December 29, 2011

On the threshold of a new year...

Nathan Busenitz offers a thought-provoking and helpful approach to our new years resolutions from a Biblical, Christian perspective.

I invite you to read his thoughts here: A New Year’s Top Ten List

December 23, 2011

His name...

Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God.

Everlasting Father.

Prince of Peace.

December 10, 2011

Resurrection Prophecies

There was an excellent question during a recent meeting of the Men's Bible Fellowship group at my church. We were looking at the importance of the resurrection of Christ and the question was raised if the resurrection of Christ was prophesied in a similar fashion as his birth. I was able to spend some time researching the question and found the answer to be quite interesting and an opportunity for my own personal growth in understanding God's Word. 

In general, Christ's resurrection is not prophesied in the same way we think of many of the details of Christ's life and work, which are attested to in multiple passages in the Old Testament, amounting to dozens of prophecies.There is a very small number of clear references to Christ's resurrection in the OT, and even those are not as direct as other prophecies we are used to.  However, there are numerous prophecies from the lips of Jesus in the New Testament, prior to the crucifixion, that are crystal clear.

In my personal studies, I've fallen into the habit of thinking of messianic prophecy in terms of OT predictions given hundreds of years in advance of their fulfillment. This approach is short-sighted at best. The near-term, crystal-clear predictions from Jesus of His own resurrection are solid ground to stand on and give us sure hope in the One who has conquered death and is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Clear Old Testament References
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:8-11)

Psalm 16:8-11 is the single clearest prophecy concerning the resurrection of the Messiah.  It is identified by both Peter and Paul as such, in the following passages respectively:

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, "'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' (Acts 2:24-28)

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, "'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.' And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, "'I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.' Therefore he says also in another psalm, "'You will not let your Holy One see corruption.' For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. (Acts 13:32-37)

Implicit OT References

The following passages may be taken as implicit references to the resurrection of Christ.  "Implicit" means that the resurrection of Christ may be seen through or behind the text, but it is not spelled out in so many words.  It may prove helpful to look at these verses in concert with a sound Bible commentary to help draw out the implications in each passage.

  • Psalm 22:22 (referenced in Hebrews 2:12)
  • Psalm 118:22-24 (referenced in Matthew 21:42)
  • Isaiah 53:10
  • Hosea 6:1-2
  • Genesis 3:15
  • 1 Samuel 2:6

Clear NT References

The following passages are clear prophecy given by Jesus prior to the crucifixion. He was no reluctant or accidental savior, but the righteous servant and Lord over all.

  • Matthew 12:38-40 (the sign of Jonah)
  • Matthew 16:21
  • Matthew 17:9
  • Matthew 17:23
  • Matthew 20:19
  • Matthew 26:32
  • Matthew 27:63
  • Mark 9:9
  • Mark 9:31
  • Mark 10:33-34
  • Mark 14:58
  • Luke 9:22
  • Luke 18:31-33
  • John 2:19-21

And so it occured precisely as Jesus said.  The resurrection of the Savior is crucial to the Christian religion.  Without it, preaching and faith are futile and we are still in our sins.  But oh, brothers and sisters, the tomb is empty! There is real forgiveness to be had from the gracious hand of our God and Savior.

December 9, 2011

The Atonement

John Murray's book Redemption--Accomplished and Applied has helped me repeatedly over the years.  Here is a shorter treatment of the atonement for your benefit.

"The atonement springs from the fountain of the Father’s love; He commends His own love towards us. We must not think, however, that the action of the Father ended with the appointment and commission of the Son. He was not a mere spectator of Gethsemane and Calvary. The Father laid upon His own Son the iniquities of us all. He spared not His own Son but delivered Him up. He made Him to be sin for us. It was the Father who gave Him the cup of damnation to drink. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Here is love supremely demonstrated." - John Murray

Theology Proper

Christ the Center presents Professor Oliphint who shares some interesting thoughts on theology proper and how the Infinite One relates with finite us.  Click here to listen to the discussion.

November 30, 2011

Your real life now

Pastor Byron Yawn writes, "My duty as a pastor is not to provide a sufficient answer when the broken human heart is demanding it. My duty is to describe a God who can be trusted as good even when there are no satisfactory answers."

