A Year of Change and Thankfulness

The McKnights

This has been a year of huge changes. In every instance, I’ve only gained more reasons to be thankful to God. I’d just like to take a moment to publicly praise him for a few of the things he has done for me.

My wife

The New Year will mark the first full calendar year that I’ve been married to my wife, Tessa. My gratitude for her could not possibly find full expression in words. In the midst of our many, sometimes-challenging events of 2013, she has stood by me with unwavering support. I am truly a blessed man.

Thoughts on John Piper’s “The Calvinist” Poem

The Calvinist

The Calvinist” is a poem turned video project by John Piper. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should.

The poem itself is brilliant. The cinematography is beautiful. The reading is excellent. The soundtrack fits perfectly.

There is only one major problem—the title. Piper should have named his poem “The Christian.”

Apart from a few lines that reveal Piper’s theology, the majority of the poem could describe the life of any man of God (assuming that man has a wife and children).

Responding to AiG’s Latest Billboard

A while ago, I wrote about why I didn’t like the billboard put up by Answers in Genesis in Times Square. Well, they put up a new one.

My thoughts? Actually, I like it! Well done, AiG.

What do you think? Does this represent the love of Jesus a bit better than the previous effort?

Why the Air Force Academy Should Drop “So Help Me God”

Air Force Academy

The Air Force academy is considering the removal of the phrase “so help me God” from their honor oath after a complaint was filed against them. The oath currently reads as follows:

We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God.

While I disagree with the reason for the complaint, I agree that this phrase should be removed.

Responding to Things like AiG’s Billboard

Billboard

I wish I didn’t feel like I have to respond to this. I wish it didn’t happen in the first place. But it did. And I do. Answers in Genesis is a ministry I happen to care a lot about. They are like my family, and I love them. But like family, they sometimes do things that astound me.

First, to those atheists I count as friends, as well as those I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, I unreservedly apologize for the existence of that sign. It does not reflect well on my Savior, on my friends at AiG, or on Christianity as a whole.

Jesus, In His Own Words (Book Review)

Jesus, In His Own Words

A number of books have been produced recently which seek to harmonize the four Gospels. These efforts have gone beyond sequencing the accounts in parallel columns. They have instead combined the accounts into a single flowing narrative. John MacArthur’s One Perfect Life and Johnston Cheney’s The Greatest Life are two excellent examples. Such books do not replace the four Gospels, but they serve as a great tool to complement and shed greater light on the originals.

B&H Publishing Group sent me a copy of a new similar effort, but this one has a twist. Like the others, the four Gospels have been combined into a single narrative, but unlike the others, this one has been adapted so that everything is spoken from Jesus’ perspective. Thus the book starts out with the following adaptation from John 1:1–5:

Meet Andre

Cincinnati

“Excuse me, sir. Buy the newspaper that creates jobs for people.”

He held in his hands a copy of the local Article 25 newspaper. Between his sandaled feet was a duffel bag containing more copies of the paper. To the other side of his right foot was a puddle of something I can only hope was a spilled drink.

He was a large, dark-skinned man sitting on a bench under a small tree. His scruffy, gray-haired face was adorned with red-tinted sunglasses and a matching baseball cap. I could discern only two teeth on his upper gum, but through that mouth came one of the fullest and most sincere smiles I have ever witnessed.

We’re Moving to Washington!

Washington State

For those who may not have heard yet, I had to resign from my job at Answers in Genesis several months ago. To make a long story short, I’ve come to believe that conditional immortality is the most biblical position regarding the eternal fate of unbelievers. Unfortunately, this position goes against one phrase in AiG’s statement of faith, so I was not allowed to continue there.

To hear the longer version of my story, listen to the interview Chris Date did with me on the Rethinking Hell podcast.

Since leaving my job, it has been an interesting experience in unemployment. I worked several small contract jobs to keep my family fed, but it was ultimately all up to God’s provision. And our God is faithful, is he not?

Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence (Book Review)

Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence

Like many American Evangelicals, I grew up seeing no contradiction between following Christ and using violence. I’ve always thought that the 1611 and a 1911 go together better than peanut butter and jelly. And until recently, I owned both. (I still have the Bible.)

But my long-held thoughts on such things have been challenged by what I see in the Bible—particularly the teachings of Jesus.

Here’s the problem I’ve come against. Jesus commanded his followers to love everyone, including our enemies. Love is not just a side-issue for Christians; it forms the very core of what it means to follow Jesus. And love is an action, not a sentiment. So how could it be possible to love our enemies while deliberately inflicting harm on them?

A Year of Blogging

Can you believe that Being Filled has been around for over a year now? I’ve had a blast writing and interacting with everyone here, and I hope to continue doing so for as long as I can.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights from the past year.

First Post

  • What’s Filling You?
    My first post captured the main theme of this blog then, and I hope to keep that as the primary focus. We allow far too many things in this world to fill us, but what we really need is to continually be being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Most Viewed Posts

How I Interpret the Bible

Reading the Bible

I’m explaining why I believe what I believe. Please read my introductory post if you have not done so already.

I previously explained why I believe in the Bible. Yet those who believe in the Bible have very different beliefs about what the Bible teaches. So I’m going to try to briefly explain how I interpret the Bible.

I believe, in accordance with 2 Timothy 3:16–17, that the Bible is “inspired” or breathed out by God. And according to 2 Peter 1:20–21, the Bible consists of written prophecies that came from God. (A prophecy simply means a word from God; it does not necessarily predict the future.)

Why I Believe in the Bible

Bible

I’m explaining why I believe what I believe. Please read my introductory post if you have not done so already.

I previously explained why I believe in Jesus Christ and why his resurrection forms the very core of my belief system. The rest of my specific beliefs are based on the fact that I believe in the Bible.

My belief in the Bible stems from my belief in Jesus Christ, because it is the Bible that bears witness to Jesus Christ. The Old Testament sets the stage, providing the background to Jesus Christ and pointing toward his coming. The gospels recount his ministry on earth, his teachings on the kingdom, his death and resurrection, and our call to follow him. Then the epistles continue to flesh out the theology of the Christ and how he calls us to live.

Why I Believe in the Resurrection

Empty Tomb

I’m explaining why I believe what I believe. Please read my introductory post if you have not done so already.

In my previous post, I began to explain why I believe in Jesus Christ, but I kept the strongest proof for this post. I believe in the resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate reason to believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be. It’s the one sign that Jesus himself offered as proof for his authority.

Why I Believe in Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

I’m explaining why I believe what I believe. Please read my introductory post if you have not done so already.

I previously explained why I believe in a personal God, but that still allows for multiple conflicting religions. So I’m going to be a bit more specific in this post. I believe in Jesus Christ.

Few people doubt the existence of the historical person named Jesus. So I’m not going to spend any time defending that belief. When I say that I believe in Jesus Christ, I mean that I believe in all the things he taught and all the things he claimed about himself.

Why I Believe in a Personal God

Sun Rays

I’m explaining why I believe what I believe. Please read my introductory post if you have not done so already.

I previously explained why I believe in the supernatural, but that’s not very specific, is it? In this post, I’m going to explain why I believe in something more than a cosmic force. I believe in a personal God.

I believe this personal God created the world and continues to uphold it and interact with it.

Why I Believe in the Supernatural

Earth

I’m explaining why I believe what I believe. Please read my introductory post if you have not done so already.

I previously explained why I believe in absolute truth. That serves as a foundation for this next tier. I believe in the supernatural.

The entire spectrum of beliefs can be divided into two basic categories. The first category insists that the natural world is all there is. The second category allows for that which is outside of nature and thus not bound by natural laws—the supernatural.

(Technically, there is a third category. Agnosticism is the belief that it isn’t possible to know if the supernatural exists.)

Why I Believe in Absolute Truth

Hand on Bible

I’m explaining why I believe what I believe. Please read my introductory post if you have not done so already.

