1. My favorite genre of books is biographies. After reading yet another biography of one of my childhood heroes over the weekend I’ve come to a conclusion that one should either never do anything to merit someone writing your biography or have the good sense to die before someone publishes one anyway.
2. If we devoted half the time and energy we use in assigning blame for our problems to finding solutions for those problems, we might actually solve some problems.
3. If you might actually be helped by the ACA you probably should keep it to yourself…it’s another dividing line and the hate is flying.
4. Every professional sport has a Hall of Fame. The Bible has one in Hebrews 11. It is part of the Christian faith tradition to honor those who have accomplished much before us. Therefore, I have absolutely no issue with those folks who believe that they were touched positively by Chuck Smith’s ministry honoring him. Likewise, I have no issue with those who want to speak to the negative impact of his decisions as well. The Bible always shows us people in three dimensions…it’s honest about the sins of the people it celebrates despite them. That way, God gets the glory for using sinful, broken people in His grace and mercy.
5. We all have idols in our lives, foremost, the one in the mirror.
6. I called Mark Driscoll and James McDonald horses asses on Facebook over the weekend. I just did it again.
7. I have two autographed pictures in my home. The biography I referenced in #1 was about one of those signees. I wasn’t shocked by his sins, nor did they affect my estimation of his gifts in any way. The only parts that bothered me were the facts that he died without Christ and he died completely alone. I doubt that his fame comforted him then …or now.
8. The older I get and the more I know of Christ, sin saddens me far more than it angers me.
9. John MacArthur could have made a huge contribution to the body of Christ over the weekend if he had chosen to invite charismatics to a conference to dialog about the issues he perceives in that camp. Instead, he divided us once more…which is as wicked as any charismatic excess.
10. Black and white thinking usually testifies to the fact that you are color blind…
Except that before your holy name, we mumble in awe and timidity and cowardice.
Your holy name we can hardly utter: the father of all orphans, the son who is crucified and risen, the spirit who blows where it will, creator, maker of all that is, redeemer, who frees us from the power of death, sanctifier who blesses us with betterness.
Your holy name that causes powers to tremble and angels to yield.
Your holy name that causes chaos to settle, and death to depart, and feverish anxiety to grow quiet.
Your name we dare entertain in our dry mouths, on our thin tongues, between our quivering lips.
No, we are not worthy to utter your name, we are so anxious and devious, we are so preoccupied and distracted, we who cannot stay awake to watch with you one hour, we who have our own ways in the world that are not your ways.
Except you have entrusted your holy name to us; you have called us as your witnesses; you have empowered us to be your good news messengers.
So we pray in this awesome moment in your presence, match up your holy name with our poor testimony, that we may make your name and your power and your purpose very large and awesome and compelling, large before the rulers of this age, awesome amid the violence of our world and our government, compelling amid our mad pursuit of oil and commodities and safety.
We pray for freedom and courage to praise you, that by our praise, the angels in heaven may he invited to awe, the folk among us may he summoned to notice, the children in our midst may he moved to trust you.
You, you the lamb that is slain, are worthy to be praised.
Take our unworthy selves and by your good power let our praise toward you be done worthily.
That you, your kingdom and your power and your glory may he made large in our times and in our places, here and now-made very large.
Walter Brueggemann. Prayers for a Privileged People (pp. 13-14). Kindle Edition.
We were going to Vegas, buddy.
Trey and I…flying high.
We weren’t going to gamble or to introduce my boy to libertine living, but to participate in a martial arts tournament.
Trey had been training hard and was determined to bring home the gold.
The instructor was coaching him with fervor and reminding us to eat well, sleep well, and not to get hurt pursuing other hobbies.
He once had a boy break his arm while skateboarding just two weeks before a tournament.
Don’t be that boy, he warned.
Trey was not that boy…he broke his arm while skateboarding three weeks before the tournament.
He got the soft cast yesterday, then he’ll have three weeks in a hard one.
The hard cast will come off one week after the tournament and one week too late to participate.
Naturally he is disconsolate, and naturally, he comes to me for comfort and to understand this cruel twist of circumstance.
“Everything happens for a reason”, I offered.
“Will you pray”? he asked.
