I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ft. Wayne

Well I have arrived safely in Ft. Wayne and am now kicking back at the Kjergaard abode. We just finshed up some pizza so here's my update: The flight was good...I hit Charlotte & Detroit on my way here too. I got the tour of the Cedar Creek church building (it's big). I saw my first Amish carriage and Amish family (with cell phone!). We ate lunch at Culvers and it was tasty (we could make room for one in Newport News for sure). Tomorrow we are heading to a local rib place and then the men's retreat begins in the evening. I almost forgot to mention that there are several inches of snow on the ground - very nice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Love Lake James

"Lake James..." "Lake james..."

I'm speaking at a Men's Retreat at this camp this wekend. I hope this brother is there. It supposed to be COLD. I'm going there at the invitation of my friend Mike "Soren" Kjergaard. I'll also be preaching at Cedar Creek Church of Christ (where Mike serves) on Sunday. Please pray for me - I get really nervous before I do this kind of stuff. Anyway, it will be a blast hanging out with Mike. I'll try to drop a another blog post in soon.

John Piper - Be Couragous, President Barack Obama

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Born Again?

See John 3:1-10

v. 3-5: In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." 4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

“Born gain” = “born of water and the Spirit” = ???


1. “Water” = physical birth (=Amniotic fluid???)

Physical birth in NT: “Born of flesh” = John 1:13, Rom 1:3 & Gal 4:23, 29 (never "born of water")

Tim Warner: "Some have supposed that Jesus meant physical birth when He spoke of being “born of water.” However, there is nothing in Scripture or Jewish tradition to suggest that “born of water” refers to physical birth. Even Alfred Edersheim, the Jewish Christian scholar, equates “born of water” here to baptism1. But, more importantly, to say that one must be born physically in order to inherit the Kingdom is a redundant statement. No one exists who has not been born physically, except the angels! To include physical birth as a prerequisite for partaking of Christ’s Kingdom makes no sense!"

2. “Water” = Spirit (i.e., “living water”)

Yes, but when water represents Spirit it's accompanied with “fountain” or “living”

Wayne Jackson: "The Lord was not arguing that unless one “be born of Spirit and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

“Born gain” = “born of water and the Spirit” = BAPTISM!

This is consistent with Jesus’ style:

Þ John 2 = destroy this temple…
Þ John 6 -= eat flesh & drink blood…
Þ John 7= living water…

1. Grammatically

Jack Cottrell: "That the Holy Spirit is the origin or source or cause of the new birth is the origin or source or cause of the new birth is accepted as very natural. Thus it is quite a jolt to recognize that the same preposition and the same grammatical form used for “Spirit” are used for water. It is a single prepositional phrase, with a single preposition which has two objects joined by the simple conjunction kai (“and”). Such a construction… brings the two objects into the closest possible relationship, marking them as two aspects of a single event."

Water & Spirit could’ve been separated grammaticallybut they are not.

2. Prophetically

Ezekiel 36:26-27: 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Zechariah 12:10: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Zechariah 13:1: "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

Norice: v.10: "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?

Nicodemus, as Israel's teacher should have known better!

3. Contextually

John the baptizer is baptizing & Jesus (through his disciples) is baptizing…

John 3:22: After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.

John 1:25-26, 28: 25questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 28This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John 1:32-33: 32Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

Notice: At Jesus’ baptism = conjunction of water and Holy Spirit.

4. Historically

David Bercot: "I still remember the first time I read Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “Truly I say to You, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5). I was a young boy at the time, and I was reading that verse in a small Bible study group. The teacher asked the question, “What does it mean to be born of ‘water’?” I thought for a moment and quickly raised my hand. “Jesus must have been referring to water baptism,” I blurted out, feeling proud of myself for having figured this out. However, to my chagrin, the teacher explained that this was a common misconception and that ‘being born of water’ was not water baptism. Through the years I was able to correct others who mistakenly thought that this passage refers to water baptism. I felt very knowledge-able to be able to explain the “correct” view. So it took the wind out of my sails when I discovered that the early Christians universally understood Jesus’ words to refer to water baptism."

Bercot lists over 80 quotes from the early Church fathers about the meaning of baptism all of them are in perfect harmony with the biblical teaching that baptism is the time of salvation. (See Bercot's "A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs")

110-165 AD Justin Martyr - "He that, out of contempt, will not be baptized, shall be condemned as an unbeliever, and shall be reproached as ungrateful and foolish. For the Lord says: 'Except a man be baptized of water and of the Spirit, he shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.' And again: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be damned.'" (A contemporary of Polycarp who knew John!)

120-205 AD Irenaeus - "As we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord. We are thus spiritually regenerated as newborn infants, even as the Lord has declared: 'Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"
(He was discipled by Polycarp!)

140-230 AD Tertullian - "Baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged into the water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from our sins" … "The prescript is laid down that 'without baptism, salvation is attainable by none' chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, 'Unless one be born of water, he hath not life.'"

