Friday, December 19, 2014

Saving Big Bucks on a Christian Education -- Undergraduate Primer

The maximum loan limits for the ungraduated Stafford loan is currently $57,500. Somehow, this knucklehead maxed out his Stafford limit! This does not include Pell and other grants that do not have to be repaid. Someone asked how I would repay my loans. My response was simple: “I will have to be successful.” I hope that is the case.

So, how can one save money on college loans? First, if you must borrow-- as about 75 percent of students must-- only borrow the minimum amount needed. Otherwise, the remainder will be refunded to you each semester. This extra money may be necessary for your living expenses. Just remember, the money is great until you have to repay.

My best advice on saving money on your degree is to start at a community college. In-state community colleges offer the same undergraduate classes at a fraction of the cost of a university. All community colleges have a transfer program: you can get half of your bachelor’s degree credits on the very cheap. Many community colleges have their classes online as well.

Do not forget about the CLEP program. For example, I passed the English CLEP test, which awarded 6 college credit hours (equivalent to 2 college classes) for only $50! This alone saved me over $2,000. For a list of CLEP classes, check their website. Using this technique, you will have to be well versed in the content, which means studying and being ready for a challenging test! As always, check with your college to confirm they will accept the particular test. Universities will have a limit on how many CLEP credits they will accept. Max those out, it’s the cheapest way to obtain college credits.

Let’s say you may not know a subject quite well enough to CLEP it. Many colleges allow credits from the website Straighterline. These classes are at your own pace. If you can study fast, you can certainly save money here; however, I hear these classes are not well polished. I think on top of the books, you pay $99 per month until you pass the class or withdrawal. Double check to make sure you college accepts credits from this company and you are taking the correct class.

Finally, do not buy new books from the college bookstore. I suggest that you use and for price comparisons. Barns and Noble allows you to rent certain textbooks. It is generally easier, in my experience, to match up Barns & Noble edition numbers and publication dates for their used books. This way you know you are getting the correct book. The ISBN # alone is not sufficient. Match up those edition numbers to have the correct version. Textbooks are constantly updated for financial profit. Also, both websites have e-books which are cheaper than buying new. However, buying used books is the way to go if you want to save money. I would buy early in case there is a problem with these third-party used booksellers.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jesus' Deity in the Book of John

In John’s Gospel, Jesus made seven “I am” statements, plus other general statements that simply claim that “I am.” Each “I am” statement shows Jesus’ deity in a different light. The fifth “I am” will be the subject of this essay. John 11:25-26 (KJV) proclaims: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” This statement really ties all of the “I am” claims together and strongly points to Christ’s deity.

Jesus’ use of the name “I am” pointed to His deity. Elmer Towns explains, “This affirmation is taken from the root word for ‘Jehovah,’ ‘I am that I am’ (Exod. 3:13-14; Jn. 4:26, 18:5-6).” Other verses that would immediately come to an observant Jew would be, “I am the God Almighty” (Gen. 17:1); “I am the Lord, your healer” (Exod. 15:26); “I am the first and I am the last” (Isa. 44:6). These verses tie Christ’s “I am” sayings to the OT and shows that He is the same God, not a different one, that Moses and the prophets wrote about.

The “I am” statements must have been perplexing claims to Jesus’ hearers. They didn’t understand what He was talking about; however, they knew Jesus was making a claim of deity. “Jesus asserts his own divinity by his august claims of ‘I am’,” writes A. M. Okorie. He goes on to contrast the way Jesus spoke to the people versus how the prophets proclaimed God’s message. Jesus was more than a prophet. He spoke the Word of God with authority (Matt. 7:29). No prophet could make the claims that Jesus made. No prophet would want to make such claims because these claims made many wonder if Jesus was insane or a blasphemer.

Nevertheless, Jesus made these claims because they are true. He proved them all. This claim, about being the resurrection and the life, was illustrated in John 11. This was a time when Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died, and had already been laid to rest for four days in a tomb. Martha and Mary, Lazarus’ sisters, were waiting on Jesus to show up. They both knew of His reputation of miracles and His love for Lazarus. Surely Jesus would show up. Perhaps Jesus would even show up before Lazarus’ imminent death and heal his sickness.

