Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two Cups

I came across this passage a few months back working through The Cross Centered Life and have been meaning to post on it ever since.

Mark 14:36 "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Most of us are familiar with this passage and it's context as Jesus prays in Gethsemane just prior to his crucifixion. Metaphorically speaking, there's a sense in which the "cup" could refer to the whole process that Jesus knows he will be undergoing in the next 24 hours. Theologically speaking, I think it's even more likely that the cup he's referring to is the cup of God's wrath that Jeremiah speaks of:

Jeremiah 25:15 This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.

It's even more powerful if you read it in context. Either way though, most of us are familiar with Jesus' prayer regarding the cup. Did you remember that he also spoke of another cup? Mark certainly did, in fact it seems to have been on his mind as he composed his Gospel account:

Mark 14:23-24 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them.

Just about 10 verses previous, Mark records Jesus' words about the cup that we get to drink (notice, the text doesn't actually say Jesus drank this one, for what it's worth). And beyond Marks literary/compositional rhetoric, temporally speaking, only a few hours elapsed between these two events, so I dare say it was on Jesus' mind too. He drinks the cup of God's wrath so that we might drink the cup of God's blessing. Interestingly enough Jeremiah also speaks of the New Covenant. Was Jesus meditating on Jeremiah on the night of his betrayal? I can't say, but WOW...what an exchange. Perhaps there's a dissertation on intertextuality in there somewhere, but more importantly it's had some serious impact on my communion meditations in recent days.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Presenting Academic Papers

For any interested in presenting academic papers in the near or distant future, I thought this might be a helpful link to catalogue.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wright Responds

Curious about what Wright thinks about Carson, Piper, and Moo? All that and more here.

(HT: Jim Hamilton)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Barth vs. Bultmann...because of Herrmann?

For you Barth fans out there, I just recently read this reveiw on Christophe Chalamet's book: "Dialectical Theologians: Wilhelm Herrmann, Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann." The review is by Ben Myers and even though contemporary theology isn't my strong suit, the review made me want to buy the book.


Some Thoughts on the Authority of Words

My son has finally reached the age that he is showing himself to be my son indeed, as well as one of Adam's sons; that is, his depravity has begun to bloom exponentially, if I may mix a few metaphors. Though he learned "Ma" and "Da" early on, as well as "Da" with a slightly different inflection that means "yes" (when you become a parent you do learn things like how to distinguish between "Da" and "Da" - it's kinda scary but largely intuitive). Yet, the first word he's really mastered, with regards to using it accurately in most situations, is "No". And he even sounds darn cute when he says it. Sometimes.

His accurate use of "no" likely stems from the fact that he hears us say it often when he's doing something we don't want him to do. He's put 2 and 2 together and determined that you say "no" when people either do something you don't want, or ask you to do something you don't want to do. And he says it just like we do. I was thinking about it the other day and was fascinated by the fact that he understands what it means and how to use it, yet there's still something missing. He doesn't quite get why when we say "no" it IS "no", while when he says "no" if WE say "yes" then his "no" get's overridden. I realized that it all boils down to power and authority. Without getting all metaphysical here, he just doesn't have the authority nor power to bring to pass what he demands; we do, at least in most things pertaining to him. We have God granted authority as his parents and power, because we're just plain bigger, faster and more coordinated (though he is pretty quick and strong for his age).

Of course the parallel here is blatantly obvioius. It is the same with God and that's why in so many ways our view of our God (be it right or wrong) often stems from our view of our parents. And though it's true of the "no"s that He may prohibit, it delightful to think that it is also true of His promises:

I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. NLT Psalm 138:2

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The SBC on Contextualization

No it's not a sick joke, nor an oxymoron. The IMB drafted some statements on Contextualization. While I haven't had time to digest them all, Stetzer recommended them so they must be good :-)

Follow up on the Last Post

Ok, it's pathetic to think it's almost a month later, but with OT at work (and that ain't the former testament) and Thanksgiving and all I been out for a while. Tom tried to post some comments back whent the post went up but wasn't able to so he sent me an email and said I could post them if I wanted to, the greeting being the most important part :-) Since it's been so long, rather than put them in the comment section, I figured I'd make them a separate post:

"Was I absent the day I taught on worldviews, presuppositionalism and speech act theory (and evidently grammar according to your 'Oh What a Night …' post)? I applaud your 'honest' search for just one biblically faithful reason to be a teetotaler – but is there any biblical truth upon which you have a strong conviction (sorry for the overt fundy language) that is based on a singular, biblically-faithful argument? Would I be surprised to see that, even if I had a biblically faithful argument from the text, you would not read that text in the manner in which I do? Finally, do you really think that you are asking a question; I mean, am I really the only one who doesn't think this is an honest request?

Mihelis: "Here's my question, but play on my home field, by my rules, for my entertainment though I think you're pathetic for not holding my view – and by the way, if you do make it through all my hurdles, I get to change the rules."

(Logan-It's Dailey. I've been praying for you (and Baylor with his 15 minutes [and Mihelis]), but the latter keeps ticking me off!)

Ok, Nate again here. the question, summing it up at the end is legit - but that's the nature of blogs. I didn't feel like responding to said arguments, but was curious if there were anymore. Besides, my dictatorial rule of this blog is at least benevolent, hence the posting of these comments :-) Onto a whole nuther issue - the fact that both Mike and Tom got out of my original post some sort of looking to entice teetotlares into an argument was telling. Both of them are great friends whom I respect a ton and have learned immensly from. They are also two guys who know me well. Lessons learned: 1) I probably do have a bit more maturing to do when discussing fundy issues regardless of my motives on this isue. 2) No matter how hard you try, communication in cyberspace or the metaverse if you will (yes an intentional misuse baylor) is difficult at best.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Coming Out of the Closet Without Falling off the Wagon

Ok, so I've been out of the blogosphere for more than a week, so come back with a bang right? Maybe not, but I've been toying with posting on this for sometime now and the time just seemed right. The majority of people who read this blog know I'm not a teetotaler (did I spell that right Logan?); never have been in fact, not even in my hyperfundy days. Of course, by saying I'm not a teetotaler, I'm not implying that I just think it's ok for people to drink alcohol, but rather that I am an active participant in one of God's good gifts.

I thought it would be fun to give 24 hours notice to other bloggers who read this blog and share my convictions to come clean before I posted a list of their names....but decided I'd be kind. Instead, I'd like to pose a question: Is anyone aware of a biblically faithful, logically coherent argument for a teetotalistic position? By biblically faithful, I have in mind both the passages that commend alcohol and passages that indirectly condone it (stuff like John saying that the first display of Jesus' glory was accomplished by turning water into wine...and the good stuff at that). There's a lot of data that just seems hard to get around to me. By logically coherent, I mean it does need to be consistent, but more importantly that arguments like "grape juice" and anything based on word studies alone are dismissed ipso fact as being logically fallacious. I'm not trying to open up a rant in the comments section, I'm just curious if there are any good arguments out there that I've overlooked. Sure, there are circumstances that might arise when abstinence might be appropriate (history of drunkenness, ministering to someone with a history of drunkenness), but I'm referring to a valid teetotaler position. Anybody?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yet Another Quotable Quote

"I want to affirm the fundamentals of the faith and stand in the tradition of historic orthodoxy and the Rule of Faith. But I'd rather be stripped naked, tarred, feathered, and paraded around Tenessee Temple University while wearing a sign saying "I am Bill Clinton's love child, so make me governor of Tenessee" before I became a Fundamentalist."

-Mike Bird, speaking on Fundamentalism - and based on the context, the kind I grew up in :-)

p.s. The CT article he was referencing links to Baylor's blog. Schmoozing...the real reason he went to TEDS :-)

For all you Covey Haters

The Franklin Covey planners have some quotable quotes. Granted there a mix and more or less hit or miss. Nevertheless, this is the best one I've come across:

"Imagination continually frustrates traditions; that is its function."

