Wednesday, February 27, 2008

we'll miss you, larry

Larry Norman [1947-2008] died last Sunday. He was the Bob Dylan of Christian music. I know "Christian" often makes a better reality than it does an adjective, but Larry was the real deal. He was writing classics in the 70s like "Why Should the Devil have all the Good Music?" It is said that "his influence outweighed his sales so much that it's comical. He certainly had a heart for evangelism — almost to his detriment, I might say. He really could've been a star if he were singing about something other than Jesus." Read more here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

YHWH is merciful

Sara and I live in an apartment complex with a high population of Indians. We often get mail for guys who used to live there. It’s fun to see their different names. Most of the mail we get that is not ours comes for some guy named Brahim. By the looks of things, he had at least a dozen credit cards. The other day we got mail for someone new. His name is my favorite so far.

Manojkumarbalan Parambath.

I really want to know what he goes by and what’s short for that. Perhaps his parents blindly reached in the Scrabble bag and each grabbed 7 letters to see what they could make. I'm not bashing because I doubt they think that "Jim" is the coolest name around. Well, when I saw his name, it reminded me of the longest name in the Bible. It was the prophet Isaiah’s son. His name was Maher-shalal-hash-baz. It means “swift is the booty, speedy is the prey.” Then my train of thought went to one of the best Old Testament names that has a cool meaning. 1 Chronicles 3.19-20 says that Zerubbabel had a son named Jushab-hesed. For this, a little explanation is needed. Stay with me.

Zerubbabel led the first band of Jews home from the Babylonian Captivity. God’s special people were returning to the land He had promised them. They were again being liberated from bondage. They had seen that the exile was because of their own stiff-necked rebellion to YHWH. But He remained faithful. YHWH’s faithfulness is where the beauty of this name is found. After witnessing the mighty hand of YHWH to rescue His people, what else could Zerubbabel name his son but Jushab-hesed, “mercy is brought back.”
Remember my affliction and my wandering. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s mercies never cease; His compassions never fail; they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness [Lam 3.19-23].

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

america's most sinful cities

On Valentine's Day, Forbes Magazine gave us a list of America's most sinful cities. Their opening line is: "They say geography is destiny, but perhaps it is damnation as well." Our good buddy, Al Mohler, comments on it here.

Most Lustful: Denver ranked first, joined by San Antonio, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Boise, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, Columbus, Baltimore and Buffalo/Rochester. The research firm of AC Nielson used sales figures for contraceptives and sex items in ranking the list.

Most Jealous: Memphis tops the list, followed by Charlotte, San Antonio, Seattle, Providence, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Columbus, Oklahoma City, Chicago. The rankings were linked to crime rates for personal property.

Most Obese: Memphis, Birmingham, San Antonio, Riverside/San Bernardino, Detroit, Jacksonville, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, San Diego. Health statistics drove this listing.

Most Greedy: San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Boston, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, Miami. The rankings on this sin were determined by looking at the concentration of great wealth.

Most Murderous
: The crime statistics are clear - the most murderous city is Detroit, followed by Baltimore, New Orleans, Newark, St. Louis, Oakland, Washington DC, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Buffalo.

Most Slothful: Memphis tops this list as well, followed by New Orleans, Las Vegas, Detroit, Birmingham, Louisville, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Nashville, and Miami.

Most Vain: "Pride is supposed to be a deadly sin. When it comes to their looks, however, fewer Americans are seeing it that way," say the reporters, who used plastic surgery as the marker for this sin. Perhaps surprisingly, Salt Lake City ranked first, followed by San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Miami, Louisville, Nashville, Virginia Beach, New York, and Los Angeles.


This is a Sunday night sermon from October of 1981. I love just thinking about the fact that he grew up at the church across the street from Bob Jones. Fundamentalists unite!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

t h e i n n o c e n c e m i s s i o n

Crisp vocals. Folky goodness. Very chill. They're Catholics from Lancaster, PA. It'd be sweet if they had a little Amish in them too. They did a record of covers as lullabies for their daughter. They have also cut an album of traditional hymns and spirituals. Both are beautiful. Listen and purchase here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


John says that "all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." I don’t want to use this as a key to unlock other passages to make them say what they don't mean, but I have found this text as a helpful key in grasping what sin is.