Perplexingly, Jesus didn’t show up in time to heal his friend. Jesus seemed to have purposely waited too long. Although Jesus knew of Lazarus’ illness, he made no attempt to meet him straightway (v. 6). Jesus arrived four days late. A close friend would generally arrive on the first day of the death of a loved one. We can see the disappointment of the sisters in the text. Mary didn’t even bother to meet Jesus when He arrived. This shows the state of her faith; she was wholly devastated. Perhaps she was so overcome with grief that she was oblivious to Jesus’ late arrival. Besides, what good is it if Jesus shows up now – four days late! Conversely, the other sister Martha does meet Jesus and declares: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (v. 21). The following short discourse tells us important details about what followers of Christ believed in that day. Martha continued, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee” (v. 22).

Here we see that Martha really didn’t understand to whom she was speaking with. She did not understand that Jesus was the very incarnation of God. Elmer Towns points out her faulty belief that Jesus was inferior to God when she said, “God will give you whatever you ask” (Jn. 11:22, NIV). Jesus was equal with God; He didn’t have to ask a superior for a favor. In these days, Jesus was merely an outstanding prophet or rabbi to most followers. When Jesus informed Martha that her brother would “rise again”, she didn’t understand Him. She responded, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” This shows that many Jews only believed in one final resurrection on “the last day.” Their worldview didn’t include the possibility of someone rising from the dead prematurely. Martha simply couldn’t accept what Jesus was telling her.

It was within this context that Christ makes a shocking claim. He informs Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (v. 25-26). Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world (v. 27). Martha spoke those words; however, she still didn’t know exactly who Jesus was. On some level, this is always the case with God’s people since God is bigger than our comprehension.

When Mary realized that Jesus was calling for her, she hastily made her way to Him and stated the same thing her sister had previously, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (v. 32). Both sisters expressed their doubts about Jesus’ ability to right the situation. Jesus wept at the hurt He saw in the sister’s eyes, as Jesus too loved Lazarus. Jesus could also have been thinking of his own soon-coming crucifixion and death and the hurt it would bring His followers. The following sequence of events is only recorded in the book of John. Jesus instructed the onlookers to remove the stone that sealed the body within the cave. This was an incredibly inappropriate request to make concerning a man who had been dead for four days. Martha objected. Jesus assured everyone that if they would believe they would see the glory of God (v. 40). After a brief prayer for the sake of the onlookers, Jesus “cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.”

One of the most awesome sights ever witnessed followed.

Lazarus indeed came forth, still bound in his grave clothes. This miracle was not only an awesome sight to witness; it went against everything the Jews believed. How could one be resurrected before the last day? What kind of man could do such a miracle? The Pharisees concluded that if Jesus wasn’t stopped that everyone would believe in Him (v. 48) causing them to lose position and power.

One spiritual analogy especially sticks out to this writer. Verse 44 states: “Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.” This is what Jesus was talking about when he made the claim of being the resurrection and the life. The raising of Lazarus was a foreshadowing of the salvation that Christ would bring into the world. The apostle Paul points this out plainly in Eph. 2:1 (NIV):
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus …
Many see salvation as a ticket to eternal life, redeemable at a future date. This isn’t true: eternal life starts when one is born again. Believers already have eternal life through Christ. Elmer Towns sums it up concisely when he stated that all Christians have eternal life which is based upon Christ’s resurrection. This is a prime example of Christ’s deity. If this claim isn’t true, then everything in the Bible is meaningless and worthless. As Leon Morris points out, “Jesus does not say simply that he will give resurrection and life, but that he is resurrection and life.” The fact the Christ has power even over death clearly shows His deity.


Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ. Grand Rapids: Michigan, 1989.

Okorie, A M. 2001. “The Self Revelation of Jesus in the ‘I Am’ Sayings of John’s Gospel.” Currents in Theology and Mission 28, no. 5: 486-490. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCO/host (accessed October 5, 2013).

Towns, E. John - Believe and Live. Chattanooga, Tennessee: AMG Publishers, 2002.

Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008.

This essay is (c) 2013 by J. Keith Tysinger and released into the public domain. It was originally an assignment for Liberty University. It may be the first essay that I made a perfect grade on.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts

The following essay was originally for a class project. Please add a comment at the bottom and let me know what you think.

Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts
 Spiritual gifts were given to believers at Pentecost for the edification of the Church. Spiritual gifts allow one to perform a service or ministry within the church . Spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit are sometimes confused. Spiritual gifts are grace gifts, while the fruit of the Spirit includes the attributes of one who is “in step with the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). In Galatians 5, Paul contrasts our old sinful nature with our new nature in Christ. This new nature produces the fruit of the Spirit (v.22), “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These attributes show ones spiritual maturity.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Christ was known as a worker of miracles, which characterized His kingdom. After His ascension, Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26) that would “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” In the second chapter of Acts, we see the fulfillment of this promise. The Baptism of the Spirit was an empowerment of God’s people to edify the church and fulfill God’s will on Earth. Jesus was not going to leave His kingdom empty of the same power He demonstrated during his earthly ministry.

One spiritual gift that gets the most attention is perhaps the gift of tongues. A Biblical definition of tongues is given in Acts 2. The gift of tongues was sometimes used as a “divine affirmation” of new converts. In the early 19th century, a group of Bible students from Topeka, Kansas were asked to identify the evidence of being baptized in the Spirit. One student, Agnes Osmond, began “speaking in tongues” while researching this topic. The students then adopted the belief that tongues were the initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Ghost. Pentecostals still hold this doctrine; thus, they believe that being baptized in the Spirit is a separate work of grace apart from salvation. However, we should never allow an experience to dictate our doctrine.

Using Acts 19 as a proof-text, Pentecostals often point out that some disciples had a separate experience in God after salvation. The passage doesn’t support their claim. It is clear the disciples in question received the Holy Ghost straightway after putting their faith in Jesus (v. 5-6) as opposed to John the Baptist. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that every believer has a measure of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14) as God’s earnest deposit. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again.

In many places in the NT where a believer receives the Holy Ghost, the receiver begins speaking in unknown tongues. However, St. Paul asked the question, “Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Cor. 12:30). The implied answer is no. Apparently not every believer speaks in tongues, as not every believer has the gift of healing. This does not mean that tongues have already ceased nor any of the gifts ended. Indeed, St. Paul predicted that tongues will “be stilled” (1 Cor. 13:8) and that knowledge will “pass away.” Clearly this passage hasn’t come to pass. In fact, it sounds like hyperbole – he was simply pointing out the superiority and lastingness of love. The purpose of tongues, like the other spiritual gifts, is for edification. St. Paul teaches that unless someone interprets, the gift only edifies the one doing the uttering; conversely, it can hinder a service if misused.

Many cessationists would strongly disagree with my position, insisting that the Gifts have ceased at the end of the apostolic age. They cite 1 Cor. 13:8-10 to support their claim. Verse 10 states, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” To apply this fairly obscure verse to the gifts of the Spirit is beyond dubious. It is clear that St. Paul is speaking of a time when believers can see, not “in part”, but “clearly.” The very fact that believers are still debating proves my point.


Speaking in tongues is not the necessary sign that one has been baptized in the Holy Ghost. Not every believer speaks in tongues, however, it follows that since the gifts are still in operation, tongues are still valid today. I can find no evidence that the gifts were to cease before the Lord’s return. That being said, many of the gifts appear to be in operation on Christian TV by super-star evangelists. I must add that everything that speaks in tongues and puts on a show is not of God.


Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001.

Note: this essay was originally for a small class project at Liberty University (2013). It is released into the Public domain; Please use freely giving credit to this blog and/or author. This essay deviates from both classical Pentecostal and mainstream Baptist doctrine. I have found Baptists, however, to be much more open minded than I ever expected. I'm enjoying my stay at Liberty. They even respect my Charismatic Christian worldview. In fact, many students share it!

P.S. I do not want to give the impression that I believe that either one has the Holy Spirit or he or she does not; rather, I believe Christians, more specifically, certainly can have different measures of the Spirit. It is very evident in the many different churches I have visited. Frankly, some pentecostal churches I have visited were less spiritual than some non-charismatic churches.

I believe that one is as close to God and as spiritual as he or she wants to be (James 4:8, KJV). I have visited churches where the presence of God was so strong that it made me never want to leave the place. Conversely, I have visited churches that seemed to be having a religious service, which bored me to death. I couldn't wait for it to be over.

What are you thoughts?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Baptists vs Charismatics

I am now attending Liberty University, a Baptist college. I still can't spell Baptist; The spell checker always helps me out.

I thought I would hate Liberty. Aren't Baptists anti-charismatic and anti-academic? Nope. Not all of them anyway,

Non-charismatic folks are clearly missing something, but I am finding out that charismatics are missing something too. Something fundamental. Something at the heart of the gospel.

It's the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20, NIV).

Many charismatic and Holiness folks set up rules that get them "off the hook" to minister to sinners. Sinners, of course, don't belong in the church anyway. We have to separate ourselves from them even if it means not telling them about salvation.