- John Pfeiffer

I don't know who Pfeiffer is, but if that's not a missional quote, I'm not sure what is :-)

Keller on Contextualization

This is hands down the best thing I've heard on contextualization so far. Tim Keller audio from Covenant Seminary: Part 1 and Part 2. These two are must listen to's.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh What a Night...

While I had every intention of continuing my thoughts on childhood tonight, I'm too wiped. I just got home from work and spent from 6-10pm teaching, non-stop on credit cards, how they work and how to collect on them. That's not even including the rest of the teaching I did this afternoon before dinner. While four hours of non-stop teaching may not seem like alot to those of you who do it for a living, remember: credit cards aren't nearly as exciting as world history, bible or even literature. It ranks right up there with teaching 4 hours of math or grammar. I never cease to marvel at how much credit card junk and gibberish I've amassed into my head over the last 2 years. I used the phrase, "Fee non-assesment to prevent negative amortization as per FDCPA guidelines" on more than one occaision tonight. The scary part is that I actually know what that means and how to use it in a sentence. Even scarier is the fact that several of you reading this do to. Goodnight!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Some Thoughts on Being a Dad

Don't let the title fool you; I'm no pro, but rather a newbie myself. However, since several people I know who read this blog are recent Dad's, will be someday, or will be soon (and there are several of you in this category so don't worry, I'm not destroying anyone's anonymity or secret), I was thinking through what it felt like to be a new Dad and an "expecting Dad" and thought I'd throw some thoughts out there for whatever they're worth.

1) From when my wife was roughly 6 months pregnant till Noah was about 4 months old, I was freaking out about how having a kid would affect our lives and particularly our financial "stability" if you could call it that. Up until she was six months pregnant, it was all fun and exciting. When that belly started to grow, reality set in and I started thinking about budget, discipline, dating, college, etc... Have no fear on this one. In many ways, it's not a big deal. And in the ways it is a big deal...many of them are wonderful changes. Of course, it took me almost 4 months to figure out that diapers are affordable and baby food can be squeezed into a tight budget (especially with some help from the fam and the state :-). And the bottom line - God provides. Sure it affected our lives in other ways, but those are ENTIRELY for the better. I love being a Dad and I love my son more than I could ever have imagined I would. My only regret is definately that we did not start sooner.

2) The first 3 months aren't necessarily a microcosm of what the rest of parenting will be like. Noah's first night home I only slept about 2 hours and Dawn only slept about 1. I remember being scared to death that I wouldn't be able to survive the next six months at this pace. While sleeping patterns do differ for every child and even the same child will change at different stages, my experience has been that routine and predicability are a bit more frequent after 3 months. Plus, you're pretty used to the idea of being parents by then (the learning curve is steep here - you go from 0-60 in the first few weeks alone) and above all, your kid starts responding and developing personality around this time (in other words, ALL of those smiles can't be gas, some of them must really be smiles).

3) Your life WILL change and every child is different. I group these two together because, they're common fallacies for expecting/new parents. You hear people say dumb stuff like the child will adapt to their schedule/lifestyle, because theirs won't be a child-centered home or frowning on a type of discipline method that doesn't include spanking. Maybe these two are overly specific, but I bring them up because that's how I thought. Mea culpa. Whether your home is child centered or not, your lifestyle and schedule will and should adapt to a new family member. Likewise, not all children are alike; thus, different forms of discipline may be effective on different children at different stages. Example - when Noah fussed between 6 or 7 months to 1yr (that is between when he learned no, but still couldn't walk) we knew we couldn't spank him for attitudinal issues because he wouldn't understand why he was being punished. Time outs, on the other hand, were extremely effective, because he loved to be with us so much and he couldn't get around on his own. Though I swore I would never use them, they turned out to be the most efficient and effective way to break his will without breaking his spirit. Live and learn.

There's more I could and may say, but this is long enough as it is. I may do a part two later this week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Marveling at the Lord's Working

I had a great phone call on the way home from work tonight that made my day. I was talking to a couple that housed Dawn and I for several months when we first moved down here to VA Beach for seminary. There was no apartment availability in our price range for the first few months, so they graciously opened there home to us. Sure, it's always a little weird living with total strangers, but they were very hospitable.

I found out later that we were sort of a test case. They had volunteered to house seminary students on a trial basis and we were the guinea pigs. They were new to the church and not very involved or plugged in. Our stay with them went very well and they went on to have many more seminarians in to their home over the next 4 years. It was fascinating to see their involvement in the local assembly grow during that time as well. Last year the Lord took them to another state via a job transfer. During our discussion tonight, I discovered that they are doing very well, plugged into and active in their local church. They shared with me of how the Lord is deepening their trust in Him and strengthening their prayer lifes. They are attending a small church with an older pastor with a BA from a christian college. They have been actively encouraging him to seek out a seminarian for a summer intern to help with his workload and to work with the teens. They even took the initiative to contact the seminary and put in a request for such a seminarian and assured their pastor that they would house him for the summer.

As we wrapped up the call, I was just so how amazed at how God works. He caused them to step out in faith initially to open their home and through their willing ministry He deepened their involvement with His body.

For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gathercole and Williams on the NPP

If you haven't seen it yet, the latest 9 Marks Interview is with Simon Gathercole and Pete Williams, both Cambridge boys now, formerly of Aberdeen. The topic? The New Perspective on Paul. Both of these guys a great scholars and typically handle the issues in a balanced and fair way, and you can count on the fact that they've done there homework. Gathercole did his PhD under Dunn and dealt with the topic too, which always heightens the interest.

Eberhard Busch Lecturing at Princeton

I'm finally breaking my silence in the blogosphere after almost a week out (I've been on sabbatical - at work, doing a manager relief assignment, and occaisionally seeing my family, sleeping only if there was time left over). When I pulled up my google reader account there were over 400 posts to follow up on, though I barely skimmed more than 100 of them. This one caught my interest though - Eberhard Busch will be lecturing on Barth at Princeton Theological Seminary next month. Sure for those of you sweet guys that are in Chicago, that's a bit of a trek, but not for us on the East Coast. Of course I doubt I'll make it with work and all, but I could if I wanted to :-) Anyway the post itself gave some interesting info to. Though I knew Busch was a first class Barth scholar, I never realized he was Barth's last research assistant. That's pretty cool stuff.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

7 Habits Update

I've completed day 2 (out of 3) of my 7 Habits of Highly Effective People class at work. God obviously want me to learn this stuff, because in the last 10 years this is the 3rd time I've been through the material at no cost to self (in fact twice I was paid to go through it). I've finally matured enough to see the value of it. It also helps to have heard Driscoll endorse it (he's cooler than Fressle :-) Anyway, it really does have a lot of common sense wisdom to it and it is one good way (though there are certainly others) to maximize your effectivness and productivity in life. Ironically, based on my own perception as well as feedback from several of my peers in the form of a survey, I already operate by quite a few of the principles intuitively. Nevertheless, I still have plenty of room to improve. Some of the areas on my feedback from the survey were: 1) Learning to delegate 2) Stop procratinating and 3) Planning ahead to avoid crises. Hands down my greatest strength is Habit 5 - seek first to understand and then to be understood. This is so much a part of who I am it's not even funny. I think it was Socrates that said "The unexamined life is not worth living" and i'm starting to agree more and more; particularly in view of the fact that one day it WILL be examined, like it or not. Anyway, good stuff and I hope tools that will help me become a more effective church planter someday soon as well as putting feet to the concept of glorifying God by enjoying Him forever.