My most foundational belief has to do with the nature of reality itself. I believe in absolute truth.

In other words, I believe that truth is not relative. That which is true, really is true, and that which is false, really is false. Therefore, competing claims to truth cannot all be true.

To me, such a belief is self-evident, yet there are many who deny it. It is very popular in today’s pluralistic culture to say that something may be true for you but not for me. But such thinking falls apart under logical scrutiny.

Why I Believe What I Believe

Cross

I recently wrote about the distinction between what I call “pure apologetics” and “expanded apologetics.”

In this series of articles, I am going to engage in my own pure apologetics. That is, I am going to provide a basic explanation for why I believe what I believe. I will start with my foundational understanding of reality and move step by step up to the specifics of my faith.

The answers I give will not be intended to cover every detail or to furnish a final conclusive proof of Christianity. Some of my answers will include elements of expanded apologetics, while others will be based on my own experience.

Pure Apologetics

Bible

We get our English word apologetics from transliterating the Greek word apologeia, which means to provide an explanation or give an answer. The Christian concept of apologetics comes from the instruction found in 1 Peter 3:15–16.

I would like to draw a distinction between what I am going to call “pure apologetics” and “expanded apologetics.” I’m not sure if this distinction has been drawn before or if the terms I chose have previously been used for something else. Nevertheless, I feel that it is an important distinction to make.

It seems to me that the majority of what we typically call “apologetics” would in reality be better described as “expanded apologetics”—it goes beyond the “pure apologetics” instructed by Peter. Let’s take a look at the verses in question.

Reminder: The Government Does Not Own Marriage

Marriage

Recently, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was ruled to be unconstitutional. This basically means that states have the ability to allow same-sex marriages.

For some reason, a lot of Christians are upset by this. Honestly, that’s perplexing to me.

Do we really believe that the government has the right to define marriage? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that marriage is actually a covenant before God, not the government.

Sure, the government tries to recognize marriages for tax purposes and all that. But the government is unable to decide whether two people are truly married or not.

Only God can do that.

An Essential Resource

Bookshelves

I’ve noticed a trend in “Christian” marketing. If you want to be sure people buy a product, just label it as an “essential resource.”

I did a quick search for Christian books that include the phrase “essential resource” in their descriptions, and I came up with almost 1,000 results. That’s about four large bookshelves packed full with resources that are all “essential” if you’re a Christian.

Better get reading!

Seriously though, I wonder if these marketers actually understand the word essential? According to Dictionary.com, it means “absolutely necessary; indispensable.”

Francis Chan Asks, “Is This Really Church?”

Francis Chan

It’s no secret that I greatly appreciate the ministry of Francis Chan. While I don’t like putting people up on pedestals, there are few biblical teachers today who have had as much impact on my life as he has.

When I recently reviewed Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, I mentioned that the updated edition included a section talking about some changes that occurred in his ministry since writing the book. With that as a preface, I’d like to share a video with you.

If I’ve pieced together the history correctly, I believe this sermon coincides with that shift in his ministry. I watched this video around the same time I first read Crazy Love, and it had just about as great an impact on me.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan (Book Review)

Crazy Love

Outside of the Bible, there are very few books that I can say have truly changed the course of my life. Crazy Love by Francis Chan is one of them. So when I found out that a newly revised and updated edition was being published, I knew I had to review it. Thank you, David C Cook, for sending me a copy.

The premise of this book is simple. God’s love for us is crazy; we should therefore live a life of crazy love for him.

In the first chapter, Francis paints a picture of God—an awesome, beautiful, terrifying picture. From the start, we see just who this God we serve really is. Next, Francis describes who we are. When it comes down to it, we’re pretty insignificant. He compares us to a movie extra hidden away in the background of some scene, but we act as though we’re the star. Make no doubt about it, the “movie” of life is all about God, from start to finish.

But that’s not where it ends. After comparing our squalor to God’s splendor, we are shown that God loves us. For some utterly incomprehensible reason, the God of the universe loves us. He loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us, to redeem us, to adopt us as his children.

