Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
And Verily the Blog Slowed...
05/31/2005 - James WhiteAs much as I enjoy keeping the blog hopping, two things will slow things down this week: 1) I head back out on the road Friday (see the calendar page), and 2) the weakness of the flesh has struck again and once more I fight the battle of the sinus/upper respiratory infection. I need to get this licked before getting on that plane Friday morning, so, that requires something they call rest. As disagreeable as I find that concept, I must be wise. So, my apologies if I slow down a bit. Lord willing, we'll be back. :-)
Another Note from Italy
05/18/2005 - James WhiteThis is honestly the first time I have had an opportunity to sit down and record some thoughts regarding my current time in Italy. My wife Kelli was with me till yesterday morning, and now I am back in Mantova, having taken the EuroStar train from Rome to Modena yesterday afternoon. Here's proof I really survived Rome. We visited the ruins of the Coliseum. First, some cultural comments.
What on earth is wrong with protein? :-)
Italians think our bread lacks substance. I.e., warm, soft, buttery bread is bad, hard, crusty, butterless bread is good. OK, tell that to the folks at Olive Garden. I vote for the warm buttery kind.
Driving is driving anywhere in the world; we Americans just have much bigger cars. Most folks I know would not do well here at first, but, over time, you get the idea. Manhattan, London, Rome---all the same, to be honest, except I must admit round-abouts work a lot better than traffic lights, so give the Brits and the Europeans the point on that one (notice I differentiated between them: they do themselves, believe me). Also, the last thing I would ever want to be in Europe is a side-view mirror. If you've been here, you know what I mean.
I am now the Marlboro Man. I have smoked two packs since I got here, and I don't smoke. I have breathed in more cigarette smoke since arriving in Italy than I did in the preceding twenty years in the US. I am not exaggerating there, either. While waiting in the main train terminal in Rome for a few hours yesterday it was so bad, so utterly ubiquitous, that I could feel my lungs burning, just like (I am told) the first time you smoke. I am sure I will smell of it when I get home. You just can't escape it in public places. And at each stop on the train yesterday, at least half the people in the car got out to smoke. Pure addiction.
Now, I will post some pictures in the next installment, but let me note now the fact that when we all heard about the "1.1 billion Roman Catholics" in the world during the recent explosion of news regarding the Papacy, the number is pure bunk IF you count those who actually follow the religion with sufficient fervor for it to impact their daily life in even the most minimum fashion. This is a secular nation. Prostitution is open (first thing I saw upon entering Rome). If Romanism is the one true religion, well then, the one true religion can have zero impact upon the culture in which it is allegedly predominant. As much as my Roman Catholic friends will dislike this, Rome is a dead religion in this nation. When I visited the Vatican, I was visiting a very ornate, vastly expensive tomb. Little more. It did not speak of life. It spoke of death, and the vanity of those buried in its marble crypts. But more on that later.
It has been a privilege to seek to encourage the small, but dedicated Reformed evangelical community in Italy. I will invest some time in discussing them on the DL when I get home, Lord willing. But for now, I must run, as it is lunch time and time for...pizza! How rare! Oh for an Arby's....
Greetings from Rome
05/16/2005 - James WhiteDo not panic! I am really in Rome, Italy. In fact, today I "crossed the Tiber." That is, I and my wife walked across the Milvian Bridge. The Tiber is...green. Then we visited the Vatican, took the obligatory pictures of the obligatory objects, and then went to visit the Coliseum. Last week we visited Venice as well (the world's largest outdoor mall, if you have ever been there). Spoke this past weekend in the Rimini area on election and evangelism, and will do so again this weekend in Asti. So far so good...no sickness, however, I do have one thing to report: THERE IS NO PROTEIN IN ITALY. None. OK, there is some at McDonald's, but that is about it. A no-carb diet would starve the Italian people to death. A major culture shock for me. Anyway, just wanted to take this moment I had to say hello and to ask for your prayers as my wife flies home tomorrow, and I a week from tomorrow.
Ministering in Milan, Italy
05/10/2005 - James WhiteI am off to speak at two conferences on consecutive weekends in Milan, Italy on the subject of Election and Evangelism. I would covet the prayers of God's people for safe travel and for His blessing upon the ministry. As some of you may recall, I lost the battle with a pretty nasty upper respiratory infection when I flew to London recently, and since I will be speaking over the course of three days very shortly after arriving, I hope to be able to do so in health.
