Archive for May, 2008

Waiting with Great Thanksgiving

May 25, 2008

photo by BB Rogers Photography

My wife and I are expecting our first child on June 13 (give or take two weeks). As the day draws nearer, it seems like there is an increasing amount of opportunities for thanksgiving to our great God in this precious gift of life. This, of course, only testifies to my former blindness. Opportunities for thanksgiving are increasing only because I did not see them before and the Lord has graciously been opening my eyes to behold his abundant kindness in the conception of and anticipation for this child. Not only has he done so through the reading of his word, but also and more recently through the love expressed from the body of Christ. They have lavished us with prayer, clothing, time, money, and other gifts that will aid in the rearing of our baby. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to watch a network of love amongst the women in our local church body (Redeemer), who often go to great lengths to supply clothes, equip with wisdom, and encourage in the word my wife and each other during pregancy and after they have given birth. What a joy to be a part of this time, and even more, to have my eyes opened.

“So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son” (Ruth 4:13).

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:20).

Quote of the Week: Jim Hamilton on Christ, the Apostles, and the Old Testament

May 16, 2008

This week, I received Southern Seminary‘s Spring issue of The Tie, their quarterly school magazine. The theme of this issue is “Understanding Scripture in Light of Christ.” It includes some excellent articles written by their faculty and other pastors. Dr. Jim Hamilton has contributed a very helpful article entitled, “New Testament: Christ Revealed,” in which he submits that Jesus “modeled the interpretation of the Old Testament pursued by the apostles and others who wrote the books of the New Testament” (11). In short, Jesus used the same method of interpretation as the Old Testament writers, the apostles learned from him, and taught the church to do the same. Hamilton concludes his article by exhorting the church to read and re-read their Bibles. In doing so, he is convinced (and here is the quote of the week) that

…the more we will see that the Old Testament is a messianic document, written from a messianic perspective in order to provoke and sustain messianic hope, and the New Testament claims that these hopes are fulfilled in Jesus and the church (11).

Excellent. To see a review he recently wrote concerning a similar issue click here.

Sex, Romance, & The Glory of God

May 10, 2008

Mahaney, C. J. Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. 139 pp.

Husbands often forsake or ignore the delightful duty of romance God has ordained for them to share often and well with their wives. As far as intimacy goes, sex is often the primary concern of many husbands to the neglect of both the romance God has designed her to receive and perhaps even the celebration God has intended it to be for his glory. In Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God, C. J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, promotes a biblical understanding of not only the intimacy shared in the bedroom (glorious as God has created it), but also the romance that ought always and persistently to precede it. As he susinctly repeats throughout the book, “Before you touch her [your wife’s] body, touch her heart and mind.”

Mahaney begins with a biblical understanding of sex, being sure to highlight that it is part of God’s good creation and a result of his wise design for the marriage relationship. For this reason, it ought to be celebrated to his glory and used often to both serve and strengthen the marriage relationship. With repeated reference to the Song of Songs, and explanations accompanied by good Christian scholarship, he shows how this book both aides in and grants hope for the fruitfulness of biblical intimacy in the husband’s relationship to his wife.

Before Mahaney tackles the “sex chapter”, however, he first emphasizes the role and responsibility of the husband in learning, leading, and loving his wife. To put it plainly, great sex is the result of a healthy, intimate, covenant relationship that is cultivated long before a married couple enter the bedroom. With some of the most godly wisdom, practical suggestions, and humble exhortations, Mahaney devotes several chapters to ensure husbands are aware of their responsibilities in studying their wife (i.e. deliberately being interested in, knowing, and understanding all aspects of their physical and spiritual well-being), leading her in a godly marriage relationship (e.g. in theological knowledge, with spirtual disciplines, and toward closer levels of intimacy), and loving her with biblical affections (e.g. by kindling romance or winning her with “carefully composed words”).

His book concludes with an exhortation for husbands to “let the unifying, unquenchable power of covenant love continually strengthen your marriage in every way, that you and your wife mighty testify to the world and to one another the goodness of God” (104). An added bonus for the wife is also included at the end. This short chapter is titled, “A Word to Wives from Carolyn Mahaney” (which is also called “The Purity of Pleasure”, chapter 5 in her book Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother).

Overall, Mahaney’s work is well worth every Christian husband’s read. It is biblical, thoughtful, and practical. It is also a fairly quick read, one well worth repeated readings throughout the marriage (I just finished my second.). It supplies husbands with a biblical understanding of sex, romance, and their design to glorify God in marriage intimacy, and provides excellent advice/ideas that will cotinually strengthen the relationship.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

May 9, 2008

Our (Redeemer Church’s) Minister of Worship, Gary Brumley, has arranged an old him of William Cowper’s, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” which our assembly has enjoyed singing as we walk our way through Ecclesiastes. Lately, it has been both a song in my heart and fuel for my prayers throughout the week. I have provided a link (here) for you to listen to a demo as you carefully read the lyrics below. It is a great joy for me to see the Lord gift musicians like Gary who seek to saturate the church with sound doctrine in song. What a great opportunity I have to make this post #100. May your ears and heart be blessed.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
You fearful saints, fresh courage take:
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

O, bless the Lord with heart and soul,
Let all within me sing
And trust the wisdom of my God,
My Father, Lord, my King.

With deepest wisdom, highest love,
And never failing skill
He masterminds His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

O, bless the Lord with heart and soul,
Let all within me sing
And trust the purpose of my God,
My Father, Lord, my King.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

O, bless the Lord with heart and soul,
Let all within me sing
And trust the goodness of my God,
My Father, Lord, my King.

Ending
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
God hides his smiling face.

