Sunday, September 28, 2008


I have been told repeatedly that reading theology is boring and that church members will not ever read theology, we have to focus on programs and entertainment. Well I don't believe that advice and neither did Buddy Gray. He pastors the Hunter Street Baptist Church where they have started Theology Reading Groups (TRG's), and now over 800 people have read Grudem's Systematic Theology, and other theological works. It sounds absolutely intriguing and encouraging. So, I'm encouraging you to go read the article at Baptist Press.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Gold from Piper

Here is another Quote from Piper’s Seeing and Savoring Christ. I have been pleasantly surprised by the depth and quality of this little book, I highly commend it to you as a devotional resource, your eyes will be turned to the beauty Christ on every page and be led in prayers that will challenge you to a closer walk with God. This reading is in the chapter on the suffering of Christ and I found it to be very powerful, enjoy.

Two great purposes were accomplished in the suffering of Christ, which are really one purpose. First, “Christ . . . suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). The suffering of Jesus brought us to God who is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore. Second, in the very hour of death the Father and the Son were glorified. “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (John 13:31). Our joy in savoring God and his glory in saving us are one. That is the glory of Christ’s incomparable sufferings.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nutty Idea's Abound

When you are committed to a worldview that values animal life above human life nutty ideas are going to sound plausible. Take for instance the idea proposed by PETA. They are proposing that Ben & Jerry's stop using cow milk for Ice Cream and begin using human mothers milk.

Now first of all this seems a little creepy to me. But think about the logic here. Milking cows is cruel because it causes them to suffer. Ok if milking causes suffering then why is it a better alternative to milk women and cause them to suffer. PETA confirmed for me again what I am convinced they believe, that animals are superior to people.

We simply cannot as Christians hold to a view like that. We are told in the Bible that we are made in the Image of God (Gen. 1:27). This gives us a uniqueness and a dignity that nothing else in this creation has. We must respect that and act accordingly. Our wives, mothers, and daughters are of infinitely greater value than that of any female cow. We are also told that we are to care for the earth as stewards (Gen. 1:28 to begin with). This means that we are to use the resources of the creation in a way that benefits those made in the Image of God, in a way that honors our God the creator, and that does not needlessly destroy what God has made.

Here is the link if you want to read the article

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brian McLaren on the Gospel

Brian McLaren was asked the question, What is the Gospel? Here is his response...

“I think this is where it gets interesting because one of the ways that what we do becomes colonization, when we’re going to represent a religion and trying to make converts to a religion… but the good news isn’t the good news of Christianity, it’s the good news of the Kingdom of God. And I think that Fatmire [Muslim peace activist also present at conference and sitting next to him on the panel] working for peace, is an agent for peace, and I’d much rather her be working for peace being who she is than… becoming a person in a church worrying about the list over there on that wall. [on “the list” are things non-essentials like speaking in tongues, etc.)

So, to me there’s something we really have to grapple with about whether the border of a religion is the border of the kingdom of God. And I think that’s a question we’d be wise to raise. I liked what you said about there not being despair when you’re among the extremely needy people. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we found out that God is present wherever there’s suffering because God is there bringing healing and God is really present wherever people are working against injustice because that’s the work of God, wherever people are working for peace. And then the we find that the place that God isn’t is where you have a bunch of affluent people who are self-absorbed… and that wouldn’t surprise me why they would get depressed, because, in some way, it’s not that God isn’t present but they’re snoring through the presence of God.”

First off how do you respond to the question What is the Gospel by jumping immediately to colonization, that betrays a great deal about where he's at.

Second, how can the Good News not be the Good News of Christianity. When Jesus was asked the question how can one know the way He responded in this way.

John 14:6-7 - Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [7] If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

When Jesus was giving His disciples their last command before His ascension, He did not command that we all become peace activists, He commanded that we, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt 28:19-20)

I am not denying that we have a calling to help the poor, but our primary calling is to share the Good News of Jesus substitutionary death, His death that brings us forgiveness, and reconciliation with the Father. How can any news compare with this, how can any calling compare with the privilege of sharing the news that will spare people eternal torment and grant them eternal life in the presence of God.