Only empty religious beliefs can dictate such rules. Jesus never did. He was called a "friend of sinners" (Mat 11:19, KJV). He was also called a drunk and a glutton (Lk. 7:34) for making time with the lost sheep. Perhaps Jesus wanted to hang out with these people rather than the hyper-religious hypocrites which rejected Him anyway.

Who could blame Him?

Luke 5:32 states: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Jesus loved sinners.

P.S. The large brush I'm using, of course, is for effect only. I love both the charismatics and "Babtists." I only want to get my readers thinking, and thinking outside of our often faulty religious paradigms.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Recommended Foundational Books

I would like to list several books for you Bible students to enjoy. Every teacher, preacher and Bible student needs a solid Biblical foundation. Too often our only foundation is our Sunday School classes way back when. Those elementary classes aren't nearly sufficient. I've found the most valuable Christian books written are from authors that challenge me. Think about it. If an author sees everything as you do, you can't learn a single thing.

Following are some books that every preacher and teacher should read to build that solid foundation. Not only teachers, but anyone who wants to learn more about the Gospel should consider these fine books. If you are a teacher in any capacity, you should always be reading books that challenge your Christian worldview. Otherwise, this humble author thinks you should get our of the business.

The following books are a few for starters:

by Albert M. Wolters. This is my favorite Christian Worldview book. As a new Christian, it could be the first book you read. It will give you a fresh perspective on the Bible that you will need to build on. It's also a great read!


by Wayne Grudem. Dr Grudem give a very balanced reformed view of the Bible. He also has some more involved books on Systematic Theology when you are ready.


by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. This book offers an astute paradigm for interpreting Biblical text. It's written by two college professors that offer a lot of insight into reasonable exegesis of God's Word.


by Morris Espien. If you are like me, the Jewish worldview is difficult to wrap one's mind around. This book, written by a Rabbi, can shed a lot of light on the way the Old Testament has been interpreted historically by observant Jews. The book offers a free education on important motifs in the Bible. Let's face it, most of us know little about the Old Testament and this book is a great primer on Judaism.


by Gary Wills. He is also the author of another excellent book, WHAT PAUL MEANT. As a Catholic author, Mr. Wills brings to the table a provocative and fresh look at the Jesus of the Gospels. This is one of the most important books I have read. It is simply a must read. If you only read one book from my list, read this one.


by John Ortberg. This book had me spellbound. It is great for anyone traveling through the valley. I can't think of a better book to bring edification to the body of Christ.

I would be very glad to hear of additional foundational books. Please share your recommendations in the comments.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Sometimes we just need a word of encouragement. I thought I would share some encouragement from Brother Huskins.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Decent to Compassion

I would like say kudos to Steve Wright’s new book, “The Decent to Compassion.” Mr. Wright now pastors "The Legacy Church" in Charlotte, NC. However the backdrop of the book is San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, where he fostered a church from the homeless, addicts and prostitutes.
His “congregation” was so unruly that he had to move to different locations because invariably the landlords didn’t want the hassle of this group. Sunday mornings would bring homeless men and women pushing their shopping buggies, cursing, and fighting among themselves. It was not unusual for fights to break out in the middle of service. This bunch was so bad that trash baskets had to be installed on either end of the altar so people could toss in their drugs after they gave their lives to the Lord.

This church was known as the “Hot Dog Church” because of the free meal after each service. It certainly wasn’t your typical church. It wasn’t one that Mr. Wright had signed up for, but it was exactly where God wanted him.

I have talked with some Christians who believe that non-Christians have no place in church. I can see the logic in this; however, I can also see the error.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Rom 10:14, NIV)

More information about the book can be found here: Decent to Compassion

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can God Change His Mind?