I ignored the prayer request because we all know that God isn’t going to heal his arm on time and the earlier in life that he can accept the religious cliche I offered that everything happens for mysterious reasons known only to God the better off he will be.
Hopefully, he’s too young to inquire of me why we only use that cliche when something bad happens….
“Will you pray”? he asked again…this time with a voice of desperation.
If I say yes, he’ll want an x ray every day to see if God has healed him yet and if God doesn’t heal him I’ve already used my best cliche.
If God doesn’t answer his prayer he’ll be utterly disappointed with Jesus and leave the faith when he gets older and run a snarky internet site mocking Christians.
“WILL YOU PRAY”????…now the volume is up and the tears are flowing.
Yes, I’ll pray.
I’ll pray for a child like faith that still believes that God can and God will do things beside provide cliches for jaded Christian parents.
I’ll pray for the faith to risk praying big prayers to a bigger God.
I’ll pray for a heart that won’t settle for cliches when prayer is an option.
I’ll pray that you never lose your hope in the mercy and goodness of God.
I’ll pray…that your arm is healed in time to catch a flight to Vegas.
God may just heal him…everything happens for a reason.
Make your own application…
In my little library more than one of those shelves is filled with books on eschatology.
They are going to be yard sale fodder now.
Let’s just cut to the chase…this is the single best volume on eschatology ever written and I truly believe that it will become the standard teaching text on the subject in institutions of higher Christian learning.
It also should be required reading by all who believe that eschatology is a vital component of their faith…which should be all of us.
This book is comprehensive…it covers all of the doctrines and biblical texts associated with eschatology and the author has read and interacts with the differing positions on them honestly and fairly.
As a result, the book comes in at over 600 pages but every one of them is valuable in understanding the place of eschatology in the overall biblical narrative.
Great theology books are ones where the author has a clear position, but he is also well read and respectful of what others have written and what other traditions embrace.
Too often, books of this nature make a compelling case for one position, but do so at the expense of accurate representation of opposing views.
Not so with this one.
Menn is amillennial, but he seems to have read every dispensational author from Walvoord to Feinberg to Chuck Smith and he quotes, footnotes, and interacts with all of them based on the biblical text.
He does likewise with all the other major historical views.
None of the major views are given short shrift here and all are presented giving their best arguments and best scholars a voice.
I cannot commend Menn highly enough for this…it greatly strengthens the integrity of the whole volume.
My other two criteria for a “great” book are whether the author challenges my own presuppositions from the biblical text and whether he does so in a way that I can understand his arguments.
Once again, Menn gets my highest grades on both counts.
This is the 2013 Book of the Year in my opinion…and it will be reference work esteemed for it’s excellence for many years to come.
From the publisher:
Biblical Eschatology provides what is not found in any other single volume on eschatology: it analyzes all the major eschatological passages (including the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation), issues (including the second coming of Christ, the millennium, the rapture, and Antichrist), and positions (including all the major views of the millennium) in a clear, but not superficial, way. The book concludes with a chapter showing how eschatology is relevant for our lives.
Biblical Eschatology makes understanding eschatology easier by including chapters on how to interpret prophecy and apocalyptic literature, by showing the history of eschatological thought, and by placing eschatology in the context of the Bible’s overall story line and structure. Clarity and understanding are enhanced by the use of comparative tables and appendices. Subject and Scripture indexes are included. The book interacts with the best of Evangelical and Reformed scholarship, and the extensive bibliography (which includes the Web addresses of many resources that are online) provides an excellent source for the reader’s further study. This is a perfect resource for intelligent Christians, including pastors, students, and teachers, who desire to understand eschatology and to see how it fits together with the rest of the Bible.
I was going to host a conference on “Strange Fur” but the cat wouldn’t stay still…
In an environment of freedom, men are able to choose their own destiny, act upon their own impulses in expanding their reach in the ecclesiastical culture of the day. And while it must be noted that there are always exceptions, those with the capital means at their disposal appear most able to engage or defend the phenomena of multi-site churches.
The defense for such a venture is that God has led the church and pastor to do this. Hard to argue with that, less you find yourself in dispute with God. However, is the action consistent with appropriate ethics, particularly of the culture that values the scriptures and example that Jesus gave?