Original Words by William Cowper (altered). Public Domain.
Additional lyrics and music by Gary Brumley. © 2007 New Moniker Music.
http://www.newmonikermusic.com

 

Indeed, They Will Come to the Son!

May 5, 2008

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:35-40).

In these verses we find two great truths. (1) Eternal life is given only to those who meet the condition of coming to, looking upon, and believing in Jesus, the Son of God. (2) The Father guarantees that some will meet this condition; namely, those he gives to the Son in order that (as a result of his mission) he will raise them up on the last day.

What the Father demands in his Gospel by the former, he also supplies in his Gospel by the latter. Here then, does the church not only find hope in their efforts in missions and evangelism (i.e. sinners whom the Father gives the Son will come), but also promise in that it is impossible for the Son of God to fail his Father’s mission in raising every last one of them up on the last day. By the Father’s will they will come to the Son, and he will raise them up on the last day.

Let us preach and pray, therefore, and behold the fruit of the Son’s mission to accomplish all the Father has given him. 

Plans & Purposes for PhD Work

May 4, 2008

A dear friend of mine, Jon, made a motion that I should write a post regarding my future plans and purposes in PhD work. My brother has now seconded that motion, and so, below you will find five answers to the questions Jon asked me to share. Having known Jon, and his thoughtfulness and persistent prayerfulness, I am sure this motion has a far wider purpose than just to inform one person of our plans, but to unite a body of brothers and sisters around us in prayer and encouragement to bring about the Lord’s purposes in us all for his church and the world.

Where will you be living for the next couple of years and why? (i.e. Where are you studying your Ph.D.?)

Starting in August, I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament studies with a minor in Old Testament. According to Southwestern’s recommended course of study, this degree will take me another 4 ½ years to complete. Rachel and I are both excited about remaining at this institution and humbled by what the Lord has placed before us. 

What would you like to study in the Ph.D. program and why?

I wish to pursue the Ph.D. in New Testament because I am deeply interested in research of the New Testament documents, biblical Greek, and issues surrounding New Testament theology. In accomplishing my M.Div. at Southwestern, I spent all of my electives on courses in or related to the New Testament. Each semester I grew not only in my knowledge of the field, but in my love for God’s new-covenant revelation in Christ, the authority of the apostolic witness and hermeneutic, and the fascinating continuity of the Bible’s complete narrative beginning with and carried throughout the “Old” Testament into the New. Pursuing the Ph.D. will increase my critical and analytical capabilities, so that I might better specialize in the areas of my interest, and so that I might be more qualified to teach at the seminary or university level. 

Lord willing, how do you plan on serving the church with this Ph.D.?

My future goals in respect to this education consist of equipping myself with the available training to be a professor of New Testament, who then equips pastors, teachers, and laymen/women in both the academic and local church settings, that they might do the work of the ministry truthfully and with great zeal.

Lord willing, after finishing my doctorate, I plan to become a professor in an academic context whereby I will be able to influence the Christian and secular academies at both local and continental levels through lecturing and writing. I also have a strong desire to impact local church bodies in at least three ways: (1) by protecting the church from various interpretive and/or theological issues in scholarship that may cause harm to confessional Christianity; (2) by not only teaching church members the Scriptures, but also teaching them to read the Scriptures well for themselves on coherent biblical and systematic grounds; and (3) by encouraging and strengthening their faith through the occasional opportunities to preach in various church meetings and broader conference settings.

As of now, I hope that the results my research interests will serve as a corrective to the decades of scholarship that have, in a sense, taken the discipline of New Testament Theology out of the hands of the church and placed it into the hands of (unbelieving) critical scholars. In addition, hopefully my interests in the New Testament’s use of the Old–or perhaps the hearing of the Old Testament in the New–will also encourage members of the body of Christ (esp. pastors and teachers) to enjoy the first two-thirds of their Christian Bible as much as they do the last. It would be a delight to see members of all ages in the church grounded in and guided by a “whole-Bible” biblical theology, in and by which they might behold Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham, all the more clearly.

What are your prayer requests in balancing family, work, studies, and serving the local body at Redeemer?

Partnering with us in prayer, beseeching the Lord of glory on our behalf, is probably the most important thing you can do in coming along side of us in this ministry. The task is very demanding of both time and energy. At times this can also become spiritually draining, especially since I will be interacting with other scholars, whose worldviews often contradict that of the Gospel’s. You can pray these things for me: (1) that I remain discerning in all the Lord sets before me in the program; (2) that I do not grow weary but do grow in thanksgiving for the strength God daily gives; (3) that the Lord be magnified in how and what I write; and (4) that the Lord would daily humble me before himself in prayer and devotion to his word. More importantly, pray (4) that I remain faithful to my responsibilities as a husband to Rachel; (5) that I grow in an understanding and application of what it means to love Rachel as Christ loves the church; (6) that our sights might be fixed upon Christ daily so that he remains the center of our marriage; (7) that the Lord would grant us wisdom in raising a child starting in June; (8 ) that we would both devote ourselves to instructing him with the Gospel, teaching him to love righteousness and hate sin; and (9) that we might remain faithful to the needs, goals, desires, and ministries of the Redeemer Church body.

What will you buy your wife and kid(s) when you have your Ph.D. diploma in hand to serve as their “diploma” for “their half of the Ph.D.”?

This was a good one, and a hard one. I did not know how to answer it being it is so far away. I asked Rachel what she would like to do. Here is her answer: “I would like a month vacation with no reading and writing (except reading for fun), at the beach or out in the country, with perhaps provided house-cleaning.” Hmmm…If this were to take place, I may go through scholastic withdrawals. 🙂