Who Is Qoheleth?

Qoheleth Andrew McKnight

At 4:15 on the morning of May 12, 2013, Tessa gave birth to our first son, Qoheleth Andrew McKnight. We are so blessed! Tessa has written more about our home birth, which you may read on her blog.

The name Qoheleth is pretty unusual, and we’ve been getting plenty of questions about it, so I figured it’s about time to explain the name and why we chose it.

Qoheleth comes from the book of Ecclesiastes. However, you won’t see it in most English translations. That’s because it has been traditionally rendered as either “the Preacher” or “the Teacher.”

A more literal translation would be “the assembler” or “the gatherer.” This could mean that he assembled the people in order to teach them (thus the traditional translation). It could also mean that he was a member of the assembly. Or it could refer to the many experiences he gathered. I tend to favor the latter, given the content of the book of Ecclesiastes.

Trinitarian Letters by Paul Kurts (Book Review)

Trinitarian Letters

I actually feel bad about publishing this review. I know that what I have to say will come across as very harsh. Should the author read this review, I apologize. I mean no personal disrespect. However, I promised to provide an honest review upon receiving a free copy of Trinitarian Letters. What follows is my honest opinion.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the formatting. I don’t usually comment on such things, preferring to focus on the content of books. However, this book was nearly impossible to read past the ALL CAPS SHOUTING. I don’t think there is a page in the book without shouting. In some places, the author even applied bold formatting to his all caps text. I also found an instance of no fewer than 35 exclamation points in a row.

Trinitarian Letters was published by West Bow Press, which is the self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson. The fact that it is self-published is quite evident. In addition to the problem with shouting, there are hardly any pages that do not suffer from atrocious spelling and grammar mistakes.

The Name of Jesus or Yeshua?

Jesus

I had a great conversation on Facebook the other day, regarding the name of Jesus. Amado and I were talking about Messianic Judaism and specifically how many refer to Jesus as Yeshua.

They do have a point. Jesus isn’t really his name (and Christ certainly isn’t his last name, but that’s perhaps another post).

Jesus is actually an Anglicization (English version) of the Greek name Iesous. And Iesous is a Hellenization (Greek version) of the Hebrew name Yeshua.

Quick Reminder to Love Kermit Gosnell

Kermit Gosnell

As I write this, my Facebook feed is filled with links to and comments on the conviction of Kermit Gosnell. There is much rejoicing among fellow believers.

I too rejoice at seeing justice prevail. I rejoice at the fact that this man will no longer have the ability to murder children. And I rejoice at the precedents this conviction will set.

At the same time, I am saddened—not by the conviction, but by some of the reactions I’m seeing. Many of the comments in my feed (though certainly not all of them) reveal a hatred for Dr. Gosnell.

Brothers, he is not the real enemy. And besides, we are commanded to love even our enemies.

God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola (Book Review)

God’s Favorite Place on Earth

God’s Favorite Place on Earth—the title is quite a bold claim. How could Frank Viola know where God’s favorite place is found?

Well, if you’re expecting a theological treatise on the question, look elsewhere. That’s not really the point of the book. “God’s favorite place” simply refers to Bethany, the town where Jesus always received his warmest welcomes during his earthly ministry.

The book focuses on the events recorded in the four Gospels that took place in this town.

Bethany is where Jesus’ friends Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Simon lived. Bethany is where Jesus healed Simon of his leprosy and where Jesus raised Lazarus back to life. Bethany is where Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and where Mary later anointed Jesus with her costly oil. Bethany is where Martha professed to Jesus, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:27, CJB).

Living in the Kingdom of God

Light Castle

For the past two days, we’ve been examining the kingdom. If you haven’t read the previous posts yet, please see “Demystifying the Kingdom of God” and “Two Kingdoms” before proceeding.

With our understanding of the kingdom of God now in place, I would like to talk about kingdom living.