Two Caveats: 1) I'm still no "covey-ite" though the man is a tremendous speaker. 2) I still have not repented about Maxwell :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Some Choice Words on Speech

These are two great reads, 1 on intentional foul language, the other unintentional, both are worth your time. First, Dan Wallace on Paul the cussing apostle (thought provoking) then Mark D Roberts on The Stupidest Thing I Ever Said in a Sermon (giggle provoking - I haven't giggled that hard since Logan and Baylor moved out of town). On the later, make sure you reread the paragraph in the manner he suggests.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In the Mix

God's been using my job to teach me a lot lately and I want to honor Him for that. Often the only thing to praise God for with a job in collections is that it meets your needs. However, I've been actively trying to learn all the life lessons I can from improving my teaching skills, to developing my leadership abilities with the opportunities He's given me. Since back in my intern days of mocking John Maxwell, I've never believed that the church should be run like a business (and Fressel still hates me for mocking his boy); nevertheless, working both as a collector and even more so now as a supervisor/trainer for new hires and manager trainee I've learned how to be more assertive and direct (two character traits I've known I'd need to develop for years). Yet, even these gains, bring with them more challenges...the ever present need for balance (yes, I can use that word 5 years later having detoxed from college-and I don't mean alchohol). And in all of that God had reinforced some even more fundamental lessons:

1) The constant need for repentance (something I've been doing a lot of lately). Whether it be for my impatience with teaching somebody whose a little slow on the uptake - impatience generated by underlying arrogance because they're not getting it when I teach and the audacity that I might have to adapt my style any further (as you can see double repentance here) - or the use of my tongue when discussing some of our low performers with my peers...repentance has been a common theme.

2) The constant need for balance. Yeah, I alluded to it above, but I'll elaborate. It's easy to excel in the corporate world by being direct, not being afraid to execute and making good business decisions in a cold and calcuated way. It's a bit more complex (and at times impossible) to do all that and incarnate the atonement simultaneously. This was something originally brought to my attention by a Tim Keller lecture and again more recently in McKnight's book A Community Called Atonement (and some influence in my thinking from Drama of Doctrine here too - that book continues to have a paradigm shifting effect on me - impovisation and all that). As I've moved into increasingly managerial roles trying to exemplify Kingdom values and flesh out the atonement has become increasingly complex. Nevertheless, I've been provided with AMPLE opportunity to apply the Gospel to the workaday world, for which I'm thankful. Nothing more fun (or rigorous) than the missional task of contextualiztion.

3) Life experience. I don't know how else to title this, but the point is I have a FAR better grasp of what life is like for everday blue collar workers - cubicle jockey's if you will. Since this demographic often makes up a large piece of the pie in many churches, I can far better empathize now (and I finally understand why people think Dilbert is hilarious). It comes back to contextualization because being there myself, I can relate and offer concrete illustrations. Discussing contextualization of the Gospel in the seminary class with a bunch of other guys with no kids and whose wife's pay all the bills (yup, that was me) is entirely different from slugging it out in the trenches everyday, depriving your best hours from your family to go support them by dragging yourself to a job you don't like to do, made up of tasks that are hard to justify. Surely there can be more than this; and now I can say yes there is. If you can find meaning and value in collections, you can find it just about anywhere.

Having said all that I have a LOOOOOOOOOONG way to go and appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dever on Evangelism and the Gospel

Justin Taylor has posted links to some free Sovereign Grace MP3's of Mark Dever that have led to his most recent publication on evangelism. If you've ever listened to Dever, talked with him or read what he's written (and I've been blessed to do all 3) you'll know he is a gifted "evangelist" (gosh I hate to use that term) who's incredibly sensitive to the Spirit's moving. Good stuff I wanted to link to for my own benefit.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Reading Update

I put the Navy Seals book to rest this weekend (just shy of 400 pages in one week, possibly a new record for me...and it wasn't even written by Driscoll) but I have some ground to make up in Calvin. I've also become a bit distracted by McKnight's recent work A Community Called Atonement. G reccomended it to me and let me borrow it. It was just intended to be a weekend fling, nothing more than a regular page turn and skim, but by Sunday night I had already read three chapters (they're short). I think it's enough ot put it down for now, but I definately want to come back to it. Still I've passed the 500 mark and I'm still going. Bob would be thrilled to see Calvin spends several sections dealing with the importance of the Ascension as it relates to Redemption, something he (Bob) has elsewhere rightly pointed out is a common neglect. I must admit, though, my tremendous progress in reading nowhere near rivals that of my wife. She banged out ALL of the Harry Potter books between the middle of August and the middle of September. Sure, you may sneer, they're just kids books. Fine, nevertheless it totals to well over 4,000 pages in less than 30 days. Wow. We're looking into a detox program for her even as I type...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Seminary, Automobiles and the Providence of God

I was inclined to try and start this as a meme, but decided just to post my experience along my best recollection of some of my buddies. I remember being in high school wondering if I'd ever really have my own car or just end up driving my folks' car for the rest of my life. Yet, reflecting back on the Lord's provision during my time in seminary it's remarkable to think of how many I've had. Since Baylor, Barker and Logan have been my boys since back in the day, I thought I total up the list just between us four during our days in grad school:

The Mihelis Family:
1997 Ford Escort
What we had when we got to VA Beach with no AC and 98+ temps we traded it FAST
1997 Saturn SL
Hey, it had AC. Plus it only had 60K for miles - still running at 134+
1990 Honda Prelude
Chery bomb muffler, lousy paint job, but a pioneer cd player, my first sunroof, all wheel drive AND all wheel steering
1996 Dodge Stratus
By far the most fun car to drive I've had - driven in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, DC, Milwaukee and several other major metropolitan areas. Totalled by an idiot driving without a license
1999 Chevy Astro
Though I swore I'd never drive a mini-van, it was provided by some folks in our church - Jehovah Jireh - and we camped in it-literally (and you know how i feel about that word)
1990 Volvo 740
From a mini van to a station wagon and all that before our firstborn - wow, but again a marvelous provision of the Lord...and probably the 2nd most fun car to drive I've had even if the sun roof was a hand crank
2001 Ford Explorer
Hands down the nicest car we've ever owned and I love four wheelin on the beach

The Baylors
1990(?) Honda Civic
I think all of us drove this one at one point or another, even after the accident and duct tape
1996(?) Ford Escort
A hatchback and one of the ugliest ever made
Honda CRX
One of the nicer cars Baylor ever had and he got rid of it
Chevy Malibu?
I'm not sure if I even have the make right here, but it's still runnin also after an accident
Honda CR-V
Though I haven't seen it, it's still probably the nicest ride they've had yet

The Barkers
The (Eagle) Summit
You'll notice this is the ONLY one on the list with a definate article. I had to wipe away tears even as I typed it...a moment of silence please.
1995ish Geo (Chevy?) Metro
Nuff said, but boy with gas prices I'd love it today
Blue Ford Something
All I know is after a week or two of deafening metalic squeeling, the axle finally sheered and the front right wheel went one way and the car went the other.
Chevy Malibu
First a loner from Jones and eventually became a lent-to-own
Nissan Pathfinder
They were the first to pick up an SUV and hooked us up with a cool dealer, again a nice ride

The Logans
Dodge Dakota
A nice truck that's still in "the fam" - last I knew Jordan was driving it
The Crocket and Tubbs Motorcycle
Okay, had to bust out the definate article again, but hey, it was pastel
Logan graduated to a real bike (sorry Jones)
1995ish Toyota Camry
Logan's dowry - Lindsey hooks him up with a decent ride - totaled in a wreck that revealed the Lord's marvelous hand of protection
Pimp daddy logan rides again - I changed the breaks on this one
2000something Chevy Blazer
Yes, all of us have SUV's these days

Sum total - 23 cars for four families during grad school (and Baylor and Barker aren't done yet). Did I miss any?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Currently Reading

Since I'm just about done, I'm not going to bother adding this one to the sidebar, but it rocks! Dawn and I were in Barnes and Noble this past weekend and it caught my eye. Always the cheapo, we immediately drove 3 blocks to the library so I could check it out. I started it on Sat night and have banged out about 300 pages already (if only I could read Calvin and Vanhoozer that fast). It's about a 4 man SEAL recon team in Afghanastan back in '05. They got pinned down by roughly a 160 strong Taliban force that held the upper ground. The 4 SEALs wiped out roughly half of them before sustaining any losses, though ultimately only one survived. This book recounts his journey into the SEALs, BUD/S training and Hell Week and then the ordeal in Afghanastan.