November 26, 2011

Reading with them new fangled whatchamajiggers

I had been considering getting an e-reader for a few months. I kept struggling with my love for paper, highlighters, and the mobility a book offers. This set me to thinking about how I might use an e-reader. Should I approach it as a general replacement for my library? Should I use it for a subset of my reading? What kind of functions should I look for? Is this another piece of technology that will absorb my time and energy on the tool itself, distracting me from the discipline of reading?

An e-reader must be simple. This decision led me away from all of the android palmtop computing devices. Computers have whittled my life away one CPU clock-cycle at a time. The last thing I need is another sparkly 'efficient computer' to efficiently kill my soul with distraction and gee whiziness.

An e-reader must come from a solid vendor. This decision steered me away from bargain basement readers which will prove to have no legs and even fewer titles. In my eyes, we're only talking about two possibilities at this point.  Amazon' s Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. In general I think Amazon has the stronger business model and financial position.  Even so, there are no guarantees that your technology purchase of today will be viable 10 years from now, which leads to the next point.

An e-reader is not a wholesale replacement for printed books. Especially academic publications which continue to be referenced and useful for decades. Both the volatility of electronic media and the need to reference several works simultaneously render the e-reader an incomplete replacement for the printed book.

Based on these decisions, I purchased a bottom-end kindle and several non-academic titles, as well as dirt-cheap (but valuable as diamond-encrusted gold bars) puritan works. It has proven to be a transparent, convenient, usable and non-distracting tool which gives easy access to works that will feed my soul and shape me for years to come. I've also purchased a couple longer academic works to try test the waters, wading into entended treatments of Biblical Theology. In light of the realistic encouragement to be found in another recent post, I'm no longer stressed out to remember everything, to highlight every word, or to read every book ever published.  In retrospect, the touch-based model might have been a better choice, but either would prove serviceable. I don't pretend that I've figured all of the assumptions or impacts out, but am thankful for the tool and recommend it for your consideration.

November 24, 2011

A couple of thoughts on reading and writing

I'm a reader. I've written a few things. Over the years, there have been discouragements to both found in the oddest of places. Urban legends surrounding evangelical super-heroes kill my desire to read and write.  How so? Al Mohler has the library of Congress in his study, has memorized every book, and can reason and quote freely from any chosen discipline. I can't remember where I left my car keys. James White can write 15-page single-spaced replies to anonymous emails he receives in about 15 seconds.  It takes me four months to compose a 15 word post.  Jonathan Edwards is such a passionate writer who, even though he has been dead for a very long time, is still writing books today. I'm still breathing and struggle to communicate conviction to my closest friends,let alone getting it down clearly in black and white. D.A. Carson absorbs entire books in 2 page snippets read in the 'downtime' between each breath. I read and re-read a single page of Carson in the space of a day and still can't understand what he's saying.

If you're still standing on the plain looking up longingly at the heights of the evangelical Kilimanjaro, don't give up.  It is heartening to see reflections in the evangelical community that, shall we say, lighten the load a little for us mere mental midgets.

September 16, 2011

A Brief History of Trinitarian Thought

The Trinity is a great doctrine which evangelicals would do well to spend more energy on (including myself).  As an encouragement for you, the following link will take you to an hour-long discussion on the history of Trinitarian thought, hosted by Reformed Forum.  The dialogue includes Dr. Carl Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Seminary. This is an academic introduction so is a bit of heavy lifting at times. 

A description of the program and the audio can be found here.  Or you can jump directly to the audio file by clicking here.


September 14, 2011

Against Heresies: When the Gospel gets personal

Martin Downes; pastor, author, and blogger of Against Heresies; preaches on Acts 24:24-27. When the Gospel gets personal. Pastor Downes breathes personality and life into the historic account of Paul and Festus and brings it home to us today.

One caveat. You may want to simply listen but not watch the video. The video shuttles between camera angles in a rapid-fire and distracting manner.

September 11, 2011

Heaven is for real - a book review

There are so many books to read.  Some are good.  Some, not so much.  One very popular book in Christian bookstores now is called Heaven is for Real.  Please, do not judge this book by its cover, but rather, by its content.  Kevin Miller gives a thought-provoking review of this popular work.