Christians have far too often presented the gospel as nothing more than salvation from sin and death (or worse yet, as a get-out-of-hell ticket). These things are included, but salvation is only one part of the whole gospel, which Jesus calls the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14).

Two Kingdoms

Dark Castle

Yesterday, I attempted to demystify the kingdom of God. If you haven’t read my previous post, please do so now, as this picks up right where that left off.

Doesn’t God have dominion over everything, and does that mean that the whole world is the kingdom of God?

No, not quite.

In the grand scheme of things, yes, God is sovereign over everything. He created the world. He owns it. And he has the absolute power to step in and act whenever he chooses.

But God allows us to exercise our free will and choose whether we will serve Yahweh or serve the god of this world.

Demystifying the Kingdom of God

Castle

Jesus taught more about the kingdom of God than any other topic.

Actually, that’s not the best way to put it. It would be better to say that the kingdom of God was the subject of everything Jesus taught, whether he used the word kingdom or not.

The very gospel Jesus preached was the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14). He spent the majority of his earthly ministry proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that relatively few Christians really understand the kingdom of God.

Free Combined Account of the Gospels

All About Jesus

I recently reviewed John MacArthur’s excellent resource, One Perfect Life, in which he combines the four Gospel accounts together into a single flowing narrative. I also mentioned Johnston Cheney’s similar work, Jesus Christ: The Greatest Life Ever Lived, which has tremendously helped my studies on the life of Christ. I even tried my hand and doing a similar combined account myself for the six denials of Peter.

Well, I just discovered another similar effort. All About Jesus, compiled by Roger Quy, is intended to make an easy reading experience through the Gospels. With that in mind, it uses the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) as the base text, and leaves out the references to book, chapter, and verse (however, a chart at the end shows where all the references fit). There are also explanatory footnotes at the end of the book.

How Many Times Did Peter Deny Jesus?

Peter

If you’ve ever gone to Sunday school, you’re probably thinking that the answer to this question is obvious. Everyone knows Peter denied Jesus three times. Right? It certainly would seem that way from reading of any one of the Gospels individually.

Let’s try a harder question then. How many times did the rooster have to crow? Ah, now we have a slight dilemma.

In Luke 22:34 and John 13:38, Jesus said that the rooster would not crow at all until Peter had denied him three times. But according to Mark 14:66–72, Peter only denied Jesus once before the rooster crowed. Then the rooster crowed again after Peter made two more denials.

The Six Denials of Peter

Peter

The following is the account of Peter’s six denials. It has been combined together from the four Gospels. Read “How Many Times Did Peter Deny Jesus?” for an explanation.

I used the World English Bible as my starting point for this compilation.

Lk 22:54They seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house. But Jn 18:15Simon Peter followed Jesus Lk 22:54from a distance, Jn 18:15as did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered in with Jesus into the court of the high priest; Jn 18:16but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought in Peter.

One Perfect Life by John MacArthur (Full Book Review)

One Perfect Life

I previously wrote about a book I have been looking forward to receiving. My copy of One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus has now arrived, and it is truly excellent.

John MacArthur has compiled the four Gospel accounts into a single harmonious narrative. While most other Gospel harmonies use parallel columns for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, this one blends them together in one flowing text.

I mentioned earlier that this would probably be similar to Jesus Christ: The Greatest Life, compiled and translated by Johnston M. Cheney and Stanley Ellisen. Indeed, MacArthur’s effort is very much in the same vein, and he even graciously acknowledged Cheney’s work in the introduction. However, I think the differences are enough to merit purchasing both books. Each has something to offer that the other does not.

Consider Others Better Than Yourself

rumor

This post is continuing a chain blog initiated by Alan Knox on the topic of “one another.”

Let’s take a look at a biblical principle that is very simple in concept yet extremely hard to practice.

Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each one of you not looking out for his own interests, but also each of you looking out for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3–4, LEB)

We are to consider others better than ourselves. What does that mean?

Should Christian Mothers Eat Their Placentas?

Pots

This is probably going to be one of the weirdest things I’ll ever have to defend on this blog.

