Sunday, February 28, 2010

God is so good. I made it home last night to my beautiful wife and my happy-and-clapping son! We had a wonderful evening together talking over dinner @ Panera. (Amazingly, both my flights were NOT canceled—a miracle in and of itself. God is good.)

But now I'm reviewing for my sermon this morning on Hebrews 1:1-5 - the Sovereignty of the Supreme Son!

I'm geared up, locked, loaded, and ready to let the fire out. God, give me gentleness, grace and gospel-driven passions.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
—Luke 14:25-27

Friday, February 26, 2010

Last night I started and this morning I rushed to finish Doug Pagitt's work on Preaching Re-Imagined.

You can read and download the full 6-page pdf critique here.

But here is my conclusion...

It is my plea that all preachers and congregants—yes, all Christians—reject Pagitt’s philosophy of “progressional preaching” or “dialoguing”. He rejects the biblical practice and command of preaching–even though the command couldn’t be more clear as coming by the sovereign authority and command of God Himself—in order to cater to others because he thinks that a new method will work. This is flat out to be rejected. It is, unfortunately, Pagitt’s way of seeking to ‘please men’ rather than ‘pleasing Christ’. He is, therefore, not honoring the LORD in what he calls leading people in the ‘way of Jesus’ (cf. Gal 1:10). Whether preaching seems to work or not from our perspective we must never—ever—reject the commands of God because we think that new methods, a new cultural demand, or hearing others’ opinions will do the job that preaching just couldn’t accomplish! How haughty a thought. May we be Christians who seek to please Christ (2 Cor 5:10) by loving and longing to hear His Word faithfully proclaimed and preached with all authority (2 Tim 4:2-4). Let us say with David: “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps 119:97). Let us long for the pure word of God, for the faithful and urgent, and passionate, and expository preaching of God’s Word just as newborn babes long for milk (1 Pet 2:2).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This week has been one of the most challenging weeks thus far in my PhD program—not in terms of busywork necessarily but in terms of really thinking through the issues. I'm taking a course now on Advanced Bible Teaching Methods (some of you are saying ... "finally!"). Nevertheless, I have been confronted with this issue: should we incorporate dialogue into our Sunday morning preaching? In other words, is there a place for "conversation"? In Sunday morning services?

I preached today in my class and one of the first comments from my professor was this question: "how come you didn't interact with us verbally?" Up to this course, I have been quite convinced that the sermon is a heralding forth of divine truth from the preacher to the hearer. And, frankly, I'm still firmly committed to this truth. Yet, I have been confronted with differing opinions suggesting that we should engage people by interacting with them in our sermons (not that it HAS to be done this way, but it certainly is, perhaps, more effective)... or is it?

I did some research tonight and here are some helpful quotes on preaching:

There is an heraldic element in preaching. The Bible sometimes envisages other forms of oral communication, of course: we may be invited to reason together with the Lord (Isa 1:18), for instance, or enter into a dialogical confrontation with Him (e.g., Mal 1:2-8; Rom 6:1-2). Yet in the oft-repeated “Thus says the LORD” of the oT, or in the proclamation so common to the NT, there is an unavoidable heraldic element—an announcement, a sovereign disclosure, a nonnegotiable declaration (DA Carson).


Expository preaching is: “the only form of authentic Christian preaching." The heart and soul of expository preaching … is reading the Word of God and then explaining it to the people so that they understand it. [And,] If you do believe that God speaks though His Word, then why would you substitute anything else in place of the expository preaching of the Bible? What is more important for your people than to hear from God, and how else is that going to happen unless you, like Ezra, open the book, read it, and explain it to them (Albert Mohler).

And finally,

Without the Word, no sermon. If what the minister proclaims are human insights, however perceptive—mere human words even though they are pearls of wisdom—what is happening is not what the Bible regards as preaching. In the strict sense of the term, authentic preaching is expository preaching ... “exposition means a “setting forth.” In expository preaching the sermon “sets forth” or “exhibits” the truth of the selected biblical text. Such preaching represents the assertions of the text in the form of a sermon. The sermon must say what the text says" (James Daane).

In light of this, I went to the library and checked out Doug Pagitt's most recent work on preaching: Preaching Re-Imagined: The Role of the Sermon in Communities of Faith. I'm going to read this and see how this relates to my class and my own thinking.

I know my responsibility is to preach God's Word faithfully and accurately from the Word of God to the hearers in the pew. But is there a way that I can engage them even more during a Sunday morning sermon? That's the fundamental question I'm after...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Folks, this is a must watch...