McLaren appears to be fleeing the shame of conversionist Christianity, let us embrace the conversionist Christianity of our Savior, and lets close with His words.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

The Excellence of Christ

I have been reading Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper and I have been really been impacted by the book. Over the coming days I will share with you some of the great quotes from this fantastic book. I want to begin with a passage describing the excellence of Christ as seen in His mixture of excellencies.

For example, we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word, but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Last Sunday at the church I am attending, I saw a clip from the new movie coming out in theatres called "Fireproof." This movie is produced by the same group that brought us "Facing the Giants" a few years back and its lead character is played by "Growing Pains" child star Kirk Cameron. In an interview with the Today show, he told how even though the movie script called for him kissing the actress who played his on-screen wife, producers had to use some "Hollywood magi" because of a commitment to only kiss his real-life wife of 17 years. He states:
“The reason this movie was important to me personally is because I love my wife dearly,” he said. “We’ve been married for 17 years … and we have six children. So marriage is a very special and sacred thing to us. In a day and age where marriage is falling apart, we want to make movies and projects that really uphold and have a high view of that which is beautiful and wonderful in our culture.”

This is a radical statement in our day, and I thank God for a man like Kirk Cameron who will stand on his convictions in the public eye. This is a picture of the Gospel to every husband as we should too seek to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Here is the link to the full article and the video interview, both of which I encourage you to check out. I am also excited to see "Fireproof" with my wife, and I pray husbands reading this will do the same.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Reflections on Humility by C. J. Mahaney

I just finished reading Humility and it one of the rare books that I am sad to finish. It was a deeply challenging book that I wish every Christian would read and I am certain that every Christian would benefit from.

Mahaney defines Humility as “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” I found that definition to be powerful. It was a humbling experience to be forced to realize that because of my sinfulness I deserve death and hell, that is what I deserve yet God has chosen to show me grace and mercy through the Cross of His Son. So when I look at all the good in my life I am forced to confess that I can take credit for none of it. It is all simply an opportunity to praise the goodness of my great God.

Two of Mahaney’s strengths shine in this book; he is always a gracious and is open about his own struggles. The book is not written as a learned treatise from a man who portrays himself as a paradigm of humility, rather as a shared education from a proud man pursuing humility urging us to join him in that pursuit.

Mahaney is also intensely practical. Throughout the book there is guidance on how to cultivate the attitude of humility. I found especially helpful his guidance on how to start the day and I am already benefiting from it. He advises that we should begin each day acknowledging our dependence on God and expressing gratefulness to Him. There is a great deal of practical guidance of this nature throughout the book. But starting the day in this fashion has changed the nature of how I face the obstacles of the day, how I approach the appointments and duties of each day, they are no longer seen as opportunities to work or to accomplish things or even simply to do what must be done; but rather as opportunities to rest in God’s strength and to see Him at work.

I commend this book to you and all the work of C. J. Mahaney. May God Bless him and preserve him so that he can continue to be a conduit of blessing to the church.

Able to Rebuke

The battle for the Bible is not over, friends. I was reminded of this in a painful way this morning. At a Baptist pastors' gathering this morning, the keynote speaker called Paul's words "opinion" because they were spoken by Paul, "not the Lord." He went on to make other remarks that confirmed his low view of Scripture. A mild reproof in love was offered when he finished.

We young evangelicals like to believe that our fathers' fight is not ours. Let's remember that the battle for the integrity of God's word began in Eden ("Did God really say . . .?"). The people of God have been tempted by the worldly-wise and numerous other seductions to disregard the word of God in faith and practice in every generation.

This occasion was a stirring reminder to me of Paul's words to Titus that an elder must "hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it."