God has blessed my wife and me with the conception of our first child. Tessa is almost seven months pregnant; God-willing she will deliver in mid-May.

We will be saving her placenta, and we plan on eventually eating it.

Perhaps this sounds weird or disgusting to you? If so, that’s fine. You may dispose of yours however you please. But Tessa and I would like to take advantage of the many health benefits the placenta has to offer.

That said, a dear friend and sister in Christ advised us that this may not be a biblical thing to do.

Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) (Book Review)

Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It)

I’ve been doing a lot of study recently in eschatology—specifically, the nature of hell and eternal punishment. Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) intrigued me, because Brian Jones once rejected the belief in hell (while he was a pastor), but now he embraces it. Surely, it would be interesting to see what exegetical evidence brought him around.

The book description led me to believe that it would be an apologetic for hell, perhaps something like Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I don’t know if I can blame the author. This seems more like an instance of misleading marketing. Either way, it was not what I expected.

I’ll get to what the book really was about, but let’s cover some of the good things I did like about it first.

10 Things That Are Awesome (According to the Bible)

Snorting Horse

I have previously written about the myth that “only God is awesome.” Many people believe that we should reserve this word for God alone. However, I would contend that awesome is just a normal word like any other and that it has little meaning if it can only be applied to God.

Certainly, God is more awesome than anyone or anything else, but many other things truly are awesome as well.

Just for fun, I have decided to compile a list of things that the Bible itself labels “awesome.” Many translations will use a different English word in these verses, but the Hebrew contains some of the same words for “awesome” that are applied to God.

I’m excluding the many references to God, his acts, his angel, his day, his deeds, his majesty, his name, his power, his signs, his splendor, his strength, his works, etc.

So without further ado, here are ten things—other than God—that the Bible refers to as “awesome.”

One Perfect Life by John MacArthur (Initial Book Review)

One Perfect Life

[Update: I have now received my copy of the book and written a full review.]

Have you ever used one of those harmonies of the Gospels? You know, where Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all arranged chronologically and placed together in parallel columns? A Gospel harmony is a great resource for studying the life of Christ. But it’s not all that great if you just want to read straight through it.

But what if all four Gospels were actually woven together in a single narrative? What if we could see every detail the Four Evangelists included without all of the duplicated information? What if we could read the complete account of Christ Jesus in one flowing narrative from start to finish?

What Does it Mean to Take God’s Name in Vain?

Yahweh

I received the following question from my cousin Matt:

I’ve got a question for you. I’ve always heard churches and pastors making a big deal about not saying “Oh my God” as it is taking the Lord’s name in vain which is sin. I’m just wondering if that actually is correct as God’s name isn’t God but Yahweh. So it seems to me that what should not be said is “Oh my Yahweh.” Just wondering what you think about the matter.

This is a great question! God’s name is indeed Yahweh. (If you have not seen it yet, please read “The Curious Case of God’s Missing Name” before continuing.) The word god is actually more of a title and description than it is a name.

So what is this command getting at?

Waiting on God

Clockwork

I tend to be a New Testament guy. It’s not that I think the Old Testament is any less inspired or profitable than the New; it’s just that I usually find more application from my own dispensation.

But the lesson God is currently teaching me is one found repeatedly throughout those writings before the incarnation.

Wait for Yahweh.
Be strong and let your heart show strength,
and wait for Yahweh. (Psalm 27:14, LEB)

Get One Book Free from WaveCloud’s Huge Library!

WaveCloud Dog

If you follow Christian Books Free (my sub-blog dedicated to free book deals), then you’ve already heard about WaveCloud. But just in case you missed it, I want to mention it here as well.

WaveCloud is a new online community with plans to revolutionize the reading industry. In addition to selling eBooks for great prices, they want to include a social aspect to discuss the books you’re reading and to bridge the divide between authors and readers.

But the best news right now is that they want to buy your first book for you! Rather than spending their money on marketing campaigns, they have decided to simply purchase a book for each of their customers. But there is a limited amount of money, so be sure to grab your book right away!