Softball With Your Pastoral Candidate?

One of these dates I'm going to be a pastoral candidate, so ideas like this one from Bryan Chapell's "Christ-Centered Preaching" get my attention:

Effective ministry corresponds so much with the character of a minister that theologian John Sanderson advised people to play softball with pastoral candidates interviewing for a position.  'Then on a close play at second base,' Sanderson said (with his tongue mostly in cheek), 'call him out when he is really safe.  Then see what happens!'


The Lost Tomb of Jesus

Well, apparently Jesus' tomb has been found, and he's still in it.  The Discovery Channel has a documentary on it.  So is this a big deal?  Is my faith in a risen Savior misplaced?  Nah.  The "evidence" isn't very credible.  Here's Pulpit's response and a list of other responses.

Pictures: Anniversary

Wow, 14 years.  Can you believe Ann has stayed with me for 14 years?  No, neither can I!  It's by the grace of God.


I was listening to a sermon by John Piper on James 5:19, and he noted that the Bible asserts that there is absolute truth, contrary to our cultural worldviews today.  And since there is truth, there must, by definition, be non-truth, which we call error.  From this he defined righteousness as living according to the truth, and sin as living according to error.  I find that to be a very helpful definition.

Defiled worship

Responding to Saul's claim of obedience after sparing some of the Amalekites, Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (1 Sa 15:22, NASB95)

My OT professor, commenting on this verse, said that disobedience defiles worship, making it unacceptable to God. 

I wonder how popular it would be to stand in the pulpit on Sunday morning, look at the worshippers, and say, "If you've spent the week living in disobedience to the Lord, everything you are doing this morning in this worship service is defiled and thus unacceptable to the Lord.  Repent!"  I bet the personnel committee would love that.  And yet, it's the application of the text.

Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell

I just finished reading this book on expository preaching by Bryan Chapell.  The majority of the book is on the nuts and bolts of preparing an expository sermon.  It's good, but not anything amazing.  I still think Wayne McDill's 12 Essential Skill for Great Preaching is the best book on the mechanics of preaching that I've read.  But there were 2 chapters in Chapell's book that were outstanding; they alone made the book worth buying.

In chapter 2 he describes what he calls the fallen condition focus (FCF) that exists in every text.  It is "the mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those to or about whom the text was written that requires the grace of the passage for God's people to glorify and enjoy him."  The FCF is the purpose of the text and thus the purpose of an expository sermon.  Finding the FCF points the preacher to the reality that biblical solutions to our problems must be divine and not merely human.

Chapter 10 is the heart of his book.  "Christ-centered preaching rightly understood does not seek to discover where Christ is mentioned in every text but to disclose where every text stands in relation to Christ...Each text manifests God's grace in order to prepare and enable his people to embrace the hope provided by Christ."  As Jesus described on the road to Emmaus, all texts point to him; our preaching must reflect this reality.  It's the only way to ensure grace is the solution offerred for problems, not our works.  Chapell offers some very practical steps for helping to identify how a text stands in relation to Christ.

This redemptive approach to preaching has been very helpful in my lesson preparation time.  I think every preacher and teacher should read these 2 chapters.

Sense of Humor

My Old Testament professor has a dry sense of humor.   Here's two recent quiz questions (sans the correct answers):

  1. In an attempt to kill David, more than once Saul:
    • d. forced David to participate in a meeting of the Building and Grounds Committee
  2. According to Hill and Walton (our textbook), the most important religious artifact in Israel was:
    • d. the "Prayer of Jabez" coffee mug

Greek for Homeschoolers

Last fall I started teaching Greek to my son, Jacen.  I've been using Dr. Black's book, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, but in the last few weeks I've grown frustrated with it.  The book is written for seminary students, not 3rd graders.  It moves too quickly, and doesn't have enough homework and review.  I've had to re-write the lessons so Jacen can understand them, and I've had to add extra homework, not to mention my own quizzes and tests.  I'm practically writing my own Greek book, something I don't really have the time or skill to do. 

So Ann began looking around on the internet to see if she could find any help.  Turns out I'm not the first homeschooling parent with a seminary background who's trying to teach Greek to their kids.  We've found two sets of curriculum for this purpose that might work.  The Elementary Greek: Koine for Beginners series by Christine Gatchell looks to have the best textbook, while the Hey Andrew! workbooks by Karen Moh seem to have the best workbooks (more translating).  We're going to buy some of each and try them out.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep teaching Jacen without having to spend time writing my own material.

Family Ski Trip

For the past 3 years Jacen and I have taken a father-son ski trip to Snowshoe.  Since Emilee is now 5, we decided to make it a family trip and all go together.  We rented a cabin with some friends and skied together.  As we hoped, Emilee loved skiing.  Her ski school instructor said she was "fearless" and ready for the next level.  She has nice balance and can manage the bunny slopes pretty much on her own.  In his class this year Jacen learned to control his speed by carving; I was quite pleased with his progress this year.  He is quite capable of skiing any of the blues on the mountain.  Ann spent most of her time scrapbooking and taking a well-deserved break.  Overall, it was a great family vacation.