Special warfare, particularly the SEALs has always been a hobby of mine and every so often I'll pick up a 400 page book and devour it. The first half of this one makes you want to pray your son grows up to be a SEAL (the training and discipline and toughnes) the second half makes you want to pray he never sees a battlefield in his life. It's amazing, one of the SEALs endured several falls down the mountain side, had his thumb blown off, took an AK round to the back that came out his stomach and 2 more to his neck. He was still firing his M4 as his buddies dragged him out of a clearing. These guys are unbelievable. It's always good to do some outside reading and while the literary style may be lacking here and there, the plotline is entirely compelling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Update on My Reading

Amazingly and ironically I'm perservearing in Calvin's Institutes. Sure, I'm a little behind the curve, but I passed the halfway point of the first volume this past weekend (which is to say I'm almost 1/3 of the way through the whole) and still going. The prognosis, however, is not nearly as good for Marshall's NT Theology. In fact, I haven't touched it in almost two weeks and though I did pound out about 175 pages, I've decided to officially abandon the pursuit. No real criticism for Marshall, it's just not exactly what I was looking for. Much of the material is sort of an advanced survey. I don't personally profit much from this type of approach. I never know whether it would help or hinder to have a text open alongside; I think surveys work best for me when I'm the one doing the survey, firsthand. His synthesis was fantastic though and if you're like me and don't think the survey material matches your learning style you owe it to yourself to at least read the synthesis sections. In it's place, you'll notice on the side margin that I've replaced (yes replacement theology at work here) it with Hay's book on ethics (props to Barker for hooking me up with this volume), which I just started this morning and it looks very promising.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ETS Online AND Searchable

Ok, HT to Justin Taylor (who's been HT'd here enough times that I'm not going to even make it a hyperlink) who in turn has HT'd Phil Gonz (see taylor's page for an HT to him). Bottom line is: I wanted to be able to find this one again without having to save it to my favorites. So, here it is - hundreds of ETS papers online, categorized and searchable.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Tattoo Apologetic...and No that Doesn't Mean I'm Sorry

In the comment section for the post on Piper and tattoos, Logan raised a good question regarding what the context was that Lev 19 was referring to. I started to respond in the comment section but decided it might be helpful to post it here instead. I think what Piper had in mind was the fact that many of the commands regarding outward observances (you mentioned the beard thing, of course tattoos, polyester, hey, even boiling a goat in it's mother's milk) were pertaining to what we today commonly refer to as "boundary markers", that is: things that distinguished Israel from pagan nations around her. While I know some fundy lurker will be quick to point out that WE shouldn't be like the world EITHER, I'd be quick to add that circumcision was the CHIEF boundary marker, yet I don't remember that being one of the closing steps for EE.

If circumcision is out the window, I take it to imply that the beard thing, the polyester thing, the tattoo thing etc. is out too. While I would still recommend avoiding polyester, I hear the goat in it's mother's milk thing can be quite a delicacy. If our heart is circumcised in Christ, it's fair to say we've been "tattooed" with the seal of the Spirit :-)

Much of modern day tattoos are either entertainment or decorative in nature (though some may still be "tribal" so to speak, and I'd avoid those). The primary issue is exactly what Piper pointed out: you don't have to get one, but if you get a tattoo, get it and use it for the glory of God! Hence, post tenebras lux (and hopefully soon - "recovering pharisee"). Granted it was a bit easier to justify when I was a thorough going dispensationalist; I got a bit concerned as my trajectory became more and more reformed, but not too fear - my conscience is indeed robust in this area :-) Of course, there is always the "Driscoll Justification" - The exalted Jesus is no longer a humble Mediterranean peasant....he's a tattooed (His leg) ultimate fighter coming back to rescue His people and destroy His enemies. Okay - maybe, maybe not, but it sure does sound cool!

Not exactly a church plant

While it's not exactly a church plant, the church we're a part of is certainly one that's striving to be Gospel-centered. With our new website up and running, I thought it would still be helpful to link to our site. While there is definately more to come (hopefully podcasts and sermon notes will be up soon) the site looks great already. Check out (and please link to) our new site for Bible Believers Church.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Koine Reader

Looks like there's a sweet new resource coming down the pike pretty soon from Rod Decker, who has, incidently, recently entered the blogosphere.


The right hand of fellowship? Yeah...been there done that.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Piper on Tattoos

If you haven't heard this Q&A yet, it's worth the 5 minutes or so it will take of your time. You might be suprised; I was. Plus it's funny to listen to the interviewer keep trying to nail him down on the OT text. Now I can sleep at night.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kingdom and Gospel Part 4: Roberts Does it Again!

Ok, I'm going to stop talking and just keep point to his series. It couldn't have come out at a better time. In the latest installment, he accounts for why the loss of kingdom language. I definatley see his point, but don't think this means we should neglect it (nor do I get the impression that's what he's implying. But the most valuable part of this post is the story about the "evangelistic approach" of his roomate at Harvard. Great Stuff!

Music Meme

I was tagged by Dave Griffiths on this one. Though it may be short, it's makes up for length with creativity. First of all, I offer his definition:
Music Meme
Meme: "any faddish phenomenon on the internet." (
Wikipedia) Now, the Q&A:

1. You would be surprised that I listen to __________.

I offer two here; an artist in general and a specific song: The artist? Sheryl Crow. I don't know what that says about me, but it is what it is. The song? Enter Sandman by Metallica - Hands down the best song EVER to workout to.

2. You probably have never heard of __________.

This one's easy. BDP (Boogie Down Productions - I swear I'm not making this up...check out the link). I went through a hip hop phase in Jr. High school....well ok, in Jr High shcool I had the hots for a girl who liked hip hop, so I listened to it for a couple of months and even bought some tapes and CDs. Wow. I can't believe I disclosed that in cyberspace. Cathartic....sort of.

3. I hope nobody sees this amidst my collection: ___________.

Hmmmmm. This was a tough one. I actually had to get up and go look at our CD collection. Sure there's the token Wilds or SMS, but that's to be expected. I had to dig into my sermon tape library for this one. A sermon entitled "The Man God Uses" by Tom Farrell.

In turn, I tag Baylor, Barker, Logan (or you can guest post on my blog), G and Bob.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Now THAT's What I'm Talkin About: Kingdom and Gospel Part 3

If my first two posts on Kingdom and Gospel left you confused or unclear about just where I was going with all this, PLEASE take a few minutes to read Mark Roberts post on The Mission of God and the Missional Church. While it is part of a series, the link I used will bring you to the section on the mission of Jesus. It is the best thing I've read in a long time that articulates exactly what I was driving at in the relationship between Kingdom and Gospel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Colossians 1:12-14 and the Kingdom

"...giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

This passage was read this past Sunday in the course of our morning message. The Spirit really captured my attention on the larger context of Colossians 1 and the supremacy of Christ. To put it anachronistically, Paul sounds an awful lot like a Christian Hedonist. Anyway, due to my recent meanderings on the kingdom, my attention was also drown to verse 13, and I found myself a bit stumped. Verse 12 seems to be pretty black and white on the current presence of the Kingdom, but as I thought about it, I don't think this was ever a passage I raised in question to a traditional or revised dispensationalist (ie someone who thinks the Kingdom is wholly future). Mind you, it wouldn't be a problem for a progressive, a covenant premill or amiller. While I can certainly offer my own speculations, I'm curious does anyone know how a normal dispensationalist would dodge...ah I mean handle this text on the Kingdom? Ok, that was a cheapshot, I admit it, but seriously...I'd be curious for a concrete answer from either a dispensationalist, a recovering dispensationalist or even someone who has a "friend" that's a dispensationalist.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lectures on Biblical Theology

While 50% of my posts are already hat tips to Justin Taylor, Mike Bird and Scot McKnight, this ones was just too good to pass up. Creation to New Creation: An Introduction to Biblical Theology is 16 lectures by David Peterson of Oak Hill College that will fill the hefty lacuna some of you may have experienced in your academic studies.

