Monthly Archives: April 2009
Lately, I have been thinking of this blog as a sort of magazine spread out over the course of a month. Perhaps it will be helpful to provide a month’s worth of contents in one post. So… I hope to provide a monthly summary of Kingdom People at the end of each month from this point on. Here is the summary for April.
Unfashionable – Tullian Tchividjian
Lost and Found – Ed Stetzer
Introducing Paul – Michael Bird
Lost in Transmission? What We Can Know about the Words of Jesus - Nick Perrin
Fasting – Scot McKnight
The God I Don’t Understand – Christopher Wright
The Gospel of the Kingdom – G.E. Ladd
Godology – Christian George
W.H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy – James Slatton
In conversation with 20somethings and teens today, I have discovered that there is an aversion to simplistic ”Sunday School” answers to the tough passages of Scripture. Dissatisfaction with easy answers is widespread among the younger generation. Whereas previous generations prized practicality over everything else, the up-and-coming generation is looking for depth in its quest for truth.
We do not want to devote our lives to the worship of a God made in our own image. Neither do we wish to confine God to a box. Let us do business with what the Bible teaches, no matter how complex or difficult or unpleasant the journey may be.
Christopher Wright’s book, The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith is a welcome addition to a spate of recent books that demonstrate a willingness to tackle the hard questions raised by the Bible. The God I Don’t Understand is an appropriate title. Wright does not exhaustively answer the difficult questions he poses, but he shares valuable reflections that display his pastoral insight and personal piety in seeking the truth.
The God I Don’t Understand is for people who ask, “Why?”
Why did God judge the Canaanites the way he did in the Old Testament?
Why is there evil in the world?
Why do good people suffer?
Why do we have to believe this or that about the cross?
Why are there so many views about the end times?
Christopher Wright ponders these questions and then provides some insights that help clarify the issues:
“To me it is a profoundly moving thought that the word that introduces our …
James Slatton has done Southern Baptists a service by offering us a fascinating portrayal of one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s most notable (and notorious) leaders. W.H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy recounts the fascinating story of Whilliam Whitsitt, the third president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a leader who found himself at the center of a controversy that raged for the last two decades of the 1800′s.
The Whitsitt controversy surrounded a “discovery” that Whitsitt made regarding the origins of the Baptist movement. Whitsitt wrote in an encyclopedia that Baptists “invented” immersion in the 1600′s. Of course, as a Baptist himself, Whitsitt did not intend to imply that Baptists were the first to baptize adult believers, only that they recovered the practice.
But Whitsitt’s discovery came at the time when the Landmark movement was gathering steam. T.T. Eaton, B.H. Carroll and other Baptist leaders were arguing that there had been an apostolic succession of Baptist churches (and thus baptism by immersion) since the first century. Whitsitt argued that the historical documents indicate that Baptists recovered the practice and that the idea of succession could not be sustained historically.
Slatton’s biography is a fascinating look at Whitsitt’s life. Whitsitt remains a pivotal figure in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was the bridge between the founding generation and the second generation of Southern Seminary leadership.
Slatton was given access to Whitsitt’s personal documents and his “secret” diary. Surprisingly, Whitsitt comes across as quite arrogant. He calls James P. Boyce, the first president of Southern Seminary a “dunderhead.” He goes off on people who disagree with him, …
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
- Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:28)
When Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, he was not giving us an abstract unattainable ideal. By fulfilling his own commands as he died on the cross, he purchased our redemption, providing us with an example to follow and the power necessary to obey.
“Love your enemy.” This command is surely one of Jesus’ most difficult sayings. Return blessings for curses and prayer for abuse. How can we begin to obey this strong saying?
The person who gossips, spreads lies, and accuses us wrongly behind our back may truly become like an enemy to us. Our response must be to speak well of the hurtful person, thus pouring water on their fire.
The great temptation is to fight back with even harsher words, but Jesus commands us to avoid this trap by speaking blessings instead of cursing. Only love-filled speech can free us from the entanglement of hateful speech that tries to spin its web around us in hopes of dominating our conversation.
