Saturday, June 30, 2007

Vacation Day Two - Saturday June 30

Today we basically walked around D.C. from the Mall to the White House to the Lincoln Memorial to a couple of the Smithsonian museums to Congress to the Supreme Court Building to Union Station to the Metro to our car, which was parked in Falls Church.
All this in under 8 hours. Yet still, we had time to take some good pictures, buy an original "Ike" pin from a street vendor, see interesting people, and learn that even the President of the United States has weeds in his yard too. I also discovered that D.C. squirrels are little beggars and brave ones at that. Jen got so close to one that he slapped her shoe. It was funny and I wish I had put the digital camera on video function.

Anyway, here's one of the most famous residences in the United States. I jokingly told Jen that I was going to tell people we saw Laura and the twins laying out in their lawn chairs with G.W. playing bocce with one of the twins' date and Cheney grilling hotdogs, fat-free turkey dogs of course. Jen thought that was a little much, so here's the pic....
Tomorrow, we head to Bethany Beach, DE.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Vacation Day One - Friday June 29

This is something I have wanted to see since I was a little boy. It is an extremely moving monument, especially when coupled with the fact that Arlington National Cemetery is just a few hundred yards away.

Still though, after looking at Ira Hayes in the back with his hand not touching the pole, I was reminded of the movie made shortly after his death and the song Johnny Cash sang about him.
I have been told I am distantly related to Ira Hayes, though I have not seen the proof myself. I am posting the Cash song lyrics below because it tells a little of the tragedy that was Ira Hayes' life.

The Ballad Of Ira Hayes

Ira Hayes, Ira Hayes
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Gather round me people there's a story I would tell
About a brave young Indian you should remember well
From the land of the Pima Indian
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land

Down the ditches for a thousand years
The water grew Ira's peoples' crops
'Till the white man stole the water rights
And the sparklin' water stopped

Now Ira's folks were hungry
And their land grew crops of weeds
When war came, Ira volunteered
And forgot the white man's greed

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

There they battled up Iwo Jima's hill,
Two hundred and fifty men
But only twenty-seven lived to walk back down again

And when the fight was over
And when Old Glory raised
Among the men who held it high
Was the Indian, Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Ira returned a hero
Celebrated through the land
He was wined and speeched and honored; Everybody shook his hand

But he was just a Pima Indian
No water, no crops, no chance
At home nobody cared what Ira'd done
And when did the Indians dance

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Then Ira started drinkin' hard;
Jail was often his home
They'd let him raise the flag and lower it
like you'd throw a dog a bone!

He died drunk one mornin'
Alone in the land he fought to save
