Monday, March 31, 2008

if you care at all about being a pastor or preacher, you get to listen to this

I almost fell crying from atop my painting ladder a couple of times while listening to this because it's so good. And free to download.


The only house-buying advice I can offer at this stage in the game is to always keep in mind that the word "mortgage" comes from the Latin word for death. And I've heard it haunts you as such as well. Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

impressed with Jesus

My job painting is cool for different reasons. I get to hang with some good dudes and talk about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. I get to spend time meditating and praying some as well. I also get to listen to my "Wal-Mart iPod" [a really cheap-o mp3 player]. This usually includes music, sermons, lectures, etc. But this past week I listened to the first 12 or 13 chapters of the gospel of Matthew. It was fun to try to think really Jewish when I was listening to the genealogy. It was intense, imagining the birth narrative and all that happened with Herod, Mary, Jo, shepherds, and the Magi. The preaching, baptisms, and temptations of chapters three and four with John, Jesus, and Satan were all provoking to listen to as well.


When I got to chapters 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount, I was blown away. This was God speaking. But He was a carpenter. This was the Messiah finally beginning His ministry, but He sure didn't look like an anointed king or a priest. As I listened, my puny theological categories were shattered. How I tend to think of Jesus was put back in its place. I was humbled, convicted, enthralled, and massively impressed with Jesus. He was, and is, full of grace and truth. I could hear it as clear as day. Every paragraph seemed to be evenly salted with compassion and justice, with tolerance and judgment, blessings and warnings, and with love and authority. And "when he finished these words, the crowds were amazed at his teaching for he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes" [Mt 7.28-29].

The kingdom has come in Jesus. Life in and with Him now is going to look different. Is this true for me? I know it is in theory and in eternity, but for some odd reason that occasionally gets skewed in practice. Holy Spirit, help me

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Even if you hate it, you can't say that it's not fun to read. Shane Claiborne's new book, that is.

"Jesus for President" takes almost 150 out of its 360 pages to retell the story of the Bible, flavoring it with political seasoning here and there. Claiborne then quotes heavily from the early church fathers and discusses the early church's life as it related to the state. His tons of historical references, stories, and quotes are worth the price of the book [from Constantine, Athanasius, St Francis, to America's founding fathers, and more]. He always has catchy and cute phrases to spur believers on to kingdom living in the present. Some of these include "compassionate imperialism", "practicing resurrection", "revolutionary subordination", and other trendy/hippie/emerging maxims. It's safe to say that anyone who cares about politics, the bible, church history, and social justice would find this a provoking read.

Muchas gracias, Shane.


you are the most of all my loves
you are a gift from heav'n above
you and me fit like a glove
you're really pretty

Thursday, March 20, 2008

timing, providence, culture, and worldview

In Greek class in seminary, my prof would always remind us that we were learning Greek words with Hebrew meanings. What I've seen recently is that this is only a slice of the pie. It is not just an amalgamation of word-meanings, but of worldview meanings.

The Hebrew worldview was very simple, family-based, grass-roots, and relationally oriented. On the other hand, the Greek worldview [Hellenism] was hugely philosophical, intellectual, pagan, and political. These are obviously over-generalizations, but bare with me. What God knew in His great wisdom is that testimonies written [the NT] from a worldview birthed by the marriage of Judaism and Hellenism would produce a message translatable to any worldview in any culture at any time and in any place. More simply put, 1st century Palestine was the most fertile soil for the Gospel to be originally planted because of its natural cultural fabric. I believe that this was the case on many fronts: political, spiritual, philosophical, theological, moral, etc.

In his book "The New Testament and the People of God" [pgs 359-360], Tom Wright seems to agree. He points out that "the single most striking thing about early Christianity is the speed of its growth." Wright continues,
Christianity did not spread by magic. It is sometimes suggested that the world was, so to speak, ready for Christianity: Stoicism was too lofty and dry, popular paganism metaphysically incredible and morally bankrupt, mystery-religions dark and forbidding, Judaism law-bound and introverted, and Christianity burst on the scene as the great answer to the question everyone was asking.
Wright goes on to say that the primary reason for the rapid spread of early Christianity was that these first Christians "believed that what they had found to be true was true for the whole world" - that Jesus was King and Lord.

good article

A recent USA Today article is entitled "Has the 'notion of sin' been lost?" Among those quoted are Al Mohler, Joel Osteen, Pope Benedict XVI, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, and others. It begins by asking,

"Is sin dead? No, not by a long shot. Yet as Easter approaches, some pastors and theologians worry: How can Christians celebrate Jesus' atonement for their sins and the promise of eternal life in his resurrection if they don't recognize themselves as sinners?"

Read the rest here.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Normal people generally write about normal stuff in the blogosphere. Here's my attempt at that because things at the Thompson apartment are good, but much change is either here or in seed form [and we're not pregnant yet, Christina].

I just started a new job. I'm painting. It's $10 an hour flat rate, no taxes out, and I can work as many or few hours as I want. Good times. All we do is talk about music, sports, women, politics, Jesus, and theology. There's also this ghetto sub shop down the road where you can get a 6-inch, a bag of chips, and a drink for $3.99. It'll bless you. I love some painting, but it's a reminder that God has wired me in another way. I guess we'll find out what that means.

We also have dear friends of ours that just got the official word that they are moving to China this summer. This is terribly upsetting because we'll miss them, but even sweeter because they're being obedient to the Spirit's call. We love you guys.

Our pet fish, Dishrag Wilberforce Thompson, is recovering from a pretty bad medical condition that he has had for several weeks. He's a trooper. Along this line, the mighty Sara needs her wisdom teeth out and a little more belly healing, but doing so much better than a couple months ago.