September 10, 2011

New Sunday School Series Begins

After a summer hiatus enabled by Pastor Kevin Miller taking the helm of the adult Sunday School class, I return to teaching this wonderful group of souls.  We will be focusing on various aspects of Christ, using Kris Lundgaard's book Through the Looking Glass

The first lesson will be September 11, 2011.  The series will run approximately 4 months, taking us through the end of 2011.  Please stop by First Evangelical Free Church at 9am on Sunday mornings and join us.  We would love to have you.

August 28, 2011

For Our Friends in Australia

Coming to Brisbane, Australia in October 2011, an important debate on the nature of God.  I hope you will be able to attend.  I have known Dr. James White for many years and have learned much from him.  You will benefit from attending, listening, and contemplating the great truth of the Biblical Triune God which James will present.

August 6, 2011

A Personal Note

Dear Friends,
I am hopeful that the clouds are lifting and the extended hours I have had to invest recently at work are starting to level off to a more normal level.  That said, I will be helping at my home church with the young men's small group, as well as adult Sunday School teaching. I believe I will also be able to engage in some good reading and some writing. This is a positive development for me and I look forward to returning to more regular posting here.

July 24, 2011

A note from the trenches

Dear Readers,
Is there peace to be found in the midst of a busy time when it seems, as it were, that God sets you aside?  When you have precious little energy to devote to focused study & prayer and even less time, does the light go out?  Has God forgotten you?

I remain convinced that God is faithful.  His grace and mercy never run dry.  While the desert might seem harsh, He guides you there for a purpose.  Challenges and failures are tools in the Master's hand, molding you as He sees fit, purposefully and with great care.

July 16, 2011

Eaten alive

My job is consuming my life again.  I regret not being able to write but don't even have time to read.  I should be able to return to semi-regular posting at the beginning of 2012.

June 28, 2011

Words of Wisdom

"All human wisdom must be denied, when it comes in competition with the doctrine of Christ." - Charnock

June 23, 2011

Challenging, Helpful, Insightful, and Life-Changing

I just finished reading Tim Challies' book The Next Story. I believe this book will have a huge impact, not so much for any final analysis that Tim provides, but rather because he has started the discussion with very insightful and penetrating questions. Over the next few years, I believe the seeds he plants with this book will grow and bear fruit in the writings of many. In a nutshell, Christian lives will be changed for the better through a ripple effect springing from the ideas the author presents in these 200 pages.

How well will we live the Christian life in the 21st century? However we choose to do it, technology will undoubtedly play a large role. The Next Story will help you see behind the curtain and will coax, if not literally force, you to examine your use of digital tools (and their use of you).

I am 45 years old and do not simply recognize many of the shifts that Tim writes about. No, not simple recognition... it is a resonance that runs through my mind and is working its way out through my actions. I am not a little ashamed of my unquestioning embrace of things digital, which has been accompanied by innumerable failures and shifts in perception on my part. This is an eye-opening work. It almost makes me feel like Saul when the scales fell from his eyes and he could see again.

My heart-felt advice and urging for you - read The Next Story.

June 18, 2011

I love being a dad

I love being a dad. Although I've messed things up and I'll make more mistakes and missteps, I love being a dad. I don't get it right. I don't know the future. I say the wrong things. I love being a dad. About the time I might have something figured out, things change. The kids grow to young adults, their lives change, they make plans and prepare for the next phase of their lives. I love being a dad. I'm sentimental. I love looking at old pictures. I see the promises of my own life fading as the winds of time wear them down little by little. I have hope because of Jesus. I love being a dad. I miss my dad - another father's day without him here. I remember his advice and support and just plain fatherly love. I love being a dad. I lose focus. I chase the wrong things. I get distracted. I forget the most important things in life. I love being a dad. I've never been a coach. I'm not much for sports. I get preoccupied with work. I complain a lot. I love being a dad.

I am a dad only because of my children. I love being a dad because I love them. It's not about me. It's about them. I love being a dad because of the special people God has gifted into my life, for me to care for and provide for and support and love and be loved by.

