Thursday, January 19, 2017

4 Predictions for the Trump Presidency

Not since incumbent President Harry S. Truman upset Thomas Dewey in the 1948 Presidential election has the American people, let alone the American press and pundits, been shocked by an election's results. Donald Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton is nothing short of astounding. From the beginning, the former Secretary of State was expected to waltz into the White House especially after the GOP chose a loose canon for their candidate. Yet it was not to be.

Donald J. Trump is the President-elect.

I have already offered a few initial thoughts on the election (you can read those here). I now want to consider a few predictions regarding the Trump administration. I confess I am not a prophet nor a son of a prophet, but I am confident some of these will come true.

1. The First 100 Days Could Be an Exciting Time for Conservatives Thanks to Obama

I have little confidence in politicians or elected officials - even outsiders like Donald Trump. The reason is rather simple. First, politics is a swamp (to use the term Trump used widely during the campaign). Secondly, the system is built to prevent change. Our founders developed a political system of checks and balances where one branch, theoretically at least, does not have more power than other, as a means to delay the increase of government. The problem with this is that it works against downsizing government. It has taken progressives a century to lead us where we are today, conservatives are foolish to believe Trump can clean out the swamp in 100 days. Thirdly, politicians and those in power are corrupt and there is, frankly, nothing in Trump's character or past that suggests to me he is a man of integrity or humility.

Nevertheless, there is one major advantage Trump has on day 1. Much of Obama's progressive agenda he implemented, especially after 2010 when Republicans won the House of Representatives, via executive order. Obama, one may remember, famously told Congress he didn't need them because he had a pen in one hand and a phone in another. As a result, President Obama achieve very little legislatively. Beyond Obamacare, which will be extremely difficult to dismantle, what really passed? Thus on day 1 Trump can override a number of key Obama agenda items from immigration, to health care, to foreign policy, to national security, etc. This could make the first day exciting for conservatives.

Beyond that Trump may have some leeway during the first 100 days. Some, though not much. It is very likely he will appoint a new Supreme Court justice during that time. It is very possible he can take the first steps in initiating some of his key campaign promises. If he does these things, these first hundred days could be magical for conservatives much in the same way the first one hundred days of the Obama administration where wonderful for progressives eight years ago.

2. Trump Derangement Syndrome Will Be Far Worse Than Bush Derangement Syndrome

The eight years of the Bush administration were frustrating as a conservative American for the simple reason that the left, and their supporters in a liberal press, were on edge constantly. They loathed Bush and blamed him, literally for everything. Furthermore, they demonized Bush in unpatriotic ways. I will never forget how the left praised a movie about the assassination of the sitting president.

If the "fallout" of the 2016 election has shown us everything, from outlandish headlines to riots in the streets from snowflake college students, it is that Trump Derangement Syndrome will be far worse than it was during the Bush administration. The reaction has been so outlandish that many #NeverTrumpers, I are one mind you, are beginning to become more sympathetic to Trump and are more excited about the possibilities in a Trump presidency. Once again the left is overplaying its hand.

The difference between Bush and Trump in this regard should be obvious. Bush refuse to sully the office of the president - a position I continue to respect him for. Even his post-presidency is one that is admirable. Trump, however, is not wired that way. He is combative and values loyalty over everything. He will be constantly waging war against the American press and any detractors including those in his own party. Remember that Trump won, he believes, largely without the support of many in the Republican party. He also knows that the press did all that it could to stop him (after he got the nomination mind you).

I anticipate that the next four years will be an ugly four years on both sides and after a promising first few days and weeks, little will actually get accomplished domestically.

3. The Return of the Body Counts

Daily life during the Bush administration was the press's daily updating of deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not entirely against this though clearly it these reports had an agenda. However, once President Obama was elected, these reports, though still readily available, are not are prominent as they once were. When was the last time the press pressed the President on foreign policy in general and Afghanistan in particular? Iraq is a mess largely due to his decision to pull troops prematurely.

From my research Afghanistan was far bloodier for American troops during the Obama administration than the Bush administration. Between 2001 and 2008, 464 soldiers died with 2008 being the bloodiest with 153 American military lives lost (the least bloodiest was 2001 with 7 and 2007 with 11). During the Obama administration, from 2009-2014, 1,679 American military lives were lost. The bloodiest year was 2010 with 496 which is more than the entire Bush campaign and yet the American people were not inundated with these numbers the way they were during President George W. Bush's administration.