Monday, September 15, 2008


Today I was out in my car and caught the tail end of the Albert Mohler program on my radio. He was discussing a shocking announcement made this past week by a well-known Christian singer that he was in fact gay. The problem was I tuned in too late to hear Mohler state exactly who was being discussed. I now know that he was talking about one of the most famous Christian singers of the 80s and 90s, Ray Boltz. I have Boltz 2 volume greatest hits downstairs in my basement. I remember numerous Fourth of July celebrations using his song "I pledge Allegiance to the Lamb." I still tear up listening to the song "Watch the Lamb," as I contemplate my Savior going to His death for my sins. Needless to say, this news is shocking to me.

I am broken by this as a fan of his music. He believes Himself to be a "gay Christian." This is the way God made Him. He states at the end of an interview with a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) magazine that “This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself."

Here is what we need to take away from this: 1. It is possible to point others to the redeeming work of Christ on the Cross that removes our sins and calls us to trust and repentance, yet never truly be changed personally. I have seen Ray Boltz's concerts lead many to understand the gospel, yet he himself has apparently missed the point the whole time. The gospel is not about accepting ourselves the way we are as he seems to believe; it is about Christ dying for us as we are to mold us and make us like He is. The gospel is about Jesus loving us enough to NOT leave us as we are, but change us into His glorious likeness. 2. We should not throw stones, but instead pray for him and his family. I am concerned about a person who lives in a homosexual lifestyle and sees no problem with it in view of Scripture. But I am concerned about his soul more than anything else. He is implicitely stating that he sees no sin in the homosexual lifestyle, thus believing God now loves him because he has accepted the "truth" about himself. Yet the Bible reveals the real truth about ourselves as sinners in need of redemption from our sins, not acceptance of them. Satan is the deciever and Scripture reminds us that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God," (2 Cor. 4:4). Could it be that what he "feels" as God's acceptance is really the sinister work of the Serpent who decieved our first parents in the Garden?

I am going to bed tonight praying for Ray Boltz. If you would like to read the full article (WARNING: website may be graphic and offensive to readers), here is the link:

I also encourage you to check our and listen to the Monday broadcast.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reflection on “When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem"

Richard Mouw is an author and theologian that I have found to be both insightful and frustrating. I can sometimes read him and discover new truths about Scripture that delight my heart; then other times I stand at a distance unable to follow his lead. In a word, he is the kind of author I love to read because he is never boring and will always force me to reconsider every preconceived notion I have developed. “When the Kings Come Marching In” is case and point. The book is not a commentary on Isaiah’s vision of the New Jerusalem (though it certainly could function in that respect) as much as it is a treatise developing the proper understanding of cultural involvement in this life for Christians. He asks the question that will guide the thrust of the entire book: “How ought Christians to (sic) understand the proper patterns of their cultural involvement,” (p. 3). By cultural involvement he means the broad sweep of cultural life including but not limited to economical, political, artistic, educational, etc. And he believes that the Bible has a multifaceted view on culture that cannot be restricted to only one particular attitude. Thus he uses the vision of Isaiah 60 to show how God would have believers live now in light of what is to come.

I found this book incredibly helpful in many respects. For one, it provided me a reminder of the biblically correct view we must hold of our heavenly destination. Too many Christians today wrongly believe in a bodiless heaven that looks more like Greek philosophy than Scripture. It is true that at death the soul is separated from the body, but that is an unnatural effect of sin that God never intended and will one day redeem through the finished work of Christ. Mouw rightly reminds us that “Christians’ bodiless presence with the Lord is not the final state of blessedness. Our ultimate goal is to be raised up for new life in which we will realize our true destinies as followers of Jesus Christ,” (p. 19). But even with that in mind, Isaiah’s view of heaven is not limited to “me and my state of being,” but he is interested in the future of corporate structures and cultural patterns. Mouw points us to the presence of the ships of Tarshish and the goods and commodities from across the globe being brought into the heavenly city in worship to God. The question we must ask is how can God allow instruments of pagan nations and sinful uses be brought into God’s new city for His glory? Mouw answers, “God’s present attitude, then, toward these instruments of culture is an ambivalent one. As tools of human rebellion and objects of idolatrous trust, he hates them, and he warns his people not to be contaminated by them. But he hates them because of their present uses. And his hatred will lead him to transform them into proper instruments of service,” (p. 32).