I'm far from perfect, much closer to broken, but I still love being a dad. Thank you kids, for all that you do. I love you.

May 25, 2011

May 15, 2011

Words of Wisdom

"Procrastination has been called a thief - the thief of time. I wish it were no worse than a thief. It is a murderer; and that which it kills is not time merely, but the immortal soul." --Nevins, (quoted in Bonar)

April 30, 2011

A Saturday Morning Well Spent

I had the blessing of spending a few hours this morning eating and hanging out with my pastor, Kevin Miller, and my friend, Aaron Rice. Both are much younger than I and their energy is contagious, so it's always a 'pick me up' to hang with them. We had a sort of theological jam session with pancakes and orange juice thrown on top. As we sat in my very condensed library and discussed theologians, books, and other sundries, I was reminded of my deep indebtedness to the late Leon Morris. Dr. Morris has helped shape me indirectly through his writings for many years. Although I never met him in person I do miss him and regret that his pen has been silenced.

After a hearty breakfast and some meaty discussion, we made a quick trip to the local Christian book store. I was pleasantly surprised to find a single copy of Tim Challies new book, The Next Story. I picked it up and started reading it today. I have finished part 1. I enjoy Tim's writing and plan on sticking closely to the book for a few more days to finish reading it. I recognize much of myself in what he writes. I think we're relatively close in age (within a decade), so Tim writes of digital transition points that echo my own experience. He raises questions that most of us need to ask but rarely take the time to. Get the book, read it, and ponder what he proposes.

I thank the Lord for the blessing of these brothers and my home church. He has dealt richly with me, from the depth of His grace.

April 24, 2011

Amazing Grace

I must confess this is my favorite hymn of all time. This version is interesting and well done.

Amazing Grace

Words of Wisdom

'By faith we embrace Jesus Christ, and are so united with Him, that we are in Him and He in us. As He was pleased to take upon Himself all our miseries and make them His own, so by faith, He is made ours; His obedience is ours, His innocence, His righteousness, His satisfaction, His holiness, nay all that He hath is ours.'

April 13, 2011

April 10, 2011


Hello dear readers. A handful of thoughts tonight.

  • I'm currently reading through some of John Murray's shorter articles. I like Murray. The portrait on the dust cover presents a sober visage. I am sure many students beaded up under his... oversight. :-) One thing that truly encourages me as I read Murray is his admitted debt to the work of B. B. Warfield in the area of inspiration. It is strengthening to see someone of Murray's spiritual and intellectual stature reaping the benefits of another's work.

  • It's good to see several conservative theologians taking on Rob Bell's book. I'm sure it will prove to be short-lived, but then again Bell has a committed audience and has already been around for several years with controversy swirling at various times. Nevertheless, I hope the current focused controversy on universalism (and lesser-so Bell's attack on substitutionary atonement) will be used to deliver helpful responses for the church at large.

  • The Lord has been rich in mercy towards me, allowing me to serve my local church in several ways over the years. It has been a joy and continues to be a high-point in my life - both the preparation time and teaching/mentoring opportunities. While I enjoy online ministry, witnessing, and apologetics; it is in the life flow of the church and direct, personal ministry and friendship that brings the most joy and the better harvest. In my mind's eye, I hope to have time to research and write in the coming years - God willing. But if it is not to be, I rest in my Savior's mercies and will walk with my family and church family, resting in Jesus.

  • I started reading Tom Schreiner's book on the apostle Paul over a year ago. In the last three years, I have tried to take to heart the advice of several prolific readers to not get bogged down in footnotes and references on the first read of a book. I was enjoying Schreiner's work but then mis-stepped and fell into the morass of footnotes and references. It killed my reading of the book, or, I should say, it was at least partially the cause ... my job also has seriously impacted everything I've been able to do for the last 8 months. I don't know what your reading habits are, but if you're struggling to stay connected with a good work, read the main text and keep moving.

  • My pastor started a new men's Bible study recently. We are walking through one chapter of Ephesians every two weeks. I'm really enjoying the study and getting to know the men better. We have a dozen men ranging from 18-60+ years. Much to be learned from these brothers.