Expect a return to the deluge of body counts the second President Trump decides to mobilize American troops overseas.

4. Trump Will Be Trump and this Will Hurt Republicans in the Midterms

Traditionally the party in power suffers in the midterm elections. Clinton suffered greatly in 2014 and Obama was "shellacked" (his word) in 2010. President Bush faired well in 2002 but was destroyed in 2006 when the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. Expect the same to happen to Republicans in 2018.

Even more than that though, Trump's temperament will likely hurt him. If he spends more time warring against his own citizens and other politicians rather than moving the country forward, he will be decimated in the midterms and Republicans will blame him for it.

While now may be a glorious time to be a Republican, I believe it will quickly fade. That is the way of politics especially when you choose a man like Trump as your party's standard bearer.

For more:
A Few Thoughts on the Election of Donald Trump

Doug Wilson on the Election Aftermath

All Around the Web - January 19, 2017

Russell Moore - Should We Celebrate the Falling Abortion Rate?

NPR - U.S. Abortion Rate Falls To Lowest Level Since Roe v. Wade
John Stonestreet - Prosperity Prayer at the Inauguration

Trevin Wax - Christians Must Be Myth Busters

ERLC - Where do we go from here? Racial reconciliation in 2017

Wardrobe Door - When a Women’s March Doesn’t Want All Women

Chuck Lawless - 16 “Leadership Pauses” that Matter

Erik Raymond - The Kingdom Consoles and Compels Us

Thom Rainer - Should a Staff Person Fill the Pulpit When There Is No Pastor?

New York Times - Chelsea Manning to Be Released Early as Obama Commutes Sentence

Kentucky Today - Lexington abortion clinic – 1 of 2 in Kentucky – is closing

Babylon Bee - Joel Osteen Signs Endorsement Deal With Colgate

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What Expository Preaching is Not

About a year before becoming a student at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I picked up a book edited by John MacArthur entitled Rediscovering Expository Preaching: Balancing the Science and Art of Biblical Exposition. I bought the book because it was a preaching book from John MacArthur - pure and simple. I had no idea what "expository" meant and looking back I realize that this seasoned book was my first exposure to expository preaching.

Today, I am primarily an expository preacher.

In the first chapter, Richard Mayhue defines what expository preaching is and is not.

First, what expository is not:
1. It is not a commentary running from word to word and verse to verse without unity, outline, and pervasive drive.

2. It is not rambling comments and offhand remarks about a passage without a background of thorough exegesis and logical order.

3. It is not a mass of disconnected suggestions and inferences based on the surface meaning of a passage but not sustained by a depth-and-breadth study of the text.

4. It is not pure exegesis, no matter how scholarly, if it lacks a theme, thesis, outline, and development.

5. It is not a mere structural outline of a passage with a few supporting comments but without other rhetorical and sermonic elements.

6. It is not a topical homily using scattered parts of the passage but omitting discussion of other equally important parts.

7. It is not chopped-up collection of grammatical findings and quotations from commentaries without a fusing of these elements into a smooth, flowing, interesting, and compelling message.

8. It is not a Sunday-school-lesson type of discussion that has an outline of the contents, informality, and fervency but lacks sermonic structure and rhetorical ingredients.

9. It is not a Bible reading that links a number of scattered passages treating a common theme but fails to handle any of them in a thorough grammatical, and contextual manner.

10. It is not the ordinary devotional or prayer-meeting talk that combines running commentary, rambling remarks, disconnected suggestions, and personal reactions into a semi-inspiration discussion but lacks the benefit of the basic exegetical-contextual study and persuasive elements. (10)
I will add only slightly to this list.

First, expository preaching is not a sermon on what I think about the text. Expository preaching forces the preacher to take the text seriously. If at any point you contemplate on what the text "might mean to me" then you are doing it wrong. The sermon is not the place for personal preference or opinion.

Secondly, expository preaching is not a lecture on the hermeneutics of a text without a clear application of the text. This is the opposite extreme of the previous point. Many young ministers listen to pastors like John MacArthur and Martin Lloyd-Jones and are under the delusion that great preaching ignores practical application. Every sermon should be about Jesus and therefore it should convict the heart and transform the lives of those humbly listening. Exegesis without application is not proper exposition.

Thirdly, expository preaching is not the only type of preaching one should explore. I consider myself an expositor but that does not mean I bounce from one book to another throughout my ministry or try to spend more time in a given book than all of my expository preaching friends. Just because you spent three weeks more in Colossians than the next guy doesn't mean your a better preacher.