And since I'm hat tipping Taylor already, those of you in Chicagoland ought to keep in mind JP will be speaking on Campus at Wheaton. Apparently "double barrell" was already booked elsewhere....Bruno, shame you for not getting the word out :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Do Christians Make Good Employees?

This question can be answered at least two ways. There is a part of me that wants to say "no" becuase I've been burned on more than one occaision by "christians" with whom I've done business. But of course, you'll notice the quotes and that leads me to the second answer: those who are following Jesus (ie - christians who don't need to have the qualifying quotes around the word) often and typically are good for business and to have as employees.

This has come to my attention in several contexts in which I've been employed ranging from retail to sheet metal shops to the cubicle kingdom in which I currently bear the yoke. Embracing the Christian worldview and the Lordship of Jesus in all of life typically makes you a pretty easy employee to manage. 1) You grasp principles such as authority, submission, discretion, integrity and deference 2) You attempt to live a life of character which results in respectful (read: professional) interactions with your superiors, your peers and your subordinates 3) You strive to do things to the best of your abilities to bring glory to the Lord (ie you demonstrate a work ethic).

Basic, but mindblowing to most bosses. When I worked in the sheet metal shop, it was remarkable to me that my boss LOVED ME because I came in on time, took break and returned on time and was willing to put in occaisional OT as necessary. When I worked in retail my boss was THRILLED that she didn't have to tell me to smile and say things like "thank you" and "sir or maam" to our customers. When I was framing, my foreman would give me practically anything I wanted because I hadn't lost my license for dui's and could actually drive myself to work. And now at the world's local bank, I've had several managers comment on the reliability of the seminary students that work there and it's amazing to see how fast we advance through the system. The irony of the whole thing is that the values they want their employees to live out (perceptive, progressive, respectful, responsive and fair) and the manner in which they want them to behave (treat others as you want to be treated, be professional and polite and kind to your peers and our customers) often have significant overlap with fruits of the Spirit. In fact they could just sum it up by saying "Be like Jesus"....but of course they can't say that.

PS - the comments section on the last Kingdom and Gospel post has far surpassed the content of the post itself. As is so often the case, bouncing ideas off of Mike has helped me hone in on what I'm getting at.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Now Reading

Alright, I think I've made it far enough to go public with what I'm currently reading (I'm finallly going to update my side bar too). I am currently reading The Institutes by Calvin and NT Theology by Marshall. I was reticent to mention these books because: 1) They are both well over 200 pages 2) neither has any pictures 3) Driscoll did not co-author either of these. Nevertheless, I am in book two of The Institutes and closing in on the 100 page mark for Marshall. Will I ever finish either them? Only time will tell...though I'm sure a reprobate snowball would stand a better chance.

P.S. The Kingdom and Gospel discussion is still going in the comment section of Part 2. I may end up with a part 3 in a week or two, but we'll see. Either way, I appreciate all the contributions so far. I tend to sharpen ideas by tossing them out for discussion and I have benefited from all the responses so far. Please keep them coming.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Good Church Plants

Congrats to Osborne and Lerro and company who recently had their first service at Trinity Church in Smyrna, Delaware (outside of Dover). I was thinking about pointing this out in a post for those who may not follow their blogs, but as I thought about it, it occured to me that doing that would also increase the likelihood of the Church coming up via a Google search. That is, the more people link to your site, the easier your site can be found by search engines. That being said, I've already linked to their church in this post and I plan on adding a new category to my sidebar (Gospel Centered Church Plants). I would encourage as many people that have blogs who read this to do the same as another way of helping to advance the Gospel via technology and hopefully help some brothers.

Likewise, since I brought up these guys, I though I'd also mention Providence Community Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, the plant started by Chad and Paul. Please take the 5 minutes or so and post links to these guys as well. There are others coming down the pike pretty soon, Thomas and Valentine, G and Mattias, etc. When I hear of these guys and others planting Gospel centered churches putting together sites, I'll be posting them here as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kingdom and Gospel Part 2

Yes, the inversion of the title was intentional and it kinda tips my hand as to where I'm going in this second post. I'm going to just cut to the chase, with only one caveat: I may be guilty of a PUI (posting under the influence) due to some heavy duty back pain I've been blessed with as of late. I am on both prescription pain killers AND muscle relaxants - all that to say I've got a get out of purgatory free card (read: plausible denial) if any of the following transgresses orthodox boundaries :-)

If the idea of God's people under God's rule is a (the?) central theme of the Bible (and yes that is a big, though highly possible "if" but for present company, we'll just assume it - and yes Thomas and all you other Graeme worshipers you can add to that "in God's place") then I think perhaps we've (by we, I'm thinking western Christianity in the evangelical strain whose roots [at least the western part of them] lie in the Reformation no matter how bad free-willers may try to deny it) tried to replace that center with another. Huh? Ok....

In the last post I made mention of texts that seem to connect the "gospel" to announcements of God's sovereign rule. While I may not be a biblical theology kinda guy (though I'm getting better here) that does seem to be a theme of tremendous continuity connecting the Testaments. So perhaps the "Gospel" could be better summed up as "God's Kingdom is already/not yet coming and you better get on board" as opposed to "Ask Jesus to come into your heart." The center shifts so it's no longer "eternal fire insurance" oh and you get the Kingdom to boot; but rather, "You want the Kingdom, well you need a new heart and the only way you get that is if God replaces your heart of stone with a heart of flesh and gives you new birth by His Spirit." The difference may be subtle as it actually plays out in conversation (and it may not be), but there is a big difference. In the first model, the Kingdom is incidental to personal salvation; whereas in the second model personal salvation is "incidental" to the Kingdom.

If nothing else, this seems 1) to make better sense out of the sort of textual data mentioned in the previous post while still allowing for the the traditional soteriological texts 2) it allows for a more simple continuity regarding salvation in both Testaments (though Ockham's Razor is not infallible) 3) as an added perk, it puts to death the whole Lordship debate.

As G pointed out well in the comment section of the first post, I am not saying the Gospel is less than justification/conversion/redempton etc. It is that AND more. As Baylor alluded, it gives a better explanation of why the Ressurection was so important (Romans 1 - he was appointed Son of God with power...His reign has begun). Speaking of Baylor, his recent post about the criticism Derek Webb has received for defining the Gospel when put on the spot and not including penal substitution (which I would imagine he does hold to), this strikes close to home. The critics (watchbloggers/TRs) consider anyone placing undue emphasis on the Kingdom when talking about the Gospel is "left leaning" (read: Liberal). Nevertheless, I think we may be missing a big part of the Gospel when we claim to be proclaiming it. The good news is Jesus is King! (and as NT Wright would be quick to add 'and Ceasar is not' but there I go off into liberal land again). By simply proclaiming Him as Savior, we are missing part of who He is - a crucial part - and not being biblical (or at least New Testament) in our gospelizing.

