What did Jesus really mean?

I’m tired of hearing myself, as well as others, ask the above question as an attempt to soften the blow of what the Bible often tells us to do.

Case in point:  How many of us would actually do this?

Could it be that there actually is a way to live that is counter-cultural – that cuts across our unevaluated biases that we possess?

Maybe Jesus was on to something, and we would be wise to take Him at His word.

Fellas: what keeps us from doing this ourselves?  Thoughts, comments or other provocations…please.

Thoughts on Thursday: Good Therapy!

Mad TV Bob Newhart Skit

This is just hilarious! Had to share it…

It does provide for an interesting commentary on  how we may deal with sins and patterns in our lives.

What do you guys think?  Besides just being funny, could this be good advice to listen to when dealing with sin and our sanctification?

Monday Stuff

Here are some links to recent articles and posts I have found interesting over this past week on the web:

Tim Challies reviews Bart Ehrman’s new book God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer.  Worth checking out (especially if you won’t read Ehrman’s book on its own).  I always find Tim’s reviews helpful.  Plus his sight The Discerning Reader is a great site and resource.

Graeme Goldsworthy lectures at Southern Seminary on the necessity and application of Biblical Theology – both in the seminary and the pulpit. (I admit, I have not listened to these yet, but I plan to this week). [Thanks to Justin Taylor for the link].

There’s an interesting post on how to assess and interview potential missional community leaders, thanks to Drew Goodmason of Kaleo Church in San Diego (Acts 29).  I find Drew’s thoughts extremely insightful as a would be church planter in the somewhat foreseeable future.

This was actually a very insightful and helpful post from Zen Habits, on Emotional Intelligence. I usually think I am emotionally aware of myself and everyone else around me.  Time and experience continues to prove me wrong.  These little things help from time to time.

Oh yeah…and Tim Keller’s newest new book.  No, not this book, but this one.

Review: Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll

driscollLet me commend to everyone who reads this blog the book Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll and co-Authored with Gerry Breshears. I have mentioned it in some previous posts (here), but want to take the time to give you all a brief synopsis, and my take on why I think it would be worth your time reading. First, my synopsis.

This book does a fantastic job at doing systematic theology regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ with the typical, everyday skeptic or new Christian in mind – and that is invaluable! After having just taken a seminary class on the subject (Christ and Salvation), I must say that I was hard pressed to select one of the many books we had to read as a good resource to put in the hands of somebody either questioning Christianity or recently brought into the family of God regarding this important, and sometimes daunting, subject.

Driscoll’s book does an excellent job, first identifying the major questions and point of discussion. The book is oriented around 12 key questions; they are:

Chapter 1 Is Jesus the Only God?

Chapter 2 How Human Was Jesus?

Chapter 3 How Did People Know Jesus Was Coming?

Chapter 4 Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

Chapter 5 Why Did Jesus’ Mom Need to Be a Virgin?

Chapter 6 What Did Jesus Accomplish on the Cross?

Chapter 7 Did Jesus Rise from Death?

Chapter 8 Where Is Jesus Today?

Chapter 9 Why Should We Worship Jesus?

Chapter 10 What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?

Chapter 11 What Difference Has Jesus Made in History?

Chapter 12 What Will Jesus Do upon His Return?vintagejesus.jpg

Each chapter then discusses the controversy (or controversies) surrounding these questions, both in their historical and contemporary setting. Spread throughout the chapters are various quotes or insights that are pulled from not only the Christian tradition, but from pop culture and other religions. Driscoll then does an excellent job pointing to scripture and what the Bible says regarding these questions and various interpretations, or problems, we may have. Dr. Breshears then concludes each chapter with a most helpful FAQ that probes into a handful of subquestions that fall under each larger question. This format makes this a great resource for 99% of the people who would be interested and who walk through the doors of your church, or favorite local coffee shop or pub.

Now, some people may be put off by one of two things, or perhaps, both: 1) Systematic Theology, or 2) Mark Driscoll. First, regarding the Systematic Theology. I know its en vogue to question or downplay the significance of Sys. Theology these days in favor of Biblical Theology, but that really is a shame. I am personally of the opinion that we vitally need both. We need our Biblical Theology to help inform our Systematic Theology, and we need our Systematic Theology to help understand our Biblical Theology. That being said, this book is a welcome Systematics book which keeps the story of Scripture alive and in view, while being relevant and thorough in probing the subject of Christology.

Orthodox Art - CrucixionNow, for those put off by the fact that its Mark Driscoll, let me say that there are several Driscoll-isms that come through in this book, and you may not like that. I would encourage you to still read this book and ask: “Does this book communicate the truths of Christ’s person and work in a way that is true to Scripture, honoring to God, edifying to believers, and accessible to non-believers?” I think for anytime we find ourselves criticizing another brother for his personality or style, if we can slow down to consider those questions, we would be better served than making quick conclusions. I believe that Driscoll comes out on top regarding all of those questions.

I wanted to read Vintage Jesus for a very selfish reason (And no, its not because I like reading everything Driscoll puts out – even though I do!): I wanted to understand how to communicate theology in a way that is faithful to scripture and engaging to non-Christians. Having read Vintage Jesus, I can say that I have a somewhat better understanding of how to do so, and for that, I am grateful. This is why I commend this book to you – whoever you are!

Whether you are a believer wanting to be challenged and strengthened in understanding the person and work of Jesus Christ, or a a seminarian looking to be challenged in how to communicate the truths of Scripture, or a non-Christian questioning how any rational human being could believe in such a story that centers on this one person, your time will be well served by reading this book.

My personally favorite part of this book is the section Driscoll deals with the fact that “Jesus was a dude.” Great stuff – funny, insightful and challenging. The book is scattered with great content communicated in witty ways. I again, highly recommend this book to you.