The first sin and temptation was is in the garden. I see this paradigm applied there. The next sinless human on the scene, the Second Adam - our Lord Himself, was lured by the tempter in the same three ways. Finally, God's wrath comes upon mankind in three ways and for three reasons in Romans 1. I see John's "all that is in the world" in this tri-degradation as well.

So, here is all of the above charted out.

"We don't have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" [Heb 4.15-16].

the top ten movies of 2007, totally unbiased

This guy is not opinionated at all and well-read by the masses.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

indentification nurtures relationship

"Rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and weep with those who weep" [Rom 12.15].

"Therefore, he had to be made like his brethren in all things, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" [Heb 2.17].
Does this also mean that culture, because it is not innately evil, should be the primary point of reference for doing evangelism? Obviously, that point should be that we are all sinners needing remedy, but some people don't buy into that so much.

The answer is yes. Why do so many think this answer sacrifices the Gospel?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

esto es el mundo de mi padre

This is my Father’s world
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong
Seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet

Monday, February 11, 2008

the problem with the problem of evil?

Along with Tom Wright, Bart Ehrman is one of the world's leading New Testament scholars. Last year, NT Wright released his book on the problem of evil called Evil and the Justice of God. Wright provided fresh and biblical thoughts on the subject by including how terrorism, global disease, and relativistic postmodernism have brought it to the surface again. But now it's Bart's turn. His new book, God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer, is due out this week. It should prove to be a provoking read.

What is interesting to me is that these men are two of the leading minds on the Bible and they cannot get over this issue. Regardless of what approach one takes on this, man is always left scratching his finite head. No one can put this behind them as resolved. The results are usually either haunting or humbling.

I don't know if this a good question or if it is daring or if I'm just thinking too much or what, but what does God think about the problem of evil? It is certainly not a "problem" to him like it is to us, is it? After praying, reading, and racking my brain thinking about this, the following two thoughts have often brought comfort.

First... The omnipotent, all-wise, all-knowing, omnibenevolent, and loving God of the universe and of the Bible does not sit on his throne and ponder the extent of his sovereignty. This is what it means to be God.

Second [and I stole this from somewhere in Edwards] and metaphorically speaking... "the sun is not the cause of cold and darkness."

I sure hope Bart's words will help to offer peace to those who are on the verge of being made spiritually impotent because of this fragile matter.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"iN CHRiST" [a book on pauline theology soon to be published by john paulling and myself]

I'm finding, the more I read the Apostle Paul, that his ultimate picture and primary means of articulating the majority of God's salvific activity is by alluding to the concept or directly using the phrase "in Messiah" [or "in Christ"]. Not only do I see this as Paul's principal reference point, but I see it as the place where people could come to terms each other. Tom Wright and the New Perspectival brothers ought to go out of their way to highlight the reality that God's "covenant faithfulness" is only "in Christ." In the same way, all the hyper-Reformed brethren with the Westminster confession tattooed on their back and a Romans 9 plaque in their living room - they must take their grasp of imputation and justification here as well. It is too huge of a theological and rhetorical emphasis in Paul not to do so. Living "in Messiah" and being "in Messiah" both individually and corporately seem to be the fountain of his soteriology, ecclesiology, and much more. Hopefully, this helps....

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


"Be holy for I am Holy."
  • Lev 11.44
  • Lev 11.45
  • Lev 19.2
  • Lev 20.7
  • Lev 20.26
  • Lev 21.28
  • Num 15.40
  • 1 Pe 1.16


"Purge evil from your midst, O Israel."
  • Dt 13.5
  • Dt 17.7
  • Dt 17.12
  • Dt 19.19
  • Dt 21.21
  • Dt 22.22
  • Dt 22.24
  • Dt 24.7