This is precisely why the Gospel is a stumbling block to some - yes because of the scandal of a crucified God - but also because they don't want to bend the knee. If Jesus wants to save me, hey, I'm all for it, but if this somehow entails me having to bow before Him, I bow to no one. Yet this is precisely what we've done in western evangelism (I don't know how it's done in other parts of the world, I can only speak of what I know). Perhaps it's because (to hat tip Krister Stendahl) of the "introspective conscience of the West" but often all we care about is "What do I have to do to get out of hell?" or "How can Jesus make my life better?" "Screw the rest of the message, that's all I care about." And such thinking has left us with what I would suggest is a reductionistic and misleading approach to the Gospel. I'm not knocking Reformed theology nor dropping penal substitution or justification; I'm adding and reordering.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'll post more on this if it percolates anymore in the future (and it probably will). I'd also love any thoughts or feedback anyone cares to offer.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Prayer List for your Pastor

Scot McKnight recently listed some statistics about pastors that would and probably should be easily converted into a prayer list for your pastor. Scary stuff.

Recent Acquisitions

If you didn't get in on the DG sale a month or two back, then it sucks to be you. While I was tempted to go hog wild, I limited myself to these three (to be fair, I do already own a book or two of Piper's). Future Grace is a must for discipleship in your church, I plan on reading The Justification of God when I hit Romans 9 preaching through the book (when I plant a church some day) and Dawn and I are planning on reading through What Jesus Demands from the World together.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Vindication of Bruno

No, not the title for book 8, just the facts. All you nay sayers, check this out.

Gospel and Kingdom Part 1

No, not a guest post by Graeme, just some reflections on the topic. As I began to put together the strands for this post, I was amazed by how far back they go. The gist of the question I wish to raise can be phrased a number of ways: What is the Gospel (sure, that one's novel)? What is the message and mission of Jesus? What is the theme of the scriptures? etc, etc. Much has been written and discussed within contemporary evangelicalism (particularly the strands touched most deeply by postmodernity) regarding the corporate dimension of the Gospel/redemption. While I'm not advancing precisely that sort of an agenda, I have often noted that the four books of the NT commonly referred to as Gospels bear little in common with what we call the Gospel nowadays. To be sure they incorporate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (a la 1 Cor 15:1ff), however, that only comes up at the end. Much of the material, particularly the proclamations of Jesus seem more kingdom oriented than "evangelistic" as we often think of it. And don't misunderstand me, I'm not bashing EE here (though I've done that elsewhere); I have yet to see any evangelistic program/presentation/literature, etc. that sounds anything similar to the message proclaimed by Jesus in orientation. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

It probably started when I first noticed that in Romans 10:15 when Paul is talking about the beautiful feet of the ones who preach the Gospel, he's referencing Isaiah 52:7. Now the interesting thing about Isaiah is that the Gospel there, isn't "Jesus died for you" but rather "Your God Reigns." I remember thinking, could this be a summation of the Gospel? My first thought was of 1 Cor 12:3 - No man can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Spirit. Even more obvious, back in Romans 10:9 - If you confess, Jesus is Lord....Now, to take the phrase Jesus is Lord and the phrase Your God reigns....particularly in view of the fact that both phrases occur in "Gospel" context...well, now that's what I call continuity. At the time I brushed it off as being in danger of too much reductionism.

Then, over the course of the last several months, our ss class at BBC was going through the life of Jesus. Again, I became convinced (in large part from what I had gained in reading Wright's JVG, reading the Gospels for the first time in a LONG time and dialoging with my brothers and sisters, especially James Lane) that Jesus was going around spending a ton of time talking about the Kingdom and not so much time about why we should pray for him to come into our hearts. You just don't see that too much in the Gospels.

So all of this has been percolating in my head for a while now. Just a week or two back I was reading in the opening chapters of Acts and I was hit with it again. Peter's sermon in Acts 2 is filled with Kingdom ideology. In fact, repentance doesn't even come up until the very end when the hearers say, "what should we do?" Obviously the message itself didn't answer the question. Typically our "evangelistic" presentations spend virtually ALL of their time explaining what Jesus did and what we should do.

Okay, by now some of you are probably thinking I've gone from fundy, to evangelical right off the cliff to pagan. No, I am NOT denying the individual, redemptive implications of the death of Jesus. What I am saying, is perhaps we've emphasized that dimension of the atonement so much so that it has become the sine qua non of the Gospel, when perhaps that's not exactly what was at the core of the Gospel as it appears in the scriptures. However, this has already turned into much more than I anticipated; thus, I'll put off the defense of my orthodoxy and (more importantly) just what it is I'm trying to say for Part 2.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Piper Online

Justin Taylor has helpfully pointed out here that all of the workshops Piper offers at Bethlehem now have all the audio and class notes online. I'm sure it's old news in the blogosphere by now, but I still thought it was worth linking to here.

Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll

Since my interests in many ways lie in the model of ministry exemplified by Driscoll and Mars Hill, I have had many informal conversations about what I think/know about these topics. Since many of the guys I know have fundamentalist baggage, I thought it might be helpful to post a first hand perspective of Mars Hill from someone with a similar background. I came across this comment in the comment section on MacArthur's post on "grunge christianity" a while back thanks to Jones' link. I since emailed Jonathan and asked if he'd mind if I posted the comment in full on my blog. I appreciate his willingness...you can check out his blog here. Below is his "comment" in full.

Starting off, I’ll openly admit I’m a member at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, where Mark Driscoll is my teaching pastor. I grew up in strict fundamentalism, attending high school at Maranatha Baptist Academy in Watertown, Wisconsin, and taking both my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Bob Jone University in Greenville, South Carolina. I have attended many forms of theologically and culturally conservative churches. I am an armchair theologian at best. I have read quite a few of these comments but did not read all of them, so my apologies if someone else has already addressed this.
The point of Pastor MacArthur’s article seems to be the certainty of sinful results in a life or ministry dedicated to “cultural relativism.” Pastor Mark’s style is offered as the primary example. Whether or not Pastor MacArthur’s article is correct in its overarching theme or not is not my place to say. But I do wish to tell you what I’ve seen and learned since coming to Seattle and joining the work at Mars Hill.
1) Conversions. Mars Hill is one of the most unusual churches I’ve attended. I have never before been involved anywhere where I have seen this number of committed, growing new believers. Twice a year or so, we’ll have major baptismal services, often at one of the beaches around Seattle, wherein fifty to one hundred new, adult converts publically declare their commitment to Jesus. I want emphasize that these are nearly all adults. Prior to coming to Mars Hill when I was 27, I can recall one baptismal service at one church wherein a majority of the converts (seven) were adults.
2) Growth/Sanctification. These new believers do not stay stagnant, nor do they typically leave Mars Hill as they mature spiritually. Seattle is a damaged town. It seems nearly everyone has been or is currently abused, addicted, abandoned, hurt, etc. This is a sad place. What I see happening at church, especially through the small groups I’ve been involved with, is a tremendous amount of change, not by simple personal resolution and determination to be more holy, but by the work of the Holy Spirit. (I have no other explanation for it.) Addicts admit their struggles, reject their idols, love Jesus, share the gospel, and become positive members of society. Fathers and husbands take responsibility for the sin and trouble they’ve wrought in their own lives and in their families and then work for change. People turn from every kind of sexual impurity to live in the light and love of Jesus, no longer abusing others or themselves. For the people of Mars Hill, holiness and sanctification is not just a change of thinking but a change of how one lives one’s life. That doesn’t mean any of us are perfect. Do we participate in a variety of things that my own church background and family’s traditions would consider sinful? Yes, we do. (Being human is not sinful. God has made each of us to enjoy different aspects of his creation and thank him for them.) However, everyone I know at the church is careful not to lead another believer into sin, even if that “sin” is just a conscience issue. We take responsibility to help our brothers and sisters. Do we participate in anything that Scripture plainly forbids? No, we do not. Again, we are also careful to help our fellow believers avoid temptations in their own lives and willingly give up our freedoms for the sake of God’s children. If one of our number does violate Christ’s commands, we confront him or her and help that person walk in repentance and humility. If that person continues in sin, we will deal (and have dealt) with him/her in the way Scripture commands.
For us, sanctification is not an issue of external change. It is the growth of Christ in each of us as we continually submit our lives and actions to him. As he changes us, we begin to see changes in each other, not necessarily in dress or stylistic preferences, but in how we relate to God and one another.
3) Love. Never before have I been at a church wherein the people were willing to consistently expose their own sin and evil and offer the undeserved kindness and love of Jesus to one another. While we may appear to be “come as you are,” we are not “stay as you are.” We are committed to Jesus and desire over anything else to reveal him to our fellow believers, our neighbors, and even our enemies through attitudes and acts of love. Love is creative and takes understanding of the one you are trying to love. As I tell my friends in my small groups, we do not love someone in order to make him become a believer. We love those God has put into our lives whether or not they ever become believers. We love one another as Christ loved the church. This is the work of God in a believer. This is an undeniable gift of his presence.
Please note that I am not saying that results or outcomes determine the appropriateness of a particular methodology. Nor am I an official voice of Mars Hill Church. I am not even a small group leader. I’m just a regular member who loves his church family and wants to share the wonderful things Jesus is doing in Seattle, despite our stumbles and foibles. We aren’t perfect and likely never will be. However, we do appreciate your prayers as we seek to share Jesus with our city.
Thanks for listening, and all the best as you share Jesus with the people where you live!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Down but Not Out

