, Peter Beskendorf, for some practical guidance on how to prepare oneself for prayer, Martin Luther responded by writing this brief treatise first published in 1535. A Simple Way to Pray is a fresh modern translation bringing us Luther's practical instruction, using Luther's I.T.C.P. method of prayer. This method anchors prayer in the catechism or other biblical texts, but allows the Holy Spirit to prompt thoughts via the Word, which may be chased more freely by the mind at prayer.

 Instruction: Lord Christ, You instruct me here that I am to listen carefully and heed the word of my pastor when he speaks Your Word. The pastoral office is profound; my pastor is not only charged to watch over my soul, but You also call him to account for his service to me. Finally, You tell me in this text that I am to be a joy to my pastor and not a pain, and this for my own spiritual benefit.

Thanksgiving: Jesus, I thank You for my pastor. In fact, I thank You for the pastor who baptized me, and all pastors who have served me in my life as a Christian. Thank You for all the sermons that have clearly shown me my sin and delivered to me the free forgiveness of the Gospel because of Your sacrifice for me on the cross.

Confession: Lord, I confess that so often I fail to pray for my pastor. I fail to be gracious to his family. I do not pay attention to his preaching. I have gossiped and failed to love and defend him and put the best construction on everything. I deserve to have my faithful pastor taken away. Forgive me my many sins, and help me to do better. Help me especially to be a joy to my pastor and to encourage him in his difficult office.

Prayer: Savior, bless my pastor with faithfulness to Your Word. Cause him to grow in knowledge of Your Word. Give him courage and strength for his tasks. I thank You for (name) and for all faithful pastors. Grant success to the work of our seminaries. Bless our professors and students. And give my pastor joy. I ask all this for Your sake alone. Amen.

The Deity of Christ by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson (eds) - I have been blogging through this work for several weeks now and will soon be finishing it. Though it is an academic work, it is a great work on Christ divine nature.

From the publisher:
The biblical teaching about the deity of Christ is a precious truth and foundational to the Christian faith. It has been called “the most distinctively Christian doctrine of all”—one that must be taught and preserved.

With this in mind, Robert Peterson, Christopher Morgan, Andreas K√∂stenberger, Steve Wellum, Gerald Bray, Alan Gomes, Ray Ortlund Jr., Stephen Nichols, and J. Nelson Jennings have collaborated to develop a theology of Christ’s divinity across multiple disciplines. Combining first-rate evangelical scholarship with rich application, their work examines this central doctrine from contemporary, historical, biblical, systematic, apologetic, and missional perspectives.

This accessible volume—the third in the noted Theology in Community series—guides readers to the significance of Christ’s deity across the Old and New Testaments, in Johannine literature, in popular culture and church history, and among cults and world religions. With its keen theological insight and straightforward application, this volume will give pastors, students, and educated readers a clear and useful treatment of the deity of Christ.

Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism David Allen and Steve Lemke (eds) - This will likely be the next book I blog through. The topic of Calvinism is eating the Southern Baptist Convention alive and unnecessarily so. I am genuinely interested in hearing the arguments put forward by the contributors of this volume. I pray that ultimately their tone will be not divisive.

From the publisher:
Arising from the John 3:16 Conference held in late 2008 at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, Whosoever Will presents a biblical-theological assessment of and response to five-point Calvinism. Baptist leaders offering an alternative to the doctrine’s TULIP tenets include Paige Patterson (Total Depravity), Richard Land (Unconditional Election), David Allen (Limited Atonement), Steve Lemke (Irresistible Grace), and Kenneth Keathley (Perseverance of the Saints).

Hero of Heroes: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes by Iain M. Duguid - I am currently preaching through the Beatitudes. So far this volume has been immensely valuable.

From the publisher:
Hero. Someone we admire, someone we want to be like. But does your idea of a hero include someone poor in spirit? Meek? Merciful? In this fresh look at the Beatitudes, Iain M. Duguid shows how Jesus turns our concept of a hero upside-down. The Beatitudes hold out to us a higher form of heroism—the character and attitudes found in the Hero of heroes.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung - I will be reading this one to the kids for sure.

From the publisher:
Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman. They were the happiest people on the planet.
True, they were the only people on the planet, but they were still terrifically happy.

Unfortunately, things didn’t stay happy and wonderful for long . . .

The Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people.

In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.

With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God's promises are even bigger and better than we think.

All Around the Web - October 1, 2015

USA Today - Kim Davis' lawyer says she met with pope

Christianity Today - Russell Wilson, Ciara, and Who Else Is Not Having Sex

Worship Matters - What Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew

Kevin DeYoung - A Search Committee Is Not a Stealth Committee

Eater - Why McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast Was Years in the Making

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

From Spurgeon's Pulpit: Providence Has Eyes

From his sermon Providence (#187):
I hear one say, "Well, sir, you seem to be a fatalist!" No, far from it. There is just this difference between fate and providence. Fate is blind; providence has eyes. Fate is blind, a thing that must be; it is just an arrow shot from a bow, that must fly onward, but hath no target. Not so, providence; providence is full of eyes. There is a design in everything, and an end to be answered; all things are working together, and working together for good. They are not done because they must be done, but they are done because there is some reason for it. It is not only that the thing is, because it must be; but the thing is, because it is right it should be. God hath not arbitrarily marked out the world's history; he had an eye to the great architecture of perfection, when he marked all the aisles of history, and placed all the pillars of events in the building of time.