A second blessing I received from this book is the full picture Mouw provides of the role of Christians now in culture and society in light of our role to come in eternity. He believes that believers need a complex perspective on culture and society, especially government, because of the complexities of a world created by God, fallen from God, and being rescued by God’s redeeming work in Christ. He clarifies: “What we must show present-day political authority is honor, because we recognize that it is called to perform an important ministry. But as those who know the radicality of the sin that presently affects both individuals and structures, we can only properly ‘honor’ political authority today by constantly calling it to perform the kind of ministry that God requires of all those who administer human affairs,” (p. 68).

The final point that I will mention regarding this book’s helpfulness to my soul is how it consistently and accurately pointed me to the centrality of Christ in all of Scripture and culture. In fact, I walked away from this book with a broader view of Christ’s redeeming work. He critiques a problem he sees in many Christian circles today, which is as he states it giving “full reign to the blood of Christ within a limited area,” (p. 111). This limitation is done by seeing Christ’s transforming power only within the scope of human lives. Mouw observes that Christ’s redemptive work applies to a broader reach of the cultural and societal patterns of the world. In a longer quote, he defines this in a most helpful way: “In an important sense, then, the ‘world,’ the cosmos, which Jesus came to save was bigger than the world he originally created. Not only did this world contain many more people than had populated the original Garden, but it was filled with the languages, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organizations, inherited artifacts, technical processes, and values to which (Richard) Niebuhr refers. And then items were touched by human rebellion. They comprise sinful culture. But they do belong t the fullness of the cosmos for which Christ died; ‘for God sent the Son into the cosmos, not to condemn the cosmos, but that the cosmos might be saved through him’ (John 3:17),” (p. 113).

I do not agree with everything Mouw states in this book, but I am walking away from it with many more questions and challenges to my views of Christ and culture. And I have already adjusted some of those views thanks to Mouw, particularly in that while believers should not be centrally focused on changing culture, we should be looking to the redeeming of culture that God will bring. This is a hope that allows us to seek small glimpses of that transformation today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reading Habits for Growth

I feel that the reading of books is personally a powerful aspect of my commitment to spiritual growth (not to replace or compete with the primary Spiritual Disciplines of Bible-reading and Prayer). However, like everything else in the Christian life we must be intentional about what we are doing. Growth in Christ never happens by accident. Sometimes it looks really confusing, but the seeds were sown and harvested, now I am not denying the work of the Holy Spirit in our growth. Nor am I denying the sovereignty of God in our spiritual lives, rather as a wise man once said, "we should trust God and keep our powder dry." Trust in the sovereignty of God should empower us and encourage us to strive to grow spiritually.

I think that this means that we should have a reading plan. I have combined the advice of John Stott and Albert Mohler personally and at the end of the post I will share my personal reading plan, not to exalt myself but simply to give an example of an intentional reading plan. John Stott says that every pastor should read for an hour every day, thus underscoring the importance of reading. Albert Mohler says that the pastor (I also think that this advice is helpful for all Christians) should read broadly and consistently in different categories.

I think we need to be careful to read toward our needs. For example, I read three books at a time, I have discerned three needs that I need to be addressing perpetually. I think that we need to have our minds informed and challenged. So I try to always be reading what I call a brain book. I also need to have my heart inflamed toward Christ. I call this my heart book, I try to identify authors and theme's that feed my soul (Christian biographies have proved especially powerful), we all need this in a continual manner. My last book is a book to keep my imagination alive, I am always reading a book of fiction or history to keep the old imagination alive and well. This is very important for a pastor, to stave off dryness or an overly academic air sneaking into the pulpit. I think that we also need to read toward our unique ministry calling. So if you are a pastor, read a book about being a pastor, the same for youth ministry or prayer ministry.

To get a little narrower, we need to read in different categories for our minds. As a pastor I have identified several categories that I must be reading in at all times, it functions as a rotation for my brain book. My categories are Theology, Biblical Studies, Church History, Practical ministry, Philosophy/apologetics, and the puritans.

