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.