Does God change His mind? This was a question in a computer Database class. Since I go to a Christian College, we integrate Christ and Biblical principles as often as possible, even in nonreligious classes. Here is the question and my response. The teacher called my response "compelling." Hmmm. Question from the teacher:
I'd like to invite you to read and comment on the perspectives presented in this blog titled "Does God Change His Mind?" As we discuss business rules, can you draw any comparisons or differences between the instances where God changes his response based on our behavior, which deviates from the doctrines he established for us, and the client who indicates "that's what I said, but that's not what I meant" as he is reviewing the prototype application designed using his specified business rules? As database developers, what steps can we take to minimize these types of scenarios? Prof. McCoy Source: "Does God Change His Mind? Divine Repentance by R.C. Sproul," Grace Online Library, retrieved July 3, 2012 from
I think God can change His mind. In (1 Sam 15:10 [KJV]), the writer seems to imply that God can change His mind. “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. Some translations use different words for “ repenteth” like “I regret”, “I am sorry”, and “I am grieved”. In any case, I believe God can see far off. He knows the beginning to the ending. Apparently, God promoted Saul to kingship despite knowing that Saul would fail. Saul’s shortcoming didn’t take God by surprise. Perhaps it was in Saul’s power all along to please God but Saul simply didn’t. Sanctification is partly the Christian’s responsibility, and partly God’s. It takes teamwork. God will not come down and force the liquor bottle out of our hand. There are things we must do in order to please God. (Rev 19:7 [NIV] declares that “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

Finally, I think some try to make everything black and white, and simplistic. God is so great that sometimes we simply don’t have perfect answers for these types of theological questions. As religious studies major, the more I learn about God, the more questions I seem to have. I’m not even sure it is supposed to work like this.

I think God will be telling many of us “that's what I said, but that's not what I meant” on the last day. Sometimes we simply do not do our homework (praying, studying) God’s word to understand it, the same we fail with a client’s database design request (communicate and learning the business).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ambassadors for Christ & The Greatest Commandment of All

(2 Cr 5:20, KJV)
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

The apostle Paul is reminding us of a profound truth: we are ambassadors for Christ. What is an ambassador? Christians are diplomatic agents from another country (Phil 3:20). As Christians, we are commissioned by the King of Kings to represent Him in the earth. Indeed, we Christians are the very representatives of Heaven!

I urge my fellow brothers and sisters to imitate Christ in regards to how we treat others. We are to treat others the way Christ did in the first century. God cares more about how we treat others than all other religious activities combined. Let's read the greatest commandment of all again:

(Mk 12:30-31)
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Notice Jesus uses the word neighbor, and not friend or relative. We know that even the worst of sinners love their own family and friends. What is to separate Christians from the world is that we are to love others gratuitously -- as God loves us!

In simple terms, we Christians are to be God's voice, hands and feet in the earth in this temporary assignment as ambassadors. The idea to feed the hungry, visit the sick and the ones in prison, and to aid strangers isn't just a good idea, it is the chiefest of commandments (Mat 25:35-46).

In closing, let me encourage us all to rid ourselves of unbecoming attitudes that limit our service to our King. How many time have we seen a homeless person and thought

1) They are making more money than I am panhandling on the street
2) They are drug addicted
3) They failed to plan for their future
4) If a man not work, let him not eat (a perversion/misunderstanding of the Biblical text)

These attitudes "let us off the hook" so that we may circumvent one of the most important commandments of all. As Christians we are called to get involved and to show our neighbors God's unmerited grace through our own actions.

We are the only Jesus some people will ever see and the only Bible some people will ever read. As the body of Christ, we truly are God's voice, hands and feet in the earth. In the first century, God manifested Himself in the person of Christ Jesus (Jhn 14:9). Presently, He manifests Himself in His Church -- the Body of Christ with Jesus as the head.

Friends, we have work to do and time is short. Fulfilling this commandment requires taking some risks and "getting our hands dirty." Aren't you glad that God is a God who isn't afraid of getting His hands dirty when He reached down and brought you and me into the Knowledge of his Son? God is a worker. He expects us to demonstrate His love and grace in this very temporary world.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

God's Word is His Will

God's Word is His will. This is a very simple and important truth that many Christians fail to grasp.

Let's take healing for example. In the Gospels, I can find no instances where Christ failed to meet any need that was brought before him. Often all manner of sicknesses were cured. Hungry people were fed. Broken hearts were mended. It seems you couldn't be in Jesus' presence without being changed.

Having our needs met is fundamental to the Christian faith. Jesus instructed us not to even consider our needs, because God takes it on Himself to meet every one of them.

(Matt 6:25 [KJV])
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

There is no problem that God's Word doesn't have a solution for. I know the naysayers claim that God has retired and His promised were for a by-gone era. But these people do not know the Jesus of the Gospels. Jesus never changes and he is still moved with compassion. He still takes care of every need of His followers.

Jesus' Word is His will and we don't even have to pray about God's will concerning our needs, including healing, marriage restoration, financial problems (etc ...) or any of the promises we find in the Bible.