Our purchase of this Macbook is equally amazing and time-sucking. I suppose we're making up for all the lost time we had with no internet. I can't wait to learn Garage Band on here.

Lastly, we have begun house-hunting. Mine and Sara's lease ends in July. It would be great to be in a house by then and everybody who gives a flip enough to read this can come and help us move in! The more we have talked about it, looked at actual houses, discussed essentials, discussed price range, etc, etc, etc.... the more it hits me that buying a house is first and foremost a spiritual decision. How this truth is excluded from all seminary curriculum befuddles me.

We have to be good stewards; it's not our money. We have to think about what it is God has for us ministry-wise in 10 years. We have to think about raising up little crazy Thompsons. We have to keep in mind that "the Son of Man had no place to lay His head." He will provide. But we are drowning under the wake of capitalism, suburbia, materialism, and pseudo-spirituality. The last thing I want to do is feed one of those monsters. I think flippantly going about this can do just that. In the end, we want to be lights in this world with loose grips and yet gratitude to what we have been given. So,

We need James 3.17 wisdom and He has promised to give it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

KNOWiNG GOD & iSAiAH 45.5-6

Isaiah begins with the heavens and the earth testifying to the fact the YHWH's people don't know Him [1.3]. This is not a simple "knowing" as in how you know that 2+2=4. This is an experiential knowing. This the "Adam knew Eve" kind of knowing from Gen 4.1 [KJV, from the Hebrew yada]. This theme of "knowing" can be traced throughout the whole of Isaiah.

When YHWH speaks in Isaiah 45.5-6, there is a beautiful structure that accents the significance of this knowing.

This does not merely show the importance of this intimate kind of knowledge, but this text proves, by its structure, that this knowing is rooted in YHWH's character and exclusivity. 

Many who write theology books begin with proving the existence of God, the authority of the Scriptures, or some other foundational building block. But our good, dead buddy John Calvin began his theological opus ["The Institutes of Christian Religion"] with a chapter on knowing God. I think there is a beautiful distinction there. He began with relationship.

John Frame and Esther Meek would agree with him. Calvin said, "They that know God and know themselves cannot be proud." May it be so with us also as we pursue the kind of knowing that Israel seemed to so often lack.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

"for My own sake"

"You have not heard. You have not known. Even from long ago your ear has not been open because I knew that you would deal very treacherously and you have been called a rebel from birth. For the sake of My name, I delay My wrath. And for My praise, I restrain it from you in order not to cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act. For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another" [Is 48.8-11].

But God cannot ignore sin. It spits in the face of His goodness and makes His character as mud caked in shoe tracks. Our pride and rebellion fly in the face of His beauty and holiness. Just as He chose to restrain His wrath under the Old Covenant, He chooses to do so now as well. The reason for His restraint, however, is the same. It is the cross. For everyone who is believing, Jesus bore the wrath of God that belonged to them.

"This [the atonement] was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" [Rom 3.25-26].

And lest we think that we're worth dying for, we must remember - He did this for the sake of His name. How humbling?

You know, if you're a Jew, you don't have exclamation points, bold, caps-lock, or italics. So, when you want to emphasize something, you say it twice. Like "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" in Acts 4.4. Or like Jesus' words from the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" in Mt 27.46. Thus, in Isaiah 48, when YHWH repeats Himself concerning His intentionality in restraining His wrath, it is most assuredly and undeniably for His great name and fame.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"WORLD" iN JOHN [seeking a robust johannine biblical cosmology]

What in the heck does the Apostle John mean when he uses the word "world"? Obviously, we can't pour our understanding of that word into his. Here's the classic example.
This is the way God loved the world - He gave His only unique Son that whoever is believing in Him will not perish, but have life unto the ages. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him [3.16-17].
Now, all the Arminians and Calvinists can be up in arms about their abiblical categories that they bring to the text. Did Jesu
s die for everybody or just the elect? Please fight about that on your own time and terms. The question here is not immediately doctrinal. The question is a question of intentionality. What does John mean by "world"? Here's another good one:
My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil [7.6-7].
This seems like a different "world" than 3.16-17. Other good examples of this apparent contradiction include 4.42, 8.12, 9.39, 16.33, and 17.9-11. Is Jesus just inconsistent in how He talks? Is John inconsistent in how
he writes? What's the deal Johnny?

The deal is that this is one of John's favorite words. He uses it 78x in his gospel account. The first 4 uses come in John 1.9-10. Here, there are at least 2, probably 3 or 4, definitions of world within one breath:
There was the true Light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
With this verse, John implies that there is one world that corresponds with being enlightened; one that is social and inhabited; one that is created; and one that does not know the true Light. So, where does the saved and believing "world" of 3.16-17 fit? Where does the "world" that Jesus doesn't pray for in 17.9 fit in this?

What I want to suggest by not giving precise answers is that when we do read the Bible [which is shocking enough in itself], we read with millions of presuppositions flogging the back of the text. Because we are derived and sinful beings, they aren't going to all go away. But we must, at a bare minimum, acknowledge our presuppositions and come to the word of God on its terms and not ours.
He has stooped to reveal Himself in time, so we must humble ourselves as we seek to grasp what He has revealed. It is not an academic exercise and it is not spiritually effortless, but it is a rewarding pursuit.

Please help us, Holy Spirit.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

i spent money

Maybe it is just the small slice of OCD that has been alloted to me, but one of the most terrifying things in the world has got to be making a big fat purchase online. With the simple click of Mr Mouse, $1300 went missing from my bank account yesterday. This is, of course, huge for us. Sara and I have now been grafted into the upper echelon of trendy.

We bought a Macbook with our tax return.