Even though the blessing we return may not stop the abuse, our only choice, according to Jesus, is prayer – not payback…
Reaching out – not retaliation…
Resolution to do good instead of resentment of the bad…
Jesus does not encourage us to fight the one who mistreats us. Instead, he demands we pray for the one who hurts us and fills our life with pain.
And nowhere do we see a better example of keeping this command …
Today, we served in two churches that are dear to our hearts. First, we went to the village church where my father-in-law pastors. It was great to see old friends again and I enjoyed the opportunity to bring a message of encouragement and challenge from God’s Word.
This afternoon, we came back to the city and I preached at Emanuel Baptist Church (pictured left). During the time we spent in Oradea, Emanuel was our “default” church whenever I happened to have a Sunday morning or evening free and was not preaching somewhere. Corina grew up in this church, so we enjoyed seeing friends that we have missed the past few years. It was also a great honor for me to be invited to speak at this church!
Thank you for praying for us on this trip. Please continue to pray for the kids. They are having a hard time with the jet lag, and by extension, we aren’t getting too much sleep either! I will be teaching at Emanuel University this week, and I look forward to spending some time with the pastoral theology students. Pray that our time is fruitful.
Lord Jesus Christ,
I pray that you may fortify me with the grace of your Holy Spirit,
and give your peace to my soul,
that I may be free from all needless anxiety and worry.
Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to you,
so that your will may be my will.
Grant that I may be free from unholy desires,
and that, for your love,
I may remain obscure and unknown in this world,
to be known only to you.
Do not permit me to attribute to myself
the good that you perform in me and through me,
but rather, referring all honor to you,
may I admit only to my infirmities,
so that renouncing sincerely all vainglory which comes from the world,
I may aspire to that true and lasting glory that comes from you. Amen
- Frances Cabrini
“Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize;
it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
Corina and I and the kids arrived yesterday in Romania for a two-week stay. The plane trip was not as difficult as we expected, but our first night here was long. The jet lag is hard on the kids (not to mention us adults!).
A few months ago, several blog readers helped us come up with the funds to translate my book, Holy Subversion, into Romanian so that I could teach the material to pastoral students here in their native tongue. I will begin teaching the contents of my book on Monday. I will also be preaching in several churches in the area this week. Tomorrow, I preach at the church where Corina’s dad pastors, as well as Emanuel Baptist in the afternoon.
We are excited to be back in Romania after a 4-year absence. It has already been wonderful to see family that we have not seen in a very long time. I ask my readers to continue praying for us as we are here – that we will have a terrific time with family and friends and that I will be able to effectively minister to the Romanian congregations and students.
Check out Ed Stetzer’s annotated bibliography on every church planting book in the English language!
22 essential words for writing cheesy Christian pop songs
Mike Wittmer on being “centered-bounded”
A good post on dealing with criticism.
Tullian on holy unction in the pulpit
Michael Bird responds to last week’s SBTS panel discussion on N.T. Wright’s new book, Justification.
Tim Challies with some personal reflections on blogging 2000 consecutive days.
Interesting article about how marketers are targeting the “older” generation.
Top Post this week at Kingdom People: Well, At Least I Had a Good Time…
Today I am posting an interview with Dr. Michael F. Bird, author of the recent book, Introducing Paul (see my review). Dr. Bird teaches New Testament at the Highland Theological College in Dingwall, Scotland.
Trevin Wax: Why do Christians need a “fresh encounter” with the Apostle Paul?
Michael Bird: In church history, times of theological renewal and religious revival have most often come from a fresh re-reading of Paul. From Augustine to Luther to Barth, Paul has often been the catalyst for huge theological shock waves that riveted through out the church.
When you read Paul, there are so many places where you find that your experience (whether that is: joy in salvation, frustrations in ministry, or even the challenges of living in a pluralistic, pagan, and permissive society) is also the experience of Paul.
Paul’s letters also present us with a “warts and all” picture of the church (especially in Galatians and the Corinthian letters). From him we learn that there really are no new problems and no new heresies, just the same one’s that get recycled over and over, and if we are to deal with those challenges in our own setting, then it is really a matter of going back to the Pauline letters.
The other reason we should read Paul is because he was the first great “missionary theologian” of the church. Most of Paul’s theology (biblical and practical theologies I should say) was done on his feet, on the move, in some cases while on the run, while on the mission field.