Leadership Maxims

During a week-long class on Pastoral Leadership taught by Harry Reeder, III of Briarwood Presbyterian Church down in Birmingham, AL, I was challenged and encouraged to begin to use maxims – short, memorable sayings – in order to communicate various principles of leadership.

Here is my running list (at least the start of my list).  Do any of you out there have a few of your own you’d probably add? Leave me a comment:

1. Pack your big rocks first.

2. Character counts – then Content, Competency.

3. Never take counsel from your fears.

4. Be strong in grace, not for grace.

5. Leaders are not know-it-alls, but they are learners.

6. We are born imitators – find models & mentors.

7. Form follows function, then you fill what you form!

8. Push decision making down (as far as possible).

9. Trust the people & the processes.

10. Start out as a Team, not as Loyal Opposition.

11. Don’t expect a baby without the labor pains.

12. Convert your negative situations into positive experiences – step up & lead.

13. Don’t handle spiritual problems functionally or functional problems spiritually.

14. Good leadership learns from the past, contextualizes in the present, & effects change for the future.

15. Have a plurality of unified individuals around you (i.e.Team).

16. Most overnight successes were 20 years in the making

Great Art and Transcendent Beauty

Sigur Ros – GlósóliThis is what music and art is supposed to do. Capture beauty and imagination in a way that transcends words (at least words we readily understand).After watching this, I can’t think of how to describe this song or this band. I admit, I teared up (a little). A friend mentioned this video to me last night and he expressed this question, “What would it be like for some of our corporate worship as the church to capture some of this same sense of awe, wonder, and beauty that Sigur Ros elicits with their music, and this video wonderfully captures?”I have not got the first clue how to answer that question…but I want to ponder it. Until then, enjoy, and listen to more Sigur Ros!

Thoughts on Thursday (on Friday) – Geerhardus Vos Quote

Ok, its a day late, but here is a great quote to ponder and meditate on.  It comes from Geerhardus Vos – the father of Biblical Theology – by way of the blog Of First Importance:

“In a broad sense the Old Testament was the economy of conviction of sin. The law revealed the moral helplessness of man, placed him under a curse, worked death. There was, of course, gospel under and in the Old Covenant, but it was for its expression largely dependent on the silent symbolic language of alter and sacrifice and lustration. Under it the glory which speaks of righteousness was in hiding.

In the New Covenant all this has been changed. The veil has been rent, and through it an unobstructed view is obtained of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And with this vision comes the assurance of atonement, satisfaction, acces to God, peace of conscience, liberty, eternal life.”

- Geerhardus Vos, Grace & Glory (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 96-97

Reading Habits Because I’ve Been Tagged

Well, I’ve been officially initiated into the world of blogging. A couple of months back Stephen over in the Deep South (Africa, to be exact) “tagged” me regarding my reading habits. Since its a snow day, I thought I would finally answer! (Sorry for the delay Stephen).

Onto who I would now tag: Grant Owens, Jeremy Carr, Dave Lindberg, Gavin Ortlund, Jared Lee, and Todd Gwennap. How would you answer the following:

One Book that changed your life:

Abide in Christ1) Abide in Christ, Andrew Murray – great, classic book dealing with the Christian’s communion with the living God! Greatly encouraging, invigorating read!

2) Children of the Living God, Sinclair Ferguson - I can never just narrow these things down to 1 book. Ferguson’s book on the doctrine of Adoption is absolutely incredible. Clear and compelling. I can think of no other book (other than Abide in Christ that has helped me understand more what it means to be a child of God (i.e. Christian).

One book that you’ve read more than once

Genesis 1-41) Anything by N.T. Wright – because I don’t get him right away!

2) Genesis 1-4, John C. Collins – Mostly because Dr. Collins requires this for every class he teaches! (But, its also really, really good too.)

One book that you’d want on a desert island

Mission of God1) The Bible (ESV) – What kind of a pastor would I be if I didn’t say this? But if you want to know what one book other than the Bible…

2) Anything by John Owen – as I would finally have time to really read and digest Owen. And since I’m alone on an island, it would be pointless to say Mission of God by Christopher J.H. Wright, wouldn’t it?

2 Books that made you laugh:

Sex, Drugs, Cocoa Puffs1) Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman – Oh man, I couldn’t stop reading it. Very, very funny, as well as insightful. Don’t read if you’re uptight on language (just a friendly warning).

2) Confessions of a Reformission Reverend, Mark Driscoll – Very honest and candid reflections on the life of a young church planter. I think I starting laughing at the Table of Contents, and didn’t stop throughout the rest of the book. Its a rare book that both has you holding your stomach because your laughing, and at the same time, challenging your life at the same time. This was one of those for me.

One book that made you cry

New Testament and the Peopel of God1) I don’t read books that make me cry (That’s what movies are for); but if you’re making me answer…

2) The New Testament People of God, N.T. Wright – because after reading the first 300 pages of the book, I found out my professor’s were only requiring us to read the last 300 pages!!!

One book you wish had been written

1) You Believe That? Historical Theology and Those Who Love Their Doctrines, For God Only Knows Why

One book you are currently reading:

The Reason for God1) The Reason for God, Tim Keller – Its Keller, of course I’m reading it.

2) On Being Presbyterian, Sean Lucas – Because I’m having denominational identity issues (Sort of…).

One book you’ve been meaning to read:

Biblical Theology1) Biblical Theology, Geerhardus Vos - everybody lately has been talking about Vos, and Biblical Theology (vs. Systematic Theology). I figure I’m getting enough of the Systematics, so why not try to get some of the other stuff. Problem is finding the time, or, re-arranging the time to allow for more reading.