What is the action that so violates the ethic? The answer is found in how we perceive and meet our needs. In a democratic society, ever person has the license to organize his life and ventures as it pleases him. Sounds like the American dream. Needs are not bad in and of themselves and in many instances are legitimate expectations that should be fulfilled The problem begins when a necessary need, that which does well and provides benefit when satisfied , is transformed into unnecessary need by casting off prudence and moderation that is so vital in regulating our lives. It becomes desire unbridled, or what we call lust. For example, the necessary need of food is to satisfy hunger, and it is reasonable to meet that desire. However an appetite for unhealthy foods beyond moderation can have devastating results on our health. A person desires love and companionship and fills that need though marriage. Yet their desire, if left unchecked, can become more than what their spouse provides and they seek the unnecessary desire through extra-marital affairs.
I don’t see it any differently with churches. Starting a church is a necessary desire for a community, but is it really necessary to a have a particular brand or personality in multiple locations simply for the convenience of the community? Or, are we, both community and pastor alike, crossing the line of moderation and gratifying a need that should really not be met? Indulgence always redefines reality to justify their actions. Their unabated shameless promotion is called courage. Those who call for caution and moderation are accused of unwarranted criticism, jealously, envy, cowardice, or simply dismissed as inadequate for the task with phrases like, “those who can do, those who can’t, blog”.
When we stray beyond the realm of necessity, we enter a consumptive mentality in which we desire to amass greater assets in the form of capital and influence. The danger is that it might not satisfy and find ourselves checked only by our limitation of raising more capital to gather more. One cannot expand their holdings without eventually encroaching on others that are less able to maintain or further their own ministry.When we take from others to satisfy our unnecessary desire, we carry out a great injustice. To perpetrate any act of injustice violates the shalom and trumps any argument of “God led me to do this”. We cannot lean on God’s leading when we violate ethics and standards of justice.
Our church culture has been conditioned to identify the will and move of God with an upward trajectory of growth and expansion. There may be some biblical reasons to support this. But I’m afraid we have taken legitimate, godly desire and with our pursuit of our own lust and passion, entered the realm of unnecessary desire. Multi-sites are but a natural expression of that ethic with pragmatism in many cases being the justification. It is the symptom of a greater problem where the church has misplaced their destiny for greed. I wonder if God will eventually require that we restore sevenfold?
1. The big news in sports yesterday was about Adrian Peterson of the Vikings playing despite the death of his son. The reports spoke of his great faith and character in the midst of tragedy. What seems to have been missed is that Peterson didn’t know that he had a son with this woman until recently and the first time he saw the child was after he was on life support. While this doesn’t lessen the horror of the tragedy, it is a tragedy in itself that so called men of faith can’t seem to confine fatherhood to women they are married to. It doesn’t take any faith to conceive a child, it takes a great deal of faith and character to raise one and do so within the confines of a real family.
2. I keep hoping that a reasonable voice and a real leader will emerge in this country who desires to bring us back together as a nation. Then, I realized that some would immediately label a real statesman as the “anti-Christ” and try to ruin him.
3. Every email I get asking if Calvary Chapel is now “on the road to Rome” gets put in a file labeled “Stupid”.
4. There is nothing more detrimental to the faith than seeing raw ambition rewarded in the church…
5. October is the month where everyone over 50 tells everyone else over 50 that their joints have started hurting.
6. Nothing excites me more than reading a great book that offers new light on some aspect of theology…and nothing disappoints me more than knowing that few will bother to read it.
7. I knew if I waited long enough it would happen…we’re seeing theological “exposes” of the guy from Duck Dynasty. Turns out the fellow is Church of Christ and believes in baptismal regeneration. I rejoice that the guy knows Jesus, but that’s never enough when critics need content for their radio show/blog/Facebook/ Twitter feed.
8. When the line between entertainment and worship gets blurred in the slightest…it’s no longer worship.
9. I had a couple of sleepless nights last week so I listened to a couple of debates between a Protestant and a Catholic on Marian theology…and there is just no way I could ever swim the Tiber based on those doctrines alone.
10. If the true measure of our faith is how much we love God and neighbor than the cause for most of our problems in church and society begins with a lack of love for both.