Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Arthur L. Neisler, 1918-2007

Arthur Lee “Shorty” Neisler, 88, of 652 N. Sandusky St., Apt. 301, Tiffin, died at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, 2007, at Blanchard Valley Medical Center in Findlay.

He was born Nov. 23, 1918, in Winston-Salem, N.C., to Arthur Lee Sr. and Lelia Frances (Coppedge) Neisler. He married Mary H. Cook in Tiffin, and she preceded him in death Jan. 21, 2006.
Thanks to everyone who prayed for my grandfather. He endured two heart attacks and multiple surgeries before his strong heart finally failed. A very happy memory came to me today. In December I was back in Tiffin and I was able to get together for breakfast with Grandpa and my dad and my brother. A wave of gratitude to God washed over to me today as I realized how special that time was. We couldn't have known it would be the last time together for grandfather, father, and grandsons. At the time it was just an excuse to occupy my dad while mom got ready for the surprise party we were planning for him that day. It's wonderful how the Lord arranges things for us.

It blows my mind to think of Grandpa standing in the very presence of God. But that's what my Bible tells me he is doing now. He is beholding the face of Jesus this very moment. Think of it. To look upon the fair face of the King. It reminds me of a passage from C.S. Lewis' sermon, "The Weight of Glory":
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship....There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat."
If Lewis is right, if you could Arthur Neisler as he is now you wouldn't call him Shorty.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Truth In Balance: A Final Word

"We are given to believe that what we enjoy in this life is so ordered by the will of God, and so much the effect of providence, that there is no ground whatever of boasting in any creature; yet we do not on this account neglect to plough or sow, or pursue the good and avoid the evil.

"A 'fleshly mind' may ask, How can these things be? How can predestination be made to comport with human agency and accountableness? But a truly humble Christian, finding both in the Bible, will believe both, though he may be unable fully to conceive of their consistency; and will find in the one a motive to depend upon God, and in the other a caution against slothfulness and a presumptuous neglect of duty."
- Andrew Fuller, Baptist pastor and theologian, 1812

"The Western mindset is not as conditioned to hold and maintain tension as the Eastern mindset. The Western mind tends to create false 'either-or' categories, rather than thinking in terms of 'both-and.'"
- Professor Kevin Smith, church history lecture, 2/21/07

Wednesday Wake-up Call

(When you think about it, this is actually frighteningly true.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Truth In Balance, part 2

For more on the truth that God is both gloriously sovereign and gloriously separate from sin, read THIS POST from September of last year. The essay I link to there has been very helpful to me. Here's a quote to get you thinking and (hopefully) compel you to check it out:
The betrayal of Jesus by Judas was a morally evil act inspired immediately by Satan (Luke 22:3). Yet in Acts 2:23 Luke says, "This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan (boule) and foreknowledge of God." The betrayal was sin, and it involved the instrumentality of Satan; but it was part of God's ordained plan. That is, there is a sense in which God willed the delivering up of his Son, even though the act was sin.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Cry of Pop Culture

I was browsing through the music at Best Buy the other night, and I came across an album (nearly two years old now) by Oasis, a band I listened to in high school. The album's title caught my eye:

"Don't Believe the Truth"

It struck me that this is the siren call of all of pop culture - TV, movies, music, fashion, the internet, electronics, sports, etc. And while they're begging us not to believe the truth, they're working hard to make sure we don't even see the truth.

Christians should have an implicit distrust of pop culture. Some of its offerings may be good and beneficial to us, but we should assume that Satan is out to get us, and pop culture is one of his tools. He is "the god of this world." Satan himself will probably never visit you to whisper temptations in your ear. He's more efficient than that. He casts a wider and harder-to-discern net: Instead of tempting us to sin overtly, he subtly tries to distract us from Kingdom priorities by delivering a seemingly endless supply of movies, TV shows, DVD's, CD's, websites, video games, sports, jeans, shoes, cell phones, mp3 players, computers, restaurants, stores, cars, get the idea.

Satan wants to lull us to sleep slowly and subtly, thereby rendering us ineffective for the Kingdom. We must each pray for wisdom to discern the line between good/beneficial and distracting/harmful; and we must be willing to take the kind of radical step Jesus commends to us when he says, "If your eyes offends you, pluck it out..." We must be willing to imagine life without _________ .

Truth In Balance

We attended the new members' seminar at Clifton yesterday. As we walked through their statement of faith with Bruce Ware, one of the elders, I was reminded of an important truth: Scripture sometimes affirms facts that seem to be incompatible with one another. It tells us that both are true, but not how. While the Bible is content to leave two truths in tension, we humans tend to want to resolve the tension. This tension can be frustrating, like one of those praise-and-worship choruses that ends on a funny note. The Bible says "both-and" while we want to say "either-or." The doctrine of Divine Providence presents such a tension. Consider Article IV from Clifton's Statement of Faith:
"God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures." (Isa. 46:9-11; Prov. 16:33; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; Jas. 1:13-15) [Italics mine]
Is this what Scripture teaches? Take a look at some of the Scripture passages cited above:
"Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'...I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it." (Isa. 46:9-11)

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." (Prov. 16:33)

"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (James 1:13-15)

The first two passages affirm that God ordains all things that come to pass, yet the last passage tells us we should never say that God is to blame for our temptation and sin. So which one is it? The answer is the first one and the second one. If we choose the first truth at the expense of the second, we rob God of his holy separation from all sin. If we choose the second at the expense of the first, we rob God of his sovereignty. The Bible teaches both. Therefore, we must say that somehow both are true, and resist the desire to resolve the tension. We must hold the truth in balance: God is sovereign over all things and we are responsible for our sin (he is not). Therefore, when we investigate the Scriptures, Clifton's statement on God's providence seems to be accurate.