“Let us beware of despising preaching. In every age of the Church, it has been God’s principal instrument for the awakening of sinners and the edifying of saints. The days when there has been little or no preaching have been days when there has been little or no good done in the Church. Let us hear sermons in a prayerful and reverent frame of mind, and remember that they are the principal engines which Christ Himself employed when He was upon earth. Not least, let us pray daily for a continual supply of faithful preachers or God’s Word. According to the state of the pulpit will always be the state of a congregation and of a Church.”

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts On the Gospels, Volume 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007), 128-129.

HT: Passion for Preaching

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Every once and a while a PhD student is allowed to laugh hard. And I was watching golf this afternoon (which was quite boring) but one commercial made me crack up!

Watch it here!

This morning I visited Grace Baptist Church in Glenburn, PA and was greatly edified by a new hymn. You can sing it to the tune of: "Take my Life and Let It Be." It was written in 1817 by Ralph Wardlaw and is entitled: Christ, of all my hopes the Ground.

Christ, of all my hopes the Ground;
Christ, the Spring of all my joy;
Still in Thee may I be found,
Still for Thee my powers employ,
Still for Thee my powers employ.

Let Thy love my heart inflame;
Keep Thy fear before my sight;
Be Thy praise my highest aim;
Be Thy smile my chief delight,
Be Thy smile my chief delight.

When affliction clouds my sky,
And the wintry tempests blow,
Let Thy mercy beaming eye
Sweetly cheer the night of woe.
Sweetly cheer the night of woe.

When new triumphs of Thy Name
Swell the raptured songs above,
May I feel a kindred flame,
Full of zeal, and full of love!
Full of zeal, and full of love!

Life’s best joy, to see Thy praise
Fly on wings of Gospel light,
Leading on millennial days,
Scattering all the shades of night!
Scattering all the shades of night!

Fountain of overflowing grace,
Freely from Thy fullness give;
Till I close my earthly race,
May I prove it “Christ to live!”
May I prove it “Christ to live!”

When, with wasting sickness worn,
Sinking to the grave I lie,
Or, by sudden anguish torn,
Startled nature dreads to die,
Startled nature dreads to die.

Jesus, my redeeming Lord,
Be Thou then in mercy near!
Let Thy smile of love afford
Full relief from all my fear,
Full relief from all my fear.

Firmly trusting in Thy blood,
Nothing shall my heart confound;
Safely I shall pass the flood,
Safely reach Emmanuel’s ground,
Safely reach Emmanuel’s ground.

When I touch the bless├Ęd shore,
Back the closing waves shall roll;
Death’s dark stream shall never more
Part from Thee my ravished soul,
Part from Thee my ravished soul.

Thus, O thus, an entrance give
To the land of cloudless sky;
Having known it “Christ to live,”
Let me know it “gain to die,”
Let me know it “gain to die.”

This morning I had breakfast with a fellow PhD student who is from Myanmar (if you don't know where that is, it's OK, I didn't either). He just finished all his coursework and is now studying for all his "comps" (=comprehensive reading exams) and then he'll embark upon his dissertation. This is now my second time here to BBS for courses and the second time that Kim and I have been able to talk theology and talk about his home country.

Kim wants to return home and start a seminary in his country. He told me this morning that Myanmar has 35million people and is 6% Christian (but, only 1% is Bible-believing, conservative Christian!). He wants to go back and teach pastors how to study their Bibles and how to preach. I have asked him what the greatest challenge is to the church in Myanmar and he said without hesitation: hermeneutics. He said that people just don't know how to read and interpret their Bible. You can imagine hearing sermons like this week in and week out. Inasmuch as many men don't know how to properly study and preach God's Word, His Spirit sovereignly still uses His Word to save souls!

What a great opportunity to us to partner with Kim in sending men over there for one week teaching modules at his seminary—expository preaching, hermeneutics, OT survey, NT survey, etc. Perhaps God may open a door for me to go over to his country and help him in his seminary there by preaching a week-long module to men who, Kim says, are 'hungry' for the Word of God.

Good reminder that we serve and worship a global God. He is the King of the nations!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This article by Dr. Rosscup gave me much encouragement this morning as I meditated on the need for preachers to bathe in prayer and the ministry of the Word (cf. Acts 6:4).

I have found that it's all too easy to grapple with the original languages, the theological intricacies, the historical ramifications, and the practical applications that I sometimes neglect the diligent and pervasive and (most!) important element of prayer and intercession. How could we expect to preach God's Word without engaging in fellowship with Him who has the power to drive our words home to the hearer's hearts!? Let us be reminded of the necessity of prayer in preparation, preaching, and persistent application by this marvelous statement. Quoting EM Bounds, Rossup writes:

"The young preacher has been taught to lay out all his strength on the form, taste, and beauty of his sermon as a mechanical and intellectual product. We have thereby cultivated a vicious taste among the people and raised the clamor for talent instead of grace, eloquence instead of piety, rhetoric instead of revelation, reputation and brilliancy instead of holiness" (34).