5. Retrospectively

When we look back through the lens of the NT this becomes apparent...

Titus 3:5: He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (“bath of second birth”)

Col. 2:12 (ESV): 12Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Rom. 6:3‑4 (ESV): 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

*Jesus is spoken of as "firstborn from the dead" = resurrection & birth are used as synonymous concepts.

Matt. 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13: For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.

Acts 2:38: Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, have you been born again?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is it over for the GOP?

Pat Buchanan make some pretty convincing points in his latest column.

Warren uses the J-word and a few more...

Rick Warren's invocation was much anticipated and controversial before it was ever uttered. You can easily find it on the internet if you missed it. I'm posting the last part...

"I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life -- Yeshua, Isa, Jesús, Jesus -- who taught us to pray:

Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

So, Rick did use the J-word(s), the I-word, the Y-word on purpose (pun intened)! I can only imagine what would've been said had he delivered these words at McCain's inauguration instead of Obama's. I'll be interested to see the fallout or lack thereof in the media.

New Class at OCC

Last Sunday we started a new Sunday school class at Olivet. We had a great turnout numerically with several folks coming for the first time. That was encouraging. The best part for me was seeing my friend Billy Dyer in action. I spent significant time talking with Billy discussing the Scriptures and theology, etc. I knew he was a serious student and was knowledgeable of God's word. I knew I liked his blog. I knew he had been well trained at Summit Theological Seminary. I, however, had yet to see him in action --- teaching. I was impressed with his content as well as his presentation. He was prepared and we learned. It was great and he was well received. I plan on recording future classes and posting them on the church website. I encourage you to check it out. I'll post a link here when it happens.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Worst Thing?

What is the worst thing that could happen? I asked that question this past Sunday? How would you answer it, especially without a lot of deliberation? There are many horrible things that could happen. And some of you have beeen through some really difficult times already. And, perhaps, the worst is yet to come.

I asked the question in the context of a broader question: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" This question was part of our "You Asked For It" sermon series. Anyway, I wondered what people would consider to be the worst thing that could happen....death of a child...death of a spouse...a terrible disease...being a victim of an unthinkable crime...the list goes on and on. All of these have something in common = suffering = bad things happening.

Why do such things happen? The capacity to choose (free will) resulted in the possibilty and ultimate reality of sin. The world has been spiralling downward ever since. Jack Cottrell wrote, "God is responsible for the possibility of sin but not its actuality." In this fallen world stuff, bad stuff, happens. Sometimes we reap what we sow. Sometimes we are impacted by what others do. Sometimes this fallen world yields suffering. And sometimes its not apparent why we suffer. Now, back to original question. What's the worst thing that could happen? The answer: Suffering without Christ!

Remember this: Christ will ultimately put an end to suffering for Christians... Thank God!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A little of this & a little of that...

So, what's been going on these last few weeks?
  • The Willis family has fully embraced the Nintendo Wii (it lives up to the hype!). I'm also the self-proclaimed Roger Fderer of the Wii Tennis.
  • The fam has finally entered the digital age. The "rabbit ears" are gone & FIOS Extreme HD is in the house. No more "Why are we the only family without the Disney channel?"
  • Our new Toshiba Regza TV is getting plenty of attention. I got a really great deal at Circuit City. HDTV is pretty cool.
  • Our b-ball team is 2 & 0! (I'm the assistant coach for a coed team of 8-10 year olds). It is really, really fun & exciting.
  • I'm overweight (244 lbs.), but coming down gradually (the target is 220-225 lbs.).
  • I did a funeral for a second cousin I never met which, ironically, opened up a world of family I didn't know even existed. i now have discovered another second cousin who grew up with my dad! How cool is that?
  • The "You Asked For It" sermon series is underway. So far I've tackled Psalm 23 & "Why do bad things happen to good people?" This week is answering "What does it mean to be born again?"
  • I've gotten into Facebook. It is pretty cool being reconnected with folks from way back in the day.
  • I've stuck with my Bible reading plan thus far and I'm really digging it.
  • E.L. and I will be heading down to RBC this weekend to speak for the "Timothy Retreat."

I plan on picking up the blogging pace soon...Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Wow, it has been a long time since I've posted, so here goes... There's alot I could write, but I'm going to focus on my resolutions for 2009.
  • Read the Bible (ESV) through.
  • Big book of the month. I'm going to take on some rather large books that I might normally conveniently label "resources." Right now I'm working on Jack Cottrell's "What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit - Power From On High."
  • Lose weight. Nothing new here, but it is certainly time to drop some lbs.
  • Open doors for Mrs. WTBW? Sounds simple, but I've just gotten slack lately, especially with the car door.
  • Begin & end every day with a hug & kiss from Tammy (aka. Mrs. WTBW?)
  • Family devotion time - at least once weekly.

So far...so good...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Truvia™- Coffee :15 2008

That's my sister-in-law, Holly, in the commercial. Pretty cool, huh?

PS. I'll back o blogging soon. I'm still in vacation mode.