  • Prayer. Yes, prayer. Many thanks my church for holding up my family in prayer.

It is back to work tomorrow, so will be a few days before I can write again. It feels like my job is starting to return to something more 'normal'. Hoping the trend continues.

March 19, 2011

"That's what you've done, isn't it?"

I had not seen this interview but was given a heads-up by my friend Aaron Rice. I can't say that I feel sorry for Bell as Bashir calls him on making the gospel more palatable to the modern mind, since Bell ends up emptying the gospel of all meaningful content and truth. Bravo, Mr. Bashir, for asking very good and pointed questions.

Amputated or Ingrafted Apologists?

March 12, 2011

I feel his pain...

Regrettably, I too have been bitten by the "Reply All" rattlesnake.

Funny and pulse-racing all at the same time.

March 6, 2011

Lowly Approach Heaven's Gates In Your Steps Today

Pastor Charles Spurgeon gives us food for thought. No. More than food. He is crying clearly, "FIRE! FIRE! GET OUT TO SAFETY!" as he rightly should, being faithful to the inspired text. His words, though spoken long ago, ring in my ears with an urgency that is very unlike the soothing mews mumbled by some so-called preachers today. There is a cutting edge to the message of the Gospel. Jesus came to save us from his very own judgment, and when that day comes he will give no quarter, no mercy, no kindness. He will not blink at sin nor wink at unbelief. Righteousness shall rule in judgment. Be ready, reader. Be ready at the foot of the cross.

There comes a fire! Get out! Get out to safety in Jesus!

February 26, 2011

Your Affections and Heart, Christian

"Pass through this world, believers in Jesus, liking nothing in it, caring for nothing in it, content and satisfied with nothing it can give, moved with nothing in it; neither much taken up with the much evil, or the little good of it; neither cast down with the frowns, nor lifted up with the smiles of this vain deceitful world. Pass on, and press forward for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, Phil. iii. 14. You have greater things to look to, greater things to fix your hearts and hopes upon, than all this world; even to that blessed state, when we shall be with Christ where he is, and shall behold his glory which his Father hath given him: for the Father loved his Son and our Saviour before the foundation of the world."
-- Robert Traill, excerpt from Sixteen Sermons

February 19, 2011

How to help your pastor

"How can we help our pastor? We can help him by talking about what he says; not talking about the performance and about the performer and all that, which, if it is appropriate anywhere, is surely all inappropriate when we turn away from the solemn worship of God, and from listening to sermons intended to do us good -- but talking about the thoughts that he has given us, recalling them sometimes to one who has heard them like ourselves, repeating them sometimes to some one who has not had the opportunity of hearing them. Thus may we multiply whatever good thoughts the preacher is able to present and keep them alive in our own minds and the minds of fellow-Christians."

-- John A. Broadus, Sermons and Addresses

January 29, 2011

How excellent is His love?

"This love of Christ to his people, both designs and effects the greatest good to those he loves. Among creatures there is a deal of love to little purpose. Either they intend but little by their love; or if they do design it, their love cannot reach it. But the greatest good, eternal life, is not only intended by Christ in his love to his people, but it is surely attained. All that Christ loves, are saved: why? because his love is saving. Salvation is designed by this lover, and is perfected by this love.

Let me therefore exhort you to love Jesus Christ. Is his heart set upon having all his people with him where he is? Surely we ought to return love to him back again. Most of those that pretend to the name of christian, think they make some conscience of it as being a most just debt and duty to him; and will be ready to say with Paul, 'If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha," 1 Cor. xvi 22. But as the love that Christ bears to his people, is not so well known and believed as it ought to be; so the love his people owe to him is not so well paid as it ought to be."

--Robert Traill, Sixteen Sermons on the Lord's Prayer, pp.111

Time & Wisdom

James White shares a brief but pithy glimpse into the realities of family life and the passage of time. Pause, take a breath, and read it.

January 1, 2011

Consumed by work

Dear Friends,
I have been consumed by my employment for the last few weeks. A critical project is nearing completion. Many hours of overtime and stresses on the heart and mind. I hope to be back online in the next month. No excuses... simply reality.