Furthermore, we ought to take advantage of other type of sermons including, but not limited to, doctrinal preaching, social engagement preaching, stand alone sermons, holiday and special occasion sermons, and even the occasional topical sermon.

All Around the Web - January 17, 2017

Evangelical History - Reading King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

Kevin DeYoung - Simplicity in Preaching

Denny Burk - Should we avoid praying for Donald Trump by name in public worship?

LifeWay Pastors - 5 Truths About Great Ministry Leaders

Daniel Darling - Editor Series: How writing changed Marvin Olasky’s life

Cal Thomas - Not so Golden Globes

Chuck Lawless - Why and How My Wife and I Give to the Church

Thom Rainer - Seven Questions to Ask if You Barely Receive a Positive Vote to Go to a Church

The Blaze - Droves of Middle East Muslims are converting to Christianity

Quartz - A lawyer rewrote Instagram’s privacy policy so kids and parents can have a meaningful talk about privacy

Tim Challies - How Well Do You Know Your Hymns? (A Quiz)

Fox News - New evidence suggests D.B. Cooper may have worked for Boeing

Monday, January 16, 2017

"NKJV Word Study Bible": A Review

I have an abundance of Bible's in my library consisting of multiple translations, styles, and types. We truly live in a wonderful age when it comes to access and understanding God's Word. Recently I was given a copy of Thomas Nelson's NKJV Word Study Bible which is unique from the rest of Bible's on my shelves.

The Word Study Bible helps the reader better understand the deeper meaning of important words of the biblical text. It promotes itself as possessing "1,700 easy-to-understand Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek word studies, plus thousands of cross references to word studies." Being that this is the primary feature that sells that Bible, perhaps a few examples be helpful.

In Genesis 1:1, the Word Study Bible highlights "create" which the note tells us:
(Heb. bara) (Gen. 1:27; 6:7; Is. 45:18; 65:17) 1254: God alone has the power to create everything out of nothing, whether it's 'the heavens and the earth' (Gen. 1:1), people (Gen. 1:27), or everything in between. Of course, God also has the power to destroy, as happens during the Flood (Gen. 6:7). The book of Isaiah is filled with references to the creative power of God (Gen. 40:26; 41:20; 42:5; 43:1, 7; 45:8, 12), emphasizing His uniqueness and superiority over all earthly gods. God promises that he will create a 'new heavens and a new earth' for us to dwell in, a promise that is initiated with the birth of Jesus and finds its fulfillment in the prophecy in Revelation. (1)
On "Eden" in Genesis 2:15:
(Heb eden) (Gen. 2:8; Ezek. 36:35; Joel 2:3) H5731: This word is a proper noun designating the place where God planted a garden for Adam and Even (Gen. 2:8). It is probably based on a word indicating luxury, delight, pleasure, and bliss. This base word expresses the feelings of Sarah at the prospect of finally bearing a child (Gen. 18;12), as well other pleasures that come from God (Ps. 36:8). Economically, it denotes luxurious clothing and other delicacies (2 Sam. 1:24). While the expression Garden of Eden is prevalent, Ezekiel speaks of the "trees of Eden" four times (Ezek. 31:9-18). It truly was a "Garden of Bliss." (3-4)
Finally, on "propitiation" in Romans 3:25:
(Gr. hilasterion) (Heb. 9:5) G2435: Used twice in the New Testament, this term is derived from the Greek verb hilaskomai, a word that has three meanings: (1) "to placate" or "to appease"; (2) to be propitious and merciful"; or (3) "to make propitiation for someone." The New Testament never describes people appeasing God. Instead as Luke 18;13 and 1 John 2:2 make clear, the New Testament describes God as being merciful to, or making propitiation, for us. God provides a merciful expiation, or atonement, of the sins of believers through the death of Christ. But since Paul also speaks of God's wrath, it must also speak of the conciliation of God's anger by means of a sacrifice - namely, the sacrifice of His Son. John states that God demonstrated His love to us by sending His son to become "the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Just as the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled on the altar, so Christ's death brings us into fellowship with God. (1296)
This entry is important because of the theological implications. I believe the editors got this one right.

Overall, this is a helpful resource to have on your shelf especially if you are interesting in a deeper study of God's Word. Though word studies can be abused, they are crucial to "rightly dividing the" Word of God. Resources like this go a long way to help us do just that.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers 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.”