I haven't been online at all this week, in fact I'm a bit scared to check my google reader account. Nevertheless, I've heard I've been mocked at least once for my reading habits (again) on at least one blog during my online sabbatical. I've been working through a 3 week certification process at work that culminated this week and my Mom has been in town visiting for Noah's b-day. Therefore, whatever time hasn't been spent at HSBC has been spent with my fam squeezing in occaisional sleep only when necessary. Anyway, all that said, I should be back into the swing of things in the blogosphere by the beginning of next week. Some food for thought - I'm wanting to do a post on the whether or not individual conversion is/should be at the heart of the Gospel. I have been thinking on this theme for the last few months as a result of some time spent in the Gospels this past spring and some conversations with James Lane in our Sunday School class at BBC. Some recent days in the first few chapters of Acts has brought me back to this issue and I plan to post some thoughts on it first thing next week.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cokesbury Rocks!

Okay I may be one of the last few stuck in Virginia, but nothing beats Cokesbury's book sales. They're finishing off what's left of their inventory reduction and now it's down to bags. Bags? you ask...yes bags. You buy a bag and take home whatever you can fit in it. Today's accquisitions:

Science and Religion: An Introduction - McGrath
Engaging God's World - Platinga
The Ressurection of Jesus - Wright and Crossan in Dialogue
A Biblical Theology of Exile - Smith-Christopher
The Last Days of Jesus - Bovon
The Romans Debate - Donfried
Justified Before God - Kaiber
He Came Down from Heaven (on Preexistence) - McCready
Jesus and the Father - Giles
Breaking the DaVinci Code - Bock
Truth and Fiction in the DaVinci Code - Ehrman
From Christ to the Word - an ethics reader including everyone from Calvin and Luther to Hauerwas and Yoder.

How much was the bag? a measly $5. They never saw me coming...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Reading Projects

Though my current reading list is no longer reflected in the margin, I hesitate to update it. I have finished Smith's book on Postmodernism and the church and will probably blog briefly about it if a week or two (though in that amount of time most people could probably read it through several times). I'm reticent to post the new volumes I've undertaken because both of them exceed 700 pages. Of course, this means 1) no I probably won't ever finish them, seeing Vanhoozer's work is sadly the longest I've read in the last 8 months or so 2) I'll probably get distracted and start reading something else in the next few hours and 3) Even if I did finish them, It would be several years from now and that's a long wait for a review. So...maybe I'll add them and maybe I'll just read Confessions again (Yes, Driscoll, not Augustine).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Enough is Enough

No play on words to this title; this post is simply a heads up to a number of people who wish to remain anonymous and post comments on my blog. While I'm inclined to call you whiners who lack the intestinal fortitude and integrity to stand behind what you say, I'm more disturbed by the self-righteous sniping that you inflict on others who aren't afraid to speak their mind. Your pharisaical pride will likely contiue to engender self-justification and prevent you from ever responding to my requests to identify yourself so here's the remedy: I've always been reluctant to moderate my comments officially -- it takes too much time for real dialogue to happen. Therefore, AS ALWAYS, I encourage ANYONE to feel free to say ANYTHING in the comments on this blog, but if you don't have the maturity or integrity to ID yourself, it will be deleted as soon as I read it. Wow. I can't believe I had to say that...

In case I used words with too many syllables, let me simplfy by extending my metaphor from above:

If this is how you behave in the comment section:

This is how I will respond to your comment:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

An Apologetics Quiz

Who said this:

"Thus, the highest proof of scripture derives in general form the fact that God in person speaks in it. The prophets and apostles do not boast either of their keenness or of anything that obtains credit for them as they speak; nor do they dwell upon rational proofs. Rather, they bring forward God's holy name, that by it the whole world may be brought into obedience to Him."

"Since for unbelieving men religion seems to stand by opinion alone, they, in order not to believe anything foolish or lightly, both wish and demand rational proof that Moses and the prophets spoke divinely. But I reply: the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent that all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of Himself in His Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit."

"Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught, truly rests upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning."

A) Van Til
B) Edwards
C) William Lane Craig
D) Calvin
E) Platinga

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gathercole on the Atonement

Here I go again, posting an article I haven't finished yet. However, knowing what I know about Gathercole and SBTS, I'm pretty sure I know how this one's gonna end. Check out Simon Gathercole's article on The Cross and Substitutionary Atonement.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Philosophy of Ministry and the Gospel Coalition

While I know every student of the Scriptures and aspiring teacher/preacher/theolgian/exegete/etc ad naseum is supposed to develop their own philosophy of ministry, I've given serious consideration in recent days to jettisoning mine. Why? Because I read the Gospel Coalition's Theological Vision for Minstry. Yeah, I admit anything with the word coalition in it sounds pretty cheesy, but the substance of this document is outstanding. Sure you might nit pick with fine points here and there, but as for me an my house...

If you're interested in hearing some of these points developed a little more thoroughly, I reccomend going to the Resurgence Podcasts and listening to everything and anything Tim Keller. I've been doing that anyway and when I read the Theological Vision for Ministry stuff, I thought "Hmmmm...this sounds awfully (or should I say delightfully) familiar." Keller stuff is all over this document...and that's a good thing. I also added the Gospel Coalition to my links in the side bar with the same disclaimer.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Some thoughts on "Missional"

As usual, I pick up on the trendy things a few years too late; I guess that comes from growing up as a fundy. While the rest of evangelicalism may view this term almost as dated as the term "postmodern" they both are still in my vocabulary.

I admit, it took me awhile to figure out exactly what was meant by "missional" and I'm not sure there is actually a concrete definition out there. But the gist that I've picked up on by it's usage (which of course is all that matters in my book - form vs. function again) is that it pertains to a church/individual who is on mission (duh). By that, it is often implied (and often explicit) that it is being on the mission of Jesus (or more likely the Triune God) and is often connected to the Kingdom. Teasing it out a little further, it's often used as those who are on mission and or missionaries to their culture, wherever they may find themselves. It typically has cultural engagement overtones and is used often in emerging church contexts (though of course the really cool emerging church types have probably abandoned it because it's too trendy these days).