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

welcome to Sodom

Swiped from a Driscoll sermon.
  • More money is spent on pornography every year than on every professional sport combined [pro baseball, basketball, football, etc].
  • Adult videos/dvds are sold at a rate of $4 billion per year.
  • America makes 11,000 adult movies every year. This is 20x the amount of movies put forth by main stream Hollywood.
  • There are about 2,500 strip clubs in America [close to 50 per state].
  • The word “sex” is the number one searched word on search engines on the internet.
  • 70% of all internet porn traffic occurs between 9am – 5pm. This means that people use their company’s high speed internet to feed their addiction away from home.
  • 61% of high school seniors had sex. 50% are currently sexually active. 21% have had 4 or more partners.
  • The average high school graduate will watch 15,000 hours of television in comparison to being in the classroom for 12,000.
  • These high school students will have viewed 14,000 sexual acts and references on TV, only a handful of which are associated with a faithful monogamous relationship.
  • Between 6–8% of Americans are sexually addictive [this is somewhere between 16 and 22 million people].

HOLY SONNET XIV by John Donne [an excerpt]

take me to you
imprison me

for I

except you enthrall me
never shall be free
nor ever chaste
except you ravish me

why i read Psalm 51 at the Lord's Supper

Because it’s an appeal to the unconditional covenant love and compassion of God [51.1]. David is flagrantly open and vulnerable concerning his sin. David acknowledges that his sin is against God and God alone [51.4]. The need for purity and holiness before God is clear [51.7-11]. He knows that broken bones will rejoice [51.8]. It reminds me that those things which our Lord delights in are humility, contrition, and joy in His righteous salvation [51.12, 51.17]. Another aspect of this that provokes my spirit is that David prays these things for the sake of others… “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways” [51.13]. And for the sake of God being honored… “Open my lips that my mouth may declare Your praise“ [51.15].

I hope that in doing this, I’m examining myself so I don’t eat and drink unworthily [1 Cor 11.27-29]; I’m remembering Jesus’ work on the cross [1 Cor 11.24]; and I’m proclaiming the glory of His death until He comes [1 Cor 11.26].

Friday, February 1, 2008

prayers for the real sara thompson

Today I was bored and typed my wife's name into a search engine. I was presented with several options for who my wife really is. There was Sara Thompson "Rebelious Leadership" or Sara Thompson the cheerleader for the Denver Nuggets or my personal favorite - the USS Sara Thompson [which used to be a ship in our Navy].

After deliberation, I think I'll stick with the funny girl with a gi-normous smile from a trailer in the hills of South Carolina who can't seem to wipe joy off of her face. You're more than welcome to pray for her these days, as
her Crohns disease is alive and well. It hurts us for the moment, but we know that He does all things well.


This is a chat between myself and one of my favorite Presbyterian brothers....

ME: The theoretical dynamic of contextualization is good to beat into our skulls, but actually doing contextualization has got to be Spirit-led. As Gordon Fee pleads that that our exegesis and scholarship must be Spirit-wrought, so must our contextualization be. When Paul was burning to go to Spain, he knew that they spoke Latin and that culture there was probably a bit different, but it is not likely he had John Mark run up there and sketch a dozen ethnographic and/or demographic surveys. He was compelled by the Spirit. I dont think they're mutually exclusive though. Knowing the how, why, when, and where of contextualizing - these are gifts of God as well. I hope all this doesn't sound smart aleck. It's kind of where He has been teaching me.

PD: We need to be careful in talking about the Spirt working through us that we are not gnostics. Calvinists believe that God works through means, so we are not left in some kind of Kantian bikini. Thinking hard about contextualization is the work of the Spirt leading us....

ME: I concur readily that contextualization is, or rather - can be and should be - the work of the Spirit. For Paul, gnosticism and being led by the Spirit weren't things to confuse. The gnostics damned the real Jesus, not the real Spirit. Still, I think many of those "means" are the gifts or ministries of the Spirit in the lives of the believers. After Paul yaps thoroughly about theology in his epistles, he then turns to what it looks like for Spirit-endowed believers to live that theology [the "gifts" or "ministries" in Rom 12, 1 Cor 12-14, Gal 5, Eph 4-5, etc]. Believers should have a direct relationship with the Spirit and should also be sensitive to the "means" he uses. I think that it is both/and, not either/or. Is this too pentecostal? I'd rather not categorize it. I just think that is where the NT balance is. Well, I need a good Presbyterian response to this. Feedback please. I need iron-sharpening on this. Also, your image of the Kantian bikini is really seductive. I'm going to buy one for Sara.