Now in conclusion I want to explain why I shared so much of my personal reading habits. It's not because I think that mine are exemplary, far from the truth. I am really convicted about the need to be intentional in our reading habits, which is why I wrote this weird post in the first place, but it is also the reason that I shared so much simply to give an example of an effort to be intentional. The second reason is that I want you all to share your reading plan and give me some counsel on how I can improve.

Along these lines give a listen to the Mahaney, Harris, and Purswell.

Friday, September 12, 2008


The book of Revelation is therefore an incredibly important book because it is a book about Jesus, no less than the four Gospels, and the primary book that reveals to us the picture of Jesus in heaven today as opposed to on the earth yesterday. Sadly, the book of Revelation has become the fishing pond for Christian wingnuts with an affinity for goofy charts to string together endless debates about what the mark of the beast is, who the antichrist is, and whether or not locusts are really code word for Blackhawk helicopters. Such people need both new hobbies and the right meds. Revelation is a book about Jesus and emphatically declares that in the opening line of the book, which describes the entire book as "the revelation of Jesus Christ."

- Mark Driscoll, Vintage Jesus, p. 150

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Review of Atheism Remix by Albert Mohler

I want to begin by saying that I am biased. I am a student of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of which Dr. Mohler is president. I am also a regular listener to his radio show. Basically I’m a fan. Now in regards to the content of the book; I am a Theist, a Christian, an Evangelical, and a Baptist. Now with all (maybe not) of my biases on the table, let me say this is a good book. In a very succinct way Dr. Mohler addresses and exposes the errors of the New Atheists. A worthwhile read.

The New Atheists that Dr. Mohler highlights are what he calls the four horsemen of the atheist apocalypse. They are in no particular order Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. He selects these four due to popularity and book sales. These are the first atheists to really strike a chord in popular culture instead of simply remaining in a passionate minority, the book sales show that something new is happening.

These four are serving as something new, they are evangelists for atheism. Not content to sit in ivory towers among other elites they are taking their message of non-belief on the road. They are bold, they are consciously rejecting faith in any God but the Christian God in particular, and they believe that theism of any kind is a cultural evil (to different extents) and that it should and will be eradicated. They also believe that it is time to abandon religious liberty (once again to different extents) since faith in God is so dangerous and they go so far as to question the right of parents to teach faith in God to their children.

Dr. Mohler evaluates the critiques of both Alistair McGrath and Alvin Plantinga. He finds both extremely helpful but underwhelming because both share the New Atheists acceptance of evolutionary theory. So in conclusion he contends that we must not advocate of defend the idea of God, but rather the personal God who has revealed Himself in the Bible.

Mohler is careful to point out that most of the people that we will share the Gospel with are not going to identify with the New Atheists, but they may be aware of their arguments and be influenced by them. However the New Atheists have picked the right battle. It is only the personal, supernatural God of the Bible that matters, and that is worth all the fuss.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lordship of Christ

"There is not an of any sphere of life over which Jesus Christ does not say, Mine."
- Abraham Kuyper

Sunday, September 7, 2008


For the last month, I have enjoyed the opportunity to sit and hear preaching instead of being the preacher. As I am waiting for God’s direction into a new pulpit, I am striving to discover and demonstrate the marks of a healthy church member (or attendee as is the case currently). I think bare minimum that includes serving in the church and supporting the pastor, though we could discuss many elements. But in this season of sitting under another man’s pulpit ministry, I have asked myself the question, “what should be happening to me as I come and hear the Word of God proclaimed?” Too often I have been guilty of coming to worship, taking my seat, singing the song, listening to the message and then going home. But should I not go into the house of God with an expectation to leave differently? Should not every Sunday be an exercise of sanctification for my soul? In asking these questions I have come to understand that there should be at least three results evident after I have sat under the Word of God