Though there will not be any Dividing Line till I return, I have done my best to prepare the blog ahead of time. I have fourteen articles lined up to post while I'm gone, on a wide variety of subjects. Hence, my absence should only be noticable in the lack of the shorter, "Can you believe this just happened?" type of entries. Hopefully you will still find something useful and edifying to read here on a daily basis while I'm out of the country. And if anyone knows where to find IsoPure protein in Italy, drop me a line. :-)
Another Neat Note on God's Providence
05/05/2005 - James WhiteYesterday I posted a small picture of my great grandparents from 1889. Here is one of them from years later. Why post this?
Well, my father graduated from Moody Bible Institute in the mid 1950s. He met my mom while a student there. When I first began to show an interest in studying the Bible, he bought me two reference sets: Robertson's Word Pictures and the work of one of his own professors while at Moody, Kenneth Wuest. He would tell me how tough Wuest was as a Greek professor. In those days you had to take Greek if you took the "pastoral track" at Moody, but you didn't if you did the missions track. So it was said that Kenneth Wuest was responsible for sending more men to the missions field than anyone else.
Anyway, I had the rather enjoyable experience of informing my father of something he did not know this week. I obtained the obituary of his grandmother, and one of the things we learned was this: "Mrs. White was converted to Christ under the preaching of the great evangelist, D. L. Moody, while still in Scotland." What an amazing thing to discover: that my great grandmother was converted in Scotland under Moody's preaching, while my dad graduated from Moody Bible Institute at least seventy years later, and he never knew this fact of family history. Just more evidence of God's goodness "from generation to generation."
My Scottish Ancestors
05/05/2005 - James WhiteThis is the earliest picture I have been able to find of my ancestors. This is Robert and Jessie Jeannette White in September of 1889 in Broken Bow, Nebraska. The tiny baby, barely visible in Jessie's arms, 2 months old, is my grand-father. Robert and Jessie had married in Newton, Scotland, December 11, 1884. So far, on my father's side, all of the lines I've been able to trace have taken me back to one place: Scotland. I'm looking forward to gathering some more information and then, if I can ever find some "personal" time, digging into the tremendous resources now available for establishing an even fuller record of my family in Scotland.
Now, why would I share this information here? No, I'm not trying to explain why in my anime picture earlier I was wearing a kilt, though, that would explain it. The name White or Whyte is a sept of two Scottish clans, Lamont and MacGregor. The locations and names I'm uncovering in my research are, for the moment, pointing more toward MacGregor, but there are some large holes I still need to fill in. But that isn't the reason, either.
I was thinking about that little bundle in my great-grandmother's arms, all of two months old, out there on the wide open plains of Nebraska. How cold it must have been during the winters. How dangerous as he grew up...no medical facilities nearby, no electricity, running water. All the dangers he faced, and survived. All the times God protected him. How many times did God's grace spare his life, and then his son's life, and now my own? The great and majestic God of eternity had a purpose for him, for his son, for me. If I have been called of God to do certain things, gifted to work in the Kingdom in a small area, that purpose flowed through that little bundle in the wide expanse of Nebraska in 1889, for I am who I am because of him, and his son, and so many others who were alive in other places in that day. And as I thought of all of my ancestors I could not help but be in awe of God's sovereign decree and its providential outworking in time. His purpose in their lives was perfectly fulfilled, and, beyond that, their impact through time was not some uncertain, hoped-for thing in God's plan. Their descendants are exactly who God decreed they would be, and are doing what He intended, to His glory.
What a sense of pity I have for the open theist who tries to worship a halting God who is constantly frustrated in His plans and purposes. And what of the legions of pseudo- and post-evangelicals who no more worship a sovereign God than they believe in His electing grace or in His eternal decree--a God they call sovereign but who is, in reality, very much under their control? I take great joy in the recognition of God's power in His sovereign decree. I feel very small, very powerless as I ponder it, but, at the same time, I look at that little bundle in my great grandmother Jessie's arms, out there in the wilds of Nebraska, and I can just imagine her singing to that little guy in her Scottish brogue, and I know in God's purpose that little one was safe---perfectly safe, sustained by God's loving grace. God had a purpose for him--and his son, and for me. What a thought.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. (Isaiah 40:28)