Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I know way too many fellas who think reading the Puritans puts them on a higher shelf theologically. How arrogant, narrow-minded, and just plain stupid is that? Yes, the Puritans are great to read and soak in, but they also thought that in coming to America, they were ushering in God's millennial kingdom. Many of them also believed that the gifts of the Holy Spirit no longer exist. Some would even use sharp objects to nudge men awake if they fell asleep in church. The Puritans had dozens of things that should never be emulated. 

But still.

The Puritans must be beheld for their persistent piety and their dependence on God that flavored everything they wrote. It is said that Puritan New England had the highest literacy rate of any society in history. Why you might ask? Simply because they wanted their kids to be able to read the Bible.

One of my favorites is "The Doctrine of Repentance" by Thomas Watson. His whole book defines what he calls "gospel repentance." He says that "repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients." They are:
  • sight of sin
  • sorrow for sin
  • confession of sin
  • shame for sin
  • hatred for sin
  • turning from sin
In his section on sorrow for sin, Watson says that part of this sorrow comes corporately - in partaking of the Lord's Table with contrition. He says that
A repentant frame is a sacramental frame. A broken heart and a broken Christ do well agree. The more bitterness we taste in sin, the more sweetness we shall taste in Christ.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I love tracing the kingdom of God through the OT with my Redemptive History students [10th grade]. Some of them totally get it and others just write stuff down to pass the next test. We've talked about how important this idea of the kingdom is to the God's story and the storyline of the Bible.

In creation, man is described in kingly terms; creation is about the kingdom [Gn 1.26-31].

When the people sing and dance after being freed from the clutches of Pharoah, the last line of their song is about YHWH as the King of the kingdom [Ex 15.18].

The covenant YHWH makes with them at Sinai is about them becoming a kingdom of priests [Ex 19.4-6].

When they finally get into the land and struggle through 200 years of deliverers [the book of Judges], the last verse in Judges is about them lacking a king and how problematic this is for them as YHWH''s people [Jdgs 21.25].

The people then beg Samuel for a king so they can be like the other nations. YHWH tells Samuel that this is because they have rejected Him as king and have lost their vision of His call to them to be a kingdom of priests [1 Sam 8.4-7].

YHWH then initiates an unconditional covenant with David in which He promises David that one of his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandkids will be YHWH's king over His kingdom forever [2 Sam 7.8-16].

David finds these promises so sweet and good that he won't shut up about it. He wrote scores of songs rejoicing that God is King and will prove it one day in a HUGE, covenantal way! Some of these are: Ps 24.7-10, 47.5-9, 93.1-2, 95.1-5, 97.1, 99.1, 100.4, 103.19-22, 145.8-13, 149.1-14, and others.

After the kingdom split, the prophets continued to declare that God's kingship was coming in the same way David sang about. However, for those who were rebellious and did not delight in YHWH as king, His kingly coming would be judgment for them. Some of these prophetic texts are: Is 6.1-3, Is 9.6-7, Is 44.6-8, Is 52.7, Jer 23.5-6, Ezk 1-2 [the throne imagry], Ezk 34.23-24, Dan 4.34-35, Dan 7.9-22, Obad 1.21, Zeph 3.14-17, Zech 14.9-21, and others. And, like Jesus said, all the prophets prophesied until John [Mt 11.13].

But then.

He arrives.

YHWH's King. David's Son. Isaiah's Servant-King. Ezekiel's Shepherd-King.

In the NT, the first thing we have recorded from the mouth of John the Baptist and from the lips of our Lord is shattering: "Repent! The kingdom is at hand!" [Mt 3.2, Mt 4.17]

This changes everything. Roman oppression will die. YHWH's people will finally be a kingdom of priests. All covenants will be totally fulfilled. All wrongs will be righted. Justice will finally be served!

But it didn't happen exactly like they thought.

However, there is still hope [this is where it clicked for a lot of my students]. We went to Gen 1-2 and saw that in creation, the kingdom is seen in its perfection - man reigning with God, like God and for God over His created order. Then, we flipped to the end of the story in Rev 21-22. Can we see anything in the New Creation that was similair to the creation in Gen 1-2? Yes. We see man reigning and ruling with God, like God, and for God over the new heavens and the new earth.

If we know that this snapshot will be the fruit of God's gracious promises in Jesus, we must have humility and confidence to live as His kings and priests right now. This hope is the lens through which we must view the word of God and the world around us, serving the King of all kings.


My brother's latest movie review is on "Notorious." It's an excellent read. Here. Personally, I don't think Puffy can top his "I'll be Missing You/I'll Fly Away" medley.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bryan Regan


I've mentioned on here before that my brother writes excellent online movie reviews. His last few I haven't posted on here. They're great to read because they're well-written from the viewpoints of both artistry and the Christian worldview.

liturgical hope

It was quite lovely reading through Malachi in my Jewish Study Bible this morning. The footnotes are always intriguing and generally give fun insight or some sort of historical/critical commentary.