Rosscup, James E. "The Priority of Prayer in Preaching." The Master's Seminary Journal 2, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 21–44.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shaun White is a 'mac-daddy'...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This is not a derogatory term for anyone. This is, rather, the current condition of my brain. I feel as though it's fat and on the verge of bursting! Today Dr. Decker lectured for about seven hours on the NT's use of the OT. Today was the laying of the groundwork in the whole debate. It was very definitional and setting the parameters whereas tomorrow we'll dig into the texts.

One thing I know for sure. The NT authors quoted the OT with integrity and we must interpret the Scriptures seeking to understand the meaning in and authorial intent from the text.

I am thankful for God's Word and that we can study His Word and understand the truths revealed there.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You shall love the LORD your God

with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your might.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them

when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way,
and when you lie down,
and when you rise.

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Did I mention that it has been snowing here in (COLD) Pennsylvania yet in my blog posts? Well, it hasn't stopped snowing since my LAST post. In fact, just to tell you how dangerous (and fun!) it is, I was walking with two different men today (one on the way to class this morning and one on the way to lunch this afternoon) and BOTH of them slipped on the ice (one fell and the other did a nice ice-skating-type-pose "shuffle"). I refrained from laughing. I do find it quite amusing that I didn't end up on my rear. I guess I owe that to my hockey days; the balance must still be with me (!).

Enough of the trivial matters, this morning I had my 1.5 hour presentation on Hebrews 1:5 and its usage of the Old Testament. I taught for 1 hour and 27 minutes and left three minutes for discussion at the end. The guys were super gracious and we had a great 3 minute discussion. I think that it went well. Thanks so much for praying. I was slightly intimidated in going first for the presentations but God gave a greater grace to those in need (ME!).

Tonight I'm studying for THREE more presentations I have to give NEXT week for my course. Then, I'm going to walk back down the hill (=perhaps I may "shuffle"—intentionally or unintentionally!) to get my $1 coffee and then head back to my dorm room.

That leads me to one final thought. I have a leak in my room. My window that overlooks a snow-covered field is now leaking water INSIDE my dorm room. I solved the problem by putting the trash can there to gather the water. Two men from my PhD class thought it'd be helpful (Ha—and funny!) to OPEN my window and let some of the 'cool' (like 20 degrees 'cool') weather in my dorm room. Thanks guys.

We have lots of fun. I conclude with one final note of utmost importance...

Tonight I had a Krisby Kreme doughnut before dinner. AND, I have one more Krisby Kreme doughnut sitting on my desk waiting for me upon my arrival at the dorm room!

God has truly been good to me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

If you're a Christian, you should read this. If you think you're a Christian, you should read this. If you're not a Christian, you should still read this to see how Christians should be living.

Do not believe that the common Christianity of the present age will carry anybody to heaven. It is a counterfeit and a sham. It does not make men to differ from their fellows, it pretends to faith and has none, talks about love and does not show it, brags of truth and evaporates it into thin air in its latitudinarian charity.

God give us back the real thing—stimuli, strong belief in the gospel, real faith in Jesus, real prayer to him, real spiritual power.

Then again there will be persecution, but it will only blow away the chaff and leave the pure wheat!

The world likes us better because we like the world better; it calls us friends because we doff our colors and sheathe our swords and play the craven; but if we preach and live the gospel in the old apostolic way, we shall soon have the devil roaring round the camp and the seed of the serpent hissing on all sides, but we fear not, for "the Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."

—CH Spurgeon

HT: Phil Johnson
This morning started our first day of the "internal residency" which means that all of us in the class (only six of us) meet with our prof (Dr. Decker) to go over our readings and give presentations regarding our work for the 2nd part of the course.

Today consisted of five book reviews of 45 minutes each and discussion. I gave my review of Hays' Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. Good book—but the historical critical ideologies permeate the book. The presentation went well and God is good.

Tomorrow I'm first up for an hour and a half presentation on Hebrews 1:5 (the 2 verses quoted by Auctor [the name by which I affectionately like to call the anonymous author]—Ps 2:7 and 2 Sam 7:14). I've got the powerpoint (actually, "keynote") ready and all my notes prepared. I'm ready for this one and excited for the rest of the week and the interaction with these Godly (and much older!) men!