1. The mind should be INFORMED. Regardless of what church you go to, true preaching is a monologue. It is a proclamation of truth that demands a response, but that response is demanded AFTER the facts have been declared. Too many believers today hold low standards of expectations for the preaching of God’s Word. “Just give us that good ol’ gospel preaching.” Now I love the gospel, but knowing the gospel and loving the gospel is a lifelong endeavor. Paul always preached the gospel, yet gave practical insights into the daily lives of believers. We should expect to come to church and learn new truths or discover old truth in new light. Now this means that if I walk away from the preaching without my mind informed, one of two problems has occurred. It could be that the preacher has not effectively done his job. God’s Word must stretch him before it stretches me. Too often pastors fall to the extreme of preaching a commentary they have read the week prior. I fear that too many preachers spend more time studying their commentaries than the text of Scripture. Or the opposite extreme is that they treat the message as an emotional pep talk or entertainment platform. In this case performance and relevance overshadow the text of Scripture. But let me be honest at this point. I have sat under preachers who may be less than par according to my preferences, but are faithful men who love Jesus and study the Word to be approved workmen. More often than not the reason my mind is not informed is because I am not engaged in the Word. Satan is not just a deceiver and a destroyer, he is a distracter. So many times the worship experience itself is spiritual warfare and I must fight the good fight. Every true gospel message, even by the poorest of preachers, will provide some nugget of truth that I can store up in my mind and walk away amazed at the glory of Jesus.

2. The heart should be REFORMED. The Bible has a great deal to say about my heart, and for the most part it declared how corrupt and wicked it is apart from Jesus. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” That is a fearful thought when I look at what lies within my heart. I think Proverbs 4:23 captures it clearly in saying, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” So when I come to worship something should happen in my heart. My mind can be informed, but if my heart stays the same then I have not truly been impacted by the Word of God. Every time we come to the text of Scripture, whether publicly or privately, the goal should be to leave differently than when we came. Reform is a change; it is taking a shape that already exists and making it better. So in this case, it is taking my sinful, corrupt heart and reshaping it to be more like the heart of Jesus. My prayer every Sunday should beg Jesus to change my heart to be like His. I believe that many who read this post are pretty good at the informing part of preaching, but here is where we truly need God to give us grace.

3. The life should be TRANSFORMED. While this result may only result after the first two are accomplished, this is the only one that has visible evidence. Only God will see the first two; here is where we can worship by edifying other believers in Christ. If the Word of God consistently affects my life and how I go through each day, that will be seen by others and will build them up by saying, “if God can do this in me He can and will do it in you too.” If you and I were to leave worship this Sunday, go home and meditate on the text for the morning, praying that God would give us grace to become more like Jesus, and then go to work or school living out that reality, what would be the result among our peers? My prayer tonight is that God will take the Word I hear on Sunday and allow me to live it on Monday. How about you?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Prayerlessness worse than adultery

I've been reading John Owen's treatise on the mortification of sin. Owen is incredibly comprehensive and Christ-centered. At one point he pondered why God does not immediately remove some besetting sin as soon as we implore Him. He answered with the following points.

First, our struggle with some particular sin is usually caused by a general failure to "watch" our relationship with God. A man's struggle with sexual lust may not be caused by television, movies or a scantily clad co-worker, but by a general neglect of prayer and the regular hearing of the word of God.

Second, the propensity to neglect our relationship with God should be more grievous to us than the frustration of any particular lust.

Third, quite to the contrary, we are often unaffected by the neglect of our relationship to God, while we come under terrible conviction for succumbing to particular lusts.

Finally, Owen suggested that for this reason God does not remove the besetting sin from us. Instead, he uses the conviction of this particular sin to awaken us to our poor general condition. This sin actually becomes the occasion for a renewal (even if brief) of our pursuit of that relationship, as we come to God, confessing our sin and weakness, praising His mercy and grace, and clinging to the Crucified as our only hope.

Indeed, God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose. Once again I am reminded that I am a studied sinner and Christ is a steadfast Savior.