The last chapter of Malachi [two chs in most translations] tells of YHWH's people being His treasured possession [3.17], "the sun of righteousness" rising with healing in its wings [3.20 or 4.2], and "Elijah" preparing the way [3.23 or 4.5]. These texts are richly Messianic. We can see this in Mt 11.7-15, Lk 1.76-78, and elsewhere. Despite these texts being promised-filled, the book ends on a somber note of destruction [3.24 or 4.6].

However, when this passage is read in traditional Jewish liturgy, 3.23 is repeated after 3.24. This is done so that the public reading of the text would end with hope as the horizon rather than despair as the last stanza.

Moreover, this is precisely how the last verses of Lamentations [5.21-22] and Isaiah [66.23-24] are read too. In doing this, the Jewish people know that they have not TRULY returned from exile [Neh 9.36]. They know that this Second Temple cannot fully be what YHWH promised in the Davidic covenant. They are hardwired with hope, but do not believe that this hope has come in Jesus.

But the Messiah is supposed to reign and rule. The Messiah will be the spiritual and political Jewish Superhero. Messiahs don't die naked on a Roman crucifixion stick. 

Or do they?

this hangs by our front door. my mama gave it to me. it's purty.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

is there a future Israel?

Russ Moore discusses it here.


"He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright."

"aw, how sweet" or "since when did logic-defying tolerance become so cool?"

Now that president-elect Obama has an evangelical Christian doing something public for him [Rick Warren], the homosexual community and its supporters are upset. So, being a good religiously spineless politician, Obama is asking Gene Robinson [the openly-homosexual Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire] to also open in prayer for him at another gathering.

Our friend Dr Mohler is way smarter than me and has more details here.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


This phrase is used four times in Joshua 1 [1.6, 1.7, 1.9, 1.18]. Why so repetitive? 

First off, Joshua was still a new leader. He was likely shaking in his rookie boots. He saw what kind of consequences Moses had for direct disobedience.

Second, Moses was Israel's ideal leader and he had just died. Moses was prophetic, priestly, and "knew YHWH face to face" like nobody else ever has [Dt 34.10-12]. Tough act to follow.

Third, YHWH told Moses in Dt 31.16-21 that the people weren't going to be the greatest snapshot of godliness in the days to come. They were going to prostitute the covenant love of YHWH. Needless to say, Joshua wasn't leading 1,000 saints. 

Fourth, Josh's job was to conquer the promise land. This is easier said than done when those in the promise land not only out number you, but are sometimes huge Goliath-ish fellows.

An 18th century rabbi [the Vilna Gaon] maintained that "strong" referred to the body and that "courageous" referred to the emotions. Even if this is a false distinction, noticing the above four reasons why Joshua needed to hear this repeated proves that YHWH is holding out a holistic hope to Joshua. 

He does the same to us in another Joshua.

Of course, Jesus was His Greek name. Both He and rookie-warrior Joshua would have gone by the Hebrew or Aramaic "Yeshua" [meaning "YHWH is salvation"]. This new Joshua grants present hope because He leads into a promise land where there is pure and eternal rest [Heb 4.1-11].

Saturday, January 10, 2009

putting the FUN back into FUNdamentalism

Historic fundamentalism came from Christians reacting to the liberalism of 19th century. At the Niagara Bible Conference of 1895, the following list was put together to oppose how knuckled-headed and flippant many were being with what Christianity was becoming. They are the five fundamentals.
  1. the inerrancy of Scripture
  2. the deity and virgin birth of Jesus
  3. the substitutionary atonement
  4. the bodily resurrection
  5. the personal return of Christ
The words "protestant" and "christian" seem to have both lost their original flavor. The expiration date on "fundamentalism" has also passed. I wonder when/if "evangelical" will be stale and flat?

Was it Aristotle who said that a tree loses its "tree-ness" when it is given a name? When something is persistently and primarily known by title and not beheld for its beauty or essence, it begins to be weakened.

This holds true here.

But no titles will be necessary one day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

preoccupied with the trivial and peripheral

Here is a great article about how Christians in the West are over-obsessive about culture. It is a thick read, but worth the effort.
The Christian culture vultures focus on the particular and the peripheral rather than the universal and the central.
Kids' stuff - teenflicks and sex and the internet - holds centre stage in so much Christian cultural conversation, perhaps a sign of the West's obsession with all things adolescent.
Is a Christian bookstore going to make money selling a book on the Incarnation or on prayer, or one on Christian approaches to body image, or The Simpsons, or how to improve your sex life?


G. K. Chesteron lived from 1874 to 1936. He was a respected English philosopher, poet, and apologist. One day, The Times asked Chesterton, "What's Wrong with the World?" His response:

Dear Sirs,
I am.
Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, January 8, 2009

micah 3.5-12

Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray:

When they have something to bite with their teeth they cry, "Peace," but against him who puts nothing in their mouths they declare holy war. Therefore it will be night for you - without vision, and darkness for you - without divination. The sun will go down on the prophets and the day will become dark over them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners will be embarrassed. Indeed, they will all cover their mouths because there is no answer from God.

On the other hand, I am filled with power - with the Spirit of the LORD - and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin.