Again, tonight, I walked out of the cafeteria to find snow falling from the sky. In fact, I heard that there is a "severe winter warning" in effect for Clarks Summit tonight (not sure what that means, but to me, a Californian, severe winter warning + snow = FUN!). It just may demand that I go to the on-campus coffee-shop again (man, that'll be day #2 in a row!) and purchase my coffee for $1 and walk in the snow! (Ah, can't do that too often in LA.)

God is good. If you think of me, pray for me tomorrow at 10am (EST) as I give my 1.5 hour presentation on Hebrews 1:5. Pray for wisdom, guidance, direction, and accuracy as I speak and exegete these passages for the men.

"Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; His covenant-love endures forever!" —Ps 136:1

Sunday, February 14, 2010

After a long day of traveling and some clear evidences of God's providence I made it safely to my dorm room here at Baptist Bible Seminary for my two weeks of PhD modules. My friend Paul picked me up at the airport and then we hit up Taco Bell (a good way to say 'welcome' to your new roommates!). And then I unpacked and four of us from our NT intertextuality class walked to the campus coffee shop (they have a white mocha that is just as good as Starbucks!). After we hung out there, we stepped back outside to find it snowing! Praise the LORD for 20 degree weather! (Note: it was almost 80 degrees back home in LA today.)

God is good. More updates to come throughout the week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Today I was coming home from the seminary and had an interesting encounter with three people I've seen before on the bus.

First, there's the guy who talks 84 mph and has two friends who all get tgoether great on the bus. But then when this guy gets off the bus, his two friends bag him and ridicule him for talking so much about nothing worthwhile. It's a good lesson on how easy (and harsh) the sin of backbiting is. God protect us from that heinous sin.

Second, there's the FEDEX lady who cussed me out on the bus because I was studying my sermon notes. This was a number of months ago. I finally turned to her and said: You need to wash your mouth and watch what comes out of it! I don't feel unsafe on the LA metro bus ever but that was one of the few times I felt like I could have gotten pounded—and that from a woman (yea verily, a FEDEX woman!). It's another good lesson on the power of the tongue/words.

Third, there's a high school girl named Katherine. We get on the bus at the same stop and she gets off just a few stops before I exit at the seminary. Today, we sat next to each other on the bus and she said: "I always see you reading a book!" (Ha, what a marvelous complement!) We struck up a conversation and I began to ask her questions. I know she goes to St. Genevieve High School (obviously, a Catholic School). She's a junior and as I began to probe about her interests I found out she is an altar server and she is very proud of the fact that she can serve her priest every Sunday morning at the 7:30am service! Then she proceeded to tell me about how she's been going to "confirmation classes" on Tuesday nights and has been memorizing all the prayers. As we were getting off the bus I said: "I bet it's quite easy to just recite those prayers quite heartlessly without even thinking about what you're saying, huh?" She nodded and acknowledged in affirmation. It's a good less on the wickedness of heartless worship.

Did I fail to mention, I love being chauffeured on the LA public bus system?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A few random thoughts as I embark upon my studies for the day...

I am reading through Leviticus in my quiet times and I'm reacquainted with the reality that God is holy and anything or anyone defiled is unholy and MUST be cleansed before entering the "community" or "God's presence again. I think we would do well to meditate on this simple truths and apply it to our lives so that we live holy and are pure and acceptable before Him.

I'm reading books on the NT use of the OT. I have never been more overwhelmed with such a vast (and confusing) subject at times. I find myself bewildered at the NT's usage of the OT. Nevertheless, I still am convinced that they must have quoted them with integrity for the original contexts (and not simply using them as 'proof-texts').

Tonight we are having a praise & worship night at Church. Anyone is welcome to attend. It's an hour of hymns, worship songs, and Scripture readings as we reorient our focus toward the Cross and our Savior.

I'm leaving in a few days for Pennsylvania and am hoping that I can get there on Sunday because the weather says it's supposed to snow there on Sunday—yikes!

God gave me such a (timely!) encouragement on Sunday. A young senior in high school gave me a note expressing her appreciation for her pastors who faithfully preach and teach God's Word every week. That is, hands down, the best encouragement anyone could ever get. Praise God.

Friday, February 5, 2010

All High School seniors and College students are invited to join us this year (this is the trailer from the 2009 conference but it gives you an idea of what goes on there).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One of the books I'm currently preaching through is Revelation. I just laughed in agreement when I read this quote:

Many good and faithful preachers rank preaching on apocalyptic texts alongside handling serpents; they have heard that people do it, but they have no desire to come anywhere near them"
—Larry Paul Jones and Jerry L. Sumney.

How (dissapointingly) true it is!

Monday, February 1, 2010

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