This principle of "truth in balance" prevents us from taking our reasoning beyond the bounds of Scripture. It keeps us from going too far. I recently heard a guy give an imbalanced presentation of God's providence. (Mom and Dad, you were there.) While affirming that God ordains all things good and bad and uses them for his glory, the teacher should have taken greater care to affirm that God is never "the author or approver of sin." We must believe that although we cannot reconcile these truths in our minds, they exist in perfect harmony in the mind of God. God is gloriously sovereign and gloriously separate from sin.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Please Pray

My grandfather, Arthur Neisler, is in pretty bad shape in a hospital in Findlay, Ohio. He had a heart attack on Monday. He's also experiencing some problems with his stomach. It's urgent that they treat his stomach issue but it's also extremely risky because his heart is weak and damaged because of the heart attack.

Grandpa is a Christian, so the ultimate sting of death has been removed. And yet I believe miracles are for today, and God sometimes chooses to glorify Himself by healing people when it seems most unlikely, so please pray that He will do so in this case.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Great is the heart of my beloved,
Rejoicing and gladness she imparts.
Ever keeping her covenant word,
Truth and love and kindness have been her art.
Christ alone holds greater sway; I would
Have it so. For she loves me best by
Ever loving me less than Him; for
Never yet has a lover saved a soul.

Some Other Valentines

Mom: please send some Ballreich's
Or your snicker-doodles
To me (whichever one you like).
Happy Valentine's Day!
Eating treats helps with Greek-
Really-O please send them, okay?

Abby once was small,
But now she’s grown tall
By eating my pancakes.
Yummy, golden pancakes.

likes to serve,
A helping hand to lend.
’s quick to say,
Can I be your friend?
You’d be glad to meet her.

Every day I miss you,
My dear red monster small.
I confess I wish you
Lived here in Mullins Hall.
Yet I say - go where you are called.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I came across this passage today in A BOOK I'm reading for my church history class. It made me think of you, because I know you have recently had to answer good people who confuse Scripture interpretation with Scripture itself:
"[T]he past still lives in us and influences who we are and how we understand the Christian message. When we read, for instance, that "the just shall live by faith," Martin Luther is whispering at our ear how we are to interpret those words - and this is true even for those of us who have never even heard of Martin Luther. When we hear that "Christ died for our sins," Anselm of Canterbury sits in the pew with us, even though we may not have the slightest idea who Anselm was. When we stand, sit, or kneel in church, when we sing a hymn, recite a creed, or refuse to recite one, when we build a church or preach a sermon, a past of which we may not be aware is one of the factors involved in our actions. The notion that we read the New Testament exactly as the early Christians did, without any weight of tradition coloring our interpretation, is an illusion. It is also a dangerous illusion, for it tends to absolutize our interpretation, confusing it with the Word of God."

Monday Quotes

"Christ is tendered or offered to Sinners as Sinners; not as righteous Persons, but as ungodly ones, without any previous Qualifications required of them to fit themselves to receive Christ; they are all as poor, loft, undone, weary, and heavy laden Sinners required to believe in Christ, or venture their souls upon him, though they have no Money, no Righteousness; if they have they must cast it away, in point of Dependence, Trust, or Justification: These are they, Christ came to call; these are they he invites to come to him; these are they he came to seek and to save, who see nothing of Good in themselves; but contrariwise, are sensible of their filthy Hearts and abominable Lives: And yet though it be thus, if they come to Christ, believe truly in Christ, they shall at that very instant be justified."

"When the Day of Judgment or Death comes, all Hands will be weak, and all Hearts faint: Confidence in our own Uprightness will then fail us, because no Works can then be found to answer the Righteousness of God;"
- Benjamin Keach, The Marrow of True Justification, 1692

Friday, February 02, 2007

Punxsutawney Phil: "No Spring this year - psych!"

Hot off the wire from the Associated Press:

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) - Phil did not see his shadow on Friday, which, according to German folklore, means folks can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.

Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 15 times and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999. MORE...

One reporter on the scene, Carl Snootinsnurfer of the Allegheny, PA, Star-Intelligencer asked Phil if he enjoyed being made a yearly spectacle. "Spectacle? I'm not the spectacle, these guys are," Phil responded, jesturing at a pair of handlebar-mustached men clad in tuxedos and top-hats. "They look like complete idiots."

Phil proved uncooperative for much of the post-ceremony press conference, which broke up after a mere twenty minutes. Phil and his entourage, including three groundhogs whom he referred to as "my boys" (whether Phil meant that these were his friends or his offspring remains unclear), two badgers, a river otter and two chipmunks departed the scene shortly thereafter under tight security to "meet up with the rest of my posse," according to Phil, at a Punxsutawney-area watering hole (whether he meant a tavern or a literal hole of water has not yet been confirmed).

Phil chain-smoked throughout the press conference, raising concerns among some about his health and longevity. Phil has been predicting winter's end since he was 5, in 1886, which means he will turn 126 this year.

In other news, the high in Louisville today was 28 degrees, with highs expected to plunge into the teens over the weekend...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Time Interviews Al Mohler

Southern Seminary president Albert Mohler, Jr. talks with David Van Biema of Time magazine HERE.

Many of you probably harbor some less-than-flattering preconceived notions (not entirely unwarranted) about Southern Baptists. If so, you'll probably be surprised (pleasantly, I hope) by Mohler's answers in this interview. Southern doesn't fit many of the Southern Baptist stereotypes, and in fact shatters many of them - for the better. I hop the theology of this interview will help you understand why I chose Southern. (HT: Paleo)