Archive by Author

Flotsam and jetsam (8/27)

Good Reads

  • Politics and the Kingdom of God: Because of the cultural disconnect between our ideas about church and state and those of Scripture, approaches that try to strip-mine the Bible for principles for contemporary government and politics will go nowhere.
  • The Top Three Myths about Myths: We all love to see supposed myths debunked, but these opinion articles and blog posts are not as straightforward as they seem. It’s important that readers know how to interpret them.
  • I’m Tired of Hearing “The Gospel” (Warning: Mild Rant): It’s ubiquitous.  And it’s becoming an inflexible law.  We dare not face any issue without the requisite hat tip to “the gospel.”  If we do, there’s bound to be someone to write us a ticket for our verbal violation, to insist we missed a “gospel” opportunity.
  • Confused by Complementarianism? You probably should be: Given that the issue of complementarianism is raising its head over at The Gospel Coalition, it provides an opportunity to reflect on an issue that has always perplexed me: why is the complementarian/egalitarian debate such a significant bone of contention in parachurch cobelligerent organisations whose stated purpose is to set aside issues which divide at a church level but which do not seem to impact directly upon the gospel?

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A Prayer for Sunday (John Owen)

John Owen, famous English Puritan pastor, preacher, and theologian, died on August 24, 1683. Rising to fame during the English Civil War, Owen was a prominent noncomformist (i.e. a non-Anglican English minister).

Best known for his theological writings, Owen also wrote quite often on the Christian spiritual life and the nature of prayer. So, to commemorate his passing, this morning’s “prayer” comes from him, though it’s actually a comment on prayer rather than an actual prayer.

“The faithful soul, pouring out without ceasing those prayers which are supplied to us by God’s Spirit in gracious provision for our infirmities, enjoys communion with God Himself as he shares in the understandings of the things of the gospel. By practice in prayer, he increases daily in fellowship with his Lord while his soul within him testifies to the extent of its progress, while assurance of saving knowledge waxes stronger daily. Such a soul – such a gospel student – is gradually admitted in the secrets of God’s covenant, plighted to the saints in Christ Jesus, while all the time it is growing more and more into the image of Him who is our Head and is Lord of all.”

Biblical Theology: The History of Theology from Adam to Christ (Soli Deo Gloria, 2012), p. 702

Saturday Morning Fun…Every Major Is Terrible

If you’re in college right now and are wrestling with whether you picked the right major, or if you’ve already graduated and are consumed by doubt about whether your major was the right one for you, don’t worry about it. According to this song, they’re all terrible anyway.

Even theology get a jab. Apparently theology is for those who can’t predict the future and aren’t terribly good at reading the past either.

This video is actually a musical tribute to a fabulous comic poem posted by XKCD called “Every Major’s Terrible.” So check the comic out if the words in the song go by too fast for you.

All of the Above: Another Approach to the Image of God

Do you know how to separate good test-takers from bad ones? The bad ones think “all of the above” is their friend, giving them an out when they don’t know the right answer. Good test-takers know better. ”All of the above” is usually a trap.

You see, evil professors know that multiple choice questions can actually be very difficult to answer. Worded properly, the answers all sound pretty good. So the ill-prepared student has a hard time figuring out which one is correct And then the professor slips in “all of the above.” If all the answers sound good, that must be the right choice. It covers all the bases! When in doubt, cover as much territory as possible.


test, multiple choice, answers,

The problem with “all of the above” is that there only needs to be one little mistake in any of the options for your choice to be wrong. A and C could be perfectly true, but if B is a little off, then “all of the above” is flat out wrong. It’s just there to suck you in with it’s seductive promise of all-encompassing thoroughness.

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/22)

Good Reads

  • Ten Things about Church You Should Know (But No One Had the Guts to Tell You): There is no sin in making little mistakes of spelling or grammar. We all make them. But in case you wanted to know (you probably don’t), or in case you wanted to mention it gently to someone else (more likely), here are ten tiny things to keep in mind as you lead in worship, prepare the bulletin, or just converse about the church service.

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J. I. Packer’s Advice to Aspiring Writers

Desiring God has been posting some video interviews with J. I. Packer. As usual, he offers plenty of great insight. And I thought this video was particularly good for those of us interested in writing.

The video is less than ten minutes long, so it’s worth watching all the way through. But here are Packer’s three main pieces of advice:

1. Go deep in your grasp of God, and his will, and his ways, and the spirit of worship. Because you must constantly be expressing those things in every bit of writing that you do.

2. Understand, as preachers also have to understand, that it’s as important that you communicate with people as it is that you set before them truth and wisdom from the word of God.

3. Don’t attempt to be a writer unless you have got things to say which you feel must be put on paper and I am being called to do it. Writing, in other words, is as vocational an exercise as becoming a preacher.