Now hear this, heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel who abhor justice and twist everything that is straight, who build Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with violent injustice. Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD saying, "Is not the LORD in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us." Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"the government shall be upon his shoulders"

Tom Wright on Isaiah 9.2-7 on Christmas Eve. Here.

Darrell Bock, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, I. Howard Marshall, Scot McKnight, and Richard Hays all wrote blurbs for Wright's new book on justification. Here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

here's a few more family shots from the holidays

Dad, Uncle Patrick, Deedaddy

Me, Mama

Anna, Sara

Happy Trash Can, Craft

Craft, Sara

Craft, Dundor

Sara, Me

Come Fly the Friendly Skies

"knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies" [1 Cor 8.1 and books i got for xmas]

That is the balance we must and get to hold. With that in view, here are some lovely books I was blessed with for Xmas.

"THE ART OF READING SCRIPTURE" [Davis and Hays] includes several articles I am looking forward to. Some of these ideas are the Scripture's authority in the church, reading Scripture as a coherent story, reading difficult texts, and reading in light of the resurrection. Why can't everybody else see that hermeneutics is so fun!

"KNOWING THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH THE OLD TESTAMENT" [Christopher J. H. Wright] is going to be good as well. I really I appreciate his Christocentric approach to the Scriptures.

"ANOINTED WITH THE SPIRIT AND WITH POWER: THE HOLY SPIRIT'S EMPOWERING PRESENCE" [Harvey] is by one of my Greek profs from seminary. For a super-Presbyterian to write a book on the Holy Spirit and His anointing, you know it has to be incredible. This is especially so because the academy is not in view, but the church is.

"ORTHODOXY" [Chesterton] is because I lost my old copy and never finished it. It is a poet's unfurling of his attestation to the Apostle's Creed.

"JESUS WANTS TO SAVE CHRISTIANS" [Bell and Golden] is to keep up with cutesy and pop evangelicalism. I've already finished half of this. Bell is just trying to articulate that the Bible should be read with a "new exodus" lens. It smells like evangelical liberation theology [which is a massive paradox] on some pages and smells like the gospel on others.


NT Wright is responding to his critics again [more here and here]. Good ol Johnny Piper is one of these critics who wrote debating and dialoging with him on justification. It will be good to read Wright's response just as it is good to read almost anything he writes. 

Dear Calvinists, Tom is your brother. He is not a heretic. He is smarter than you. This doesn't mean he is always right. It means that you read, seeking to be blessed by God's grace in his life. Shalom.

how to confuse a Barnes & Noble checkout girl

My atheist/agnostic brother-in-law [whom I genuinely and dearly love] and I went to Barnes & Noble and the wives went to do something girly. I can't remember what? He and I both had gift cards, which is equivalent to a couple of salivating 9-year olds set free in Toys R Us to play.

It was really funny to us and we thought that it should have been funny to our cashier. Here's what we checked out with:

We were later caught red-handed trying to out-read each other on the beach. I think it was a tie, but gosh we look good reading.

With Mikey, I enjoy our talks. He always wants me to take science more seriously and I always want him to take history more seriously. Our distinctions are not bullet points, but a completely different lens through which each of us views the world.

I know that I find patience, humility, grace, and dependence in our chats. I hope he can say that he finds intellectual stimulation and... encouragement? Hmmm? That is the friction, I believe. There are no giant ripple effects for me not being persuaded by his worldview. However, the Truth that has found me implies repercussions for not heeding its call. Of course, I'm the one who sounds like a moron here because these repercussions can't be immediately sensed or felt.

I suppose that I am out of my mind for the sake of Christ [2 Cor 5.13] and that it really is foolishness to believe what and who I believe [1 Cor 1.18-25].

I know Mikey loves me. He knows I love Him. We also know that we both disagree :)

well hello 2009

It's been a while.

Christmas was lovely. I got to see my bro. He got a Wii for Xmas and that yielded much excitement, especially watching my mom play. I love spending time with my family.

The wife and I then went to Florida for a week to be with her family. That was also super fun. You really can't complain about 79 degrees and a constant, simple breeze in December. And because Sara and I are wild and crazy, we decided to sleep through the New Year and the mind-blowing fireworks show 100 yards down the street at a little place called the Intracoastal Waterway. We can't help that we're party animals.

I would have loved to post some Xmas thoughts on here. But owell. I'll just make one and make it short because it's belated.

Isaac Watts wrote "JOY TO THE WORLD" with Genesis 3 in mind just as much as the gospels' accounts. And actually, it's not a Christmas song. When Adam and Eve sinned, part of the curse was that the earth was now "subjected to futility" [Rom 8.20] and it would breed thorns, thistles, toil, and sweat for Adam [Gn 3.17-19].

With the Second Adam, however, "No more let sin and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow as far as the curse as found." He has come and is coming to make a people to reflect Him, to be with Him, and to have dominion in the new heavens and the new earth alongside of Him.

So, here's my rock-star, beautiful little cousin with a reminder that joy is when the whole EARTH receives her King.