For what it's worth, I like it. Some have argued that the term missional is not very missional itself (i.e. unbelievers don't know what you're talking about). True perhaps, but I think it's still a good term for inhouse discussion. Anyway, I like an adjective that can be used to sum up the idea of being on mission with Jesus that is Kingdom oriented in engaging the culture with the Gospel. It doesn't get much better than that (even if ascribing such a definition to a single word is culpable of being a raging linguistic fallacy capable of eclipsing TDNT).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bourne Again

My kind of Ultimatum - check this one out too (click on the movie trailer under the first hit).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Books I'd Like to Read...Someday

While some may happen sooner than others, and some aren't in print yet, these are some titles I've come across recently that I'd really like to read sooner rather than later. Since the pictures are kinda blurry, they are The New Perspective on Paul by James D.G. Dunn (forthcoming this fall), A Better Hope by Stanley Hauerwas and Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer. No agenda here or anything, I've just been thinking about these titles a bit lately and thought this might help get them off my mind.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More on the Drama: Triangulating my Position

I mentioned previously that I'd try to post some things that I enjoyed/benefited most from Drama of Doctrine; here's my first shot:

Vanhoozer makes the observation on p. 301 regarding Knowledge in the Theodramatic Perspective "Getting knowledge is more like plotting one's position with a set of maps, than it is building a house on a foundation or catching a fish in a net." This metaphor was groundbreaking fore me in the sense of it's contribution to my own self-awareness. I feel like over the last 5-7 years, my theology is constantly being revised, reinvented and/or jettisoned. About the only thing that has held is a reformed understanding of God, the Bible and the Gospel. I've been thinking more in terms of the foundation metaphor and thus felt like I was constantly tearing down and rebuilding the foundation. Or perhaps, more accurately, the foundation is a reformed understanding of these things but I keep having to clear out the first floor and never think I'll get to setting the trusses, let alone sheeting the roof. It felt like there was little continuity.

Enter Vanhoozer's helpful metaphor; now I can see continuity. I've been thinking in terms of constructing and deconstructing the house often leading to a hermeneutic of suspicion (i.e., I assume what I've been taught is wrong). Instead, I have been constantly trying to find my location using a series of maps. Each lesson learned helps to more precisely triangulate my position. Not only was this breakthrough incredibly encouraging, such a perspective gives more hope and less pessimism about the future.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Back in VA Beach

We're home now and back in the daily grind of the routines of life. Nevertheless I thought I'd post some final images about our NH trip. The first two are from our flight up. Though I thought I was taking a break from work, I was reminded, you can't escape the World's Local Bank. HSBC stuff was plastered everywhere at La Guardia - our first layover (that's Noah and me in the silouette).

Not to fear however, La Guardia also provided an in house means of grace for fleeing the corporate ominpresence:

Just Kidding - it was only 8 am after all :-)

Finally, something to make a few conoseurs drool, on the flight back I snapped this shot right down the way from our boarding gate:

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Church Planters Needed

My week in NH has confirmed the fact that some good church planters are needed in the good ole Granite State and surrounding regions. My wife and I visited an "emerging church" Sunday morning and I put the term in quotes because I felt like I was grossly underdressed in jeans and a button down with flip flops and badly in need of a shave when I walked thru the door. Seriously, the first few families we saw would have passed dress code at NBBC. Perhaps they engage the culture, but nobody engaged us, despite the fact we were desperately in need of determining if there was a nursery for the little one. I say all this not to bash them, but out of curiosity if the average visitor would stick around, let alone an unbeliever. Not your typical ec type of atmosphere. Futhermore, the dearth of reformed theology in my home state is staggering. Though the church we visited was connected to a reformed network, the speaker dropped the ball on both election and foreknowledge - two terms that appeared explicitly in the text. I felt like crying--or cussing since it was supposedly an emerging church :-)

Bottom line: Reformed guys willing to engage the culture are needed in the Northeast--badly from what I can see. However, the culture issue may be harder than you might expect. I think with the advent of technology particularly as it lends itself to globalization, the modern culture has made it's inroads into NH. Strange, because it wasn't so back when I was a teen, growing up here. A fundy church whose culture mirrored the 50's could survive and even thrive here. Yet, the young people I've seen cruising around Concord bear great resemblence to those of VA Beach. Likewise, the stores in the Mall have caught up with the rest of the world--heck, we even have a Starbucks! Nevertheless, the older generation is still stuck in it's modern (think worldview category here) ways. New Englanders hate change. AC is still not common in the houses (New Englanders don't need it--much to my chagrin :-). Likewise, though there may be a Starbucks (notice the singular), Dunkin Donuts still controls the masses. Everybody at church was sippin a D and D coffee - no iced grande quadshot etc. to be found. The cultural divide between the older and younger generations seems more exacerbated here in Concord than most places I've seen. Nevertheless, my global exposure is limited and my time here has been short. However, I'm convinced the region needs good reformed missional church planters.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Last Friday night, prior to leaving for NH, I finished Vanhoozer's Drama of Doctrine. Yes, I have silenced the mouths of all ye who slander me...at least until you hit the comments section. Nevertheless, its' been quite a journey. I started back in March and I can honestly say it's been the weightiest book I've read in a loooong time. Forget the prospect of a book review from me; I'm not even going to try. Read it for yourself - it's worth it. I may post some of the most significant lessons learned in coming weeks, but that remains to be seen.

One more thought: I'd like to conduct an informal pole in the comment section. Thought it's presumptious to think there are very many people reading this still, as my blogging has been sporadic at best, google reader gives me hope. Were you more suprised that 1) I got a tattoo or 2) I finished a 400 plus page book by Vanhoozer? I figured I'd post these two dramatic (yes the pun is intended) posts back to back.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Post Tenebras Lux

Well, it's done. I figured I'd post the evidence on this blog since the readership of our family blog is decidedly more conservative. Noah wanted to be just like his Daddy...How could I say no? Incidently the artwork is courtesy of my talented cousin Gina from Mom's Tattoo Studio.

Broadcasting Live From NH

Dawn, Noah and I are in New Hampshire all week visiting family and enjoying a much needed vacation. Since I already took a "vacation" from the blogosphere last week, I thought I'd try and get a few posts up this week. We'll see how successful I am, but I definately have some crazy things to communicate.

Friday, June 15, 2007

More Driscoll Audio

I found these six lectures posted various places on the web, but first on Kevin Cawley's blog (who's background pic alone might make you want to move to Vancouver). I believe they're from the Acts 29 Bootcamp for church planters and Driscoll is addressing the Church, Gospel and Culture. I found them fascinating and insightful for a perspective on a culturally engaging approach to pastoral ministry (happy Baylor? I got around the HT :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Interview with Driscoll

Mike Corley interviews Driscoll regarding the contours of his life and ministry. Though the interviewer sounds like and employs some fundie ideology (listen for the catch phrases) overall Driscoll's responses are gracious and interesting.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

More on Bad Words and Foul Language

This time it is what you think. Much conversation has taken place in the last few years about cussing Christians, particularly in relation to the emerging church conversation. I've neglected posting links in the past, primarily because I was too lazy. However, this time I decided not to pass up the opportunity. Here's a link to some thoughts by Tall Skinny Kiwi (an EC guy himself) on Offensive Language: I Think my Mother Taught Me.

(HT: Jesus Creed)

Barth Blog Conference

Kind of a pre-conference conference (prepping the blogosphere for the upcoming conference at Princeton) you can enjoy what may very well be the first conference hosted in the blogosphere. All that and Karl Barth - interesting stuff! Read it here and add it to your google reader list.

(HT: Faith and Theology)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Serenity Prayer

Now that's a blog post I thought I'd never pen. I came across the full serenity prayer tonight on someone elses blog and I thought I'd post it here for several reasons: 1) I really needed it (albeit for different reasons than it's original context) 2) I never knew who wrote it 3) I never heard more than the first paragraph. I always thought the first paragraph was a bit stoic and fatalistic (not to mention cheesy). Though I've been accused of being both (or all three technically) it was still too much for me, but set in it's full (dare I say canonical) context, it definately takes on new significance (meaning?). Here it is:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Almost sounds a bit Christian Hedonistic...

(HT: iMonk)