Reflections on Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament

I want to begin by thanking John for telling me I had to get this book and read it. Once again John was right. This is certainly one the most insightful and biblical books that I have ever read. As I was reading, it felt as if a curtain had been pulled back and I was now seeing the Old Testament (OT) in a clearer way than ever before. So thank you John and I am now genuinely sorry that it took me so long to get to it.

I don't really want to attempt a book review, the scope of this book makes it hard to review here but I want to share some reflections from the reading of this book, and hopefully encourage you read it as well.

1) I am often wrong and don't know everything. To those who know me this would seem to go without saying. How could I ever come under the delusion that I know everything or that I have achieved some deep wisdom. Christopher Wright showed me this because every time that my presuppositions clashed with his explanations I was forced to admit by the end of contest that he was right and I was wrong. I need to be reminded that I haven't arrived, that I am not quite as brilliant as I might daydream that I am. Thank you Christopher Wright for bringing a humbling measure into this book.

2) My understanding of the OT as demanding a primarily external obedience was wrong. Dr. Wright proved conclusively that the OT demanded both external obedience and internal obedience. Love and commitment were essential under the Old Covenant. He focuses on Deuteronomy 4-11, where Moses is preaching to the people, challenging them to follow and obey God whole-heartedly not just outwardly.

3) My understanding of prophecy was sharpened by Christopher Wright. He has a brilliant section where he compares and contrasts promise and prediction (this is all in chapter 2). He shows how prophecy is based on relationship and demands a response whereas prediction is not relational, it is simply an announcement of an event. A promise demands action from the promiser, not just announcement.

Wright also showed the ongoing cycle in the OT of promise, fulfillment, and fresh promise. Jesus fulfills all the promises of the OT by being all that the promises pointed to. He is the last stop on this cycle. This does not deny the reality of meaning in OT context promises meant something to the people they were directly given to. It was not like some code book that was gobbledygook to them. It had meaning for them, but Jesus as the final stop on the cycle of promise, fulfillment, and fresh promise, was the ultimate answer to all the promises of God. Jesus is all that those promises were pointing to.

4) The last thing that I want to mention is the mission of Israel, that we in our sad ignorance of the OT so often overlook. We think that the Great Commission was a new thing that God was doing. This is insane for us to think. We know better, look with me at Genesis 12:1-3

Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

God is blessing Abraham and Israel for the purpose of blessing all the nations. This is a theme that as Wright so powerfully shows runs through the OT. We are part of that blessing, I as a gentile benefited from the fulfillment of this promise to Abraham fulfilled in Christ, through His atoning work I now am blessed of God. But the only difference that I can discern is a subtle shift in the NT. In the NT we are commanded to go to the nations, whereas in the OT the nations are describes as coming to Israel.

My only complaint was that he left some avenues untraveled. I would have liked an appendix of his view of the OT was a shadow of Christ (see Hebrews 8:5 and 10:1 for example). His brief section on Typology did not satisfactorily answer this question. A small complaint, I know.

Thank you Dr.Wright, your book is a gift and I have become an unabashed fan. I will be adding Wright's books to my reading diet as long as their are Wright books and as long as he doesn't lose his mind or fall off the deep end.

Praying to the Real God

Prayer, if it is in any sense to be "meaningful", must be an encounter with the "real" God. The real God can be frightening. If you have never stood before God and been terribly afraid, then you have never stood before God. He isn't safe, He isn't always nice, He isn't accommodating, and He isn't in the business of making us feel comfortable with our rebellion.

Steve Brown, Approaching God: How to Pray, 21.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


In my last post I briefly discussed the issue of communion (i.e. The Lord's Supper), and in what contexts it should be offered and recieved. This has led to a bit of dialogue among the bloggers here at B&B, and I am hoping we flesh out this subject further. I want to direct your attention to a short but helpful discussion on this issue (in a a broader context though) found at the wonderful blog, Standing on Shoulders. Take a look at this, and then give us your views! (NOTE: For some reason I cannot get this link to work so that you can click on it and go directly there. I am computer illiterate. So copy paste the link to your address bar and I will try to fix this in the future).