And one quote in particular jumped out at me:

There are writers who think that simply by crisp, orthodox formulations of Bible truth and wisdom, without any searching application to the reader, they are fulfilling the full role of a Christian writer and that nothing more is required of them. That I do not believe to be so. There are enough people around already who can verbalize orthodoxy on paper. What we haven’t got is writers who can blend, or join, truth and wisdom about God from the Scriptures with personal communication, that is, communication that hits the heart, that makes you realize that this writer is a person talking to other persons, that this writer is trying to search me in order to help me, and I must let him do it. There is a certain art, or shall I say a certain craft, or perhaps I should use both words, there is a certain art and craft in writing in such a way that it gets to the reader’s heart. I think sometimes God has enabled me to do that in things that I have written. It isn’t accident, I means it’s something that I’ve been trying to do, and shall go on trying to do. So I would say to my budding writer, now this is a craft you must learn.

Here’s the video. Enjoy.

Flotsam and jetsam (8/20)

Good Reads

  • 30 Suggestions for Theological Students and Young Theologians: Remember that the fundamental work of theology is to understand the Bible, God’s Word, and apply it to the needs of people. Everything else—historical and linguistic expertise, exegetical acuteness and subtlety, knowledge of contemporary culture, and philosophical sophistication—must be subordinated to that fundamental goal. If it is not, you may be acclaimed as a historian, linguist, philosopher, or critic of culture, but you will not be a theologian.
  • The Anti-Ecclesial Rhetoric of Emerging Church Movements: One of the things I have grown weary of in the last decade or so, is anti-ecclesial rhetoric. What I mean by this is the pitting of the ‘church’ over against Jesus, or ‘the established church’ over against more ‘organic’ models of Christianity (e.g. house churches, and the like).
  • Foreshadowing: Why Literature Helps Us Understand the Scriptures: Foreshadowing is the way that writers hint about upcoming events or twists in a story.  For the careful reader, foreshadowing creates a particularly effective form of engagement, ultimately moving into the territory of dramatic irony, where the reader knows more than the characters in the story.
  • Americans Increasingly Super-Sizing Their Churches: The researchers also found a new trend of people reporting that they regularly attend not only a megachurch, but another church as well. It’s not yet clear why people double up on their churches, but it’s likely that they’re getting something different from each church

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A Prayer for Sunday (Blaise Pascal)

Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician, philosopher, and theologian, died on this date in 1662. Probably best known for Pascal’s Wager regarding the existence of God, Pascal also left writings on quite a wide range of subjects. So, in his honor, this morning’s prayer comes from his pen.

O God, before whom I must render an exact account of all my actions at the end of my life and at the end of the world!

O God, who lettest the world and all the things of the world subsist but to train thy elect or to punish sinners!

O God, who allowest sinners hardened in the pleasurable and criminal use of the world!

O God, who makest our bodies to die, and who at the hour of death separatest our soul from all that it loved in the world!

O God, who wilt snatch me, at this last moment of my life, from all the things to which I am attached and on which I have set my heart!

O God, who wilt consume at the last day the heavens and the earth with all the creatures they contain, to show to all mankind that nothing subsists save thee, and that thus nothing is worthy of love save thee, since nothing is durable save thee!

O God, who wilt destroy all these vain idols and all these fatal objects of our passions! I praise thee, my God, and I will bless thee all the days of my life, that it has pleased thee to anticipate in my favor this terrible day, by destroying all things in respect to me through the weakness to which thou hast reduced me. I praise thee, my God, and I will bless thee all the days of my life, that it has pleased thee to reduce me to the incapacity of enjoying the sweets of health and the pleasures of the world, and that thou hast destroyed in some sort, for my advantage, the deceitful idols that thou wilt destroy effectively, for the confusion of the wicked, in the day of thy wrath. Grant, Lord, that I may judge myself, after the destruction that thou hast made with respect to me, that thou mayest not judge me thyself, after the entire destruction that thou wilt make of my life and of the world. For, Lord, as at the instant of my death I shall find myself separated from the world, stripped of all things, alone in thy presence, to answer to thy justice for all the emotions of my heart, grant that I may consider myself in this sickness as in a species of death, separated from the world, stripped of all the objects of my attachment, alone in thy presence, to implore of thy mercy the conversion of my heart; and that thus I may have extreme consolation in knowing that thou sendest me now a partial death in order to exercise thy mercy, before thou sendest me death effectively in order to exercise thy judgment. Grant then, O my God, that as thou hast anticipated my death, I may anticipate the rigor of thy sentence, and that I may examine myself before thy judgment, so that I may find mercy in thy presence.

Saturday Morning Fun….Quick and Simple Life Hacks

Flotsam and jetsam (8/17)

via Imgur

Good Reads

  • Why You Shouldn’t Build a House on Your Next Mission Trip: The solution is more about creating opportunities for the local communities to own these projects. The jobs, the education, and the responsibility are all essential elements to helping developing nations break the cycle of poverty. This doesn’t mean that we need to stop showing up, but it does mean that we need to rethink what we do when we get there.
  • Are We All Braggarts Now? Boasting isn’t just a problem on the Internet. In a society of unrelenting competition—where reality-show contestants duke it out for the approval of aging celebrities and pastors have publicists—is it any wonder we market ourselves relentlessly? (This one goes well with yesterday’s infographic on The Psychology of Social Networking.)
  • Get Fired in the Interview: If there’s a deal-breaker between you and the church, it’s better for that to come out in the interview stage than after they’ve already hired you. Lay all your cards out on the table, and let the chips fall where they may.

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