Keller on Setting Priorities

This short video is directed at Pastor's but it is well worth the listen of all Christians, especially as we try to live lives that are correctly prioritized so that we can best honor and enjoy God.

Monday, September 1, 2008


If you read the first post of reflections from my trip this weekend, here are the rest of the lessons I gleaned:

5.Man was not meant to fly! OK this is has no theological or practical significance, but I hate to fly on planes and felt it necessary to emphasize that there is a reason we do not have wings. The Seraphim of Isaiah 6 I imagine are a glorious sight to behold before the throne of God, but me in a flying Tylenol at three thousand feet is not!

6.Family is a gift from God. This weekend afforded me the opportunity to spend extended time with my wife’s side of the family. This was a unique opportunity because usually they only interact with me around Emily, thus discomfort was a real possibility for us all. Yet the entire trip provided sweet fellowship and fruitful conversations. They have accepted me as part of the family from day one and demonstrated genuine hospitality with such love. For that I praise God.

7.Jesus is a Notre Dame fan, and Moses must be an alumni. Saturday morning allowed an opportunity for a guided tour of the campus of the University of Notre Dame. I have been to many college campuses, but Notre Dame is truly in a league of their own. But one of the striking things about the campus is that on one of main buildings facing the football stadium is a mural of Jesus with His arms extended as in a receiving gesture. But in front of a football stadium I swear he looks like he is holding up his arms as motioning “touchdown!” So the fans have affectionately labeled that painting “touchdown Jesus,” and quite honestly that may be why they are such a dominant football program! Also on campus is a stone statue of Moses with his finger pointing toward heaven; however most fans believe he is saying “We’re number one!”

8.There is much to learn from our “high church” brothers and sisters in Christ. The wedding I attended was in an Episcopal church, and it was my first exposure to that protestant tradition. A few aspects took me aback (such as the icons of Jesus and Priests wearing bathrobes), but for the most part I learned a great deal. The architecture is breathtaking in displaying the majesty of God and glory of His presence. Stepping into the building reminded me I am in the presence of the King of Kings. I was also struck by the reverence given to the Word of God. I asked one of the clergy if there were any traditions I needed to be aware of to observe, and he mentioned bowing at the front of the alter before a cross. Doing that reminded me as I walked to recite Scripture that I am coming on the basis of what Jesus did for me on that Cross. And after I read the text, I was to say “The Word of the Lord,” and the congregation responded, “Thanks be to God.” When this is done not out of ritual but out of genuine love and reverence, it is a tradition my Baptist roots would benefit from immensely.

9.Marriage should always remind us of the mysterious, profound and glorious union we have been called into with Christ. I am so grateful for my cousin Kevin and his new bride Sara because they preached the Gospel to my heart by their union. Ephesians 5 played in my head as they committed their lives to one another. Paul told us that marriage is an illustration of Christ and the church, and not the other way around. I pray I never see two people joined together in marriage without seeing behind the curtain the greater reality that union is pointing to, namely that I have been united to my bridegroom by grace through faith in His blood atonement.

10.Receiving Communion must not be entered into lightly with little thought. I faced a difficult dilemma in that communion was offered to all at the wedding as an act of worship. I love coming to the Lord’s Table, as it celebrates His work on my behalf. Yet I wrestled with whether not I should participate. On one hand it was a time of worship and afforded the opportunity to glorify Christ and enjoy fellowship with a community of believers outside my denomination. But on the other hand, I have serious doctrinal differences with the church in which I was a guest. I believe that the church is “disorderly,” by which I mean that the ordering of the body in both government and practice does not match what the New Testament teaches about the local church. Issues such as what do the bread and wine represent, baptizing infants, the priestly role of clergy, and others are serious issues that hinder me from ever becoming a member of that community. So I decided because of my conscious to refrain and respectfully and prayerfully observe the act of worship. I think this topic may open a good discussion on the blog: what would you have done in my shoes, and is it appropriate to receive communion when serious doctrinal differences are present among a believer and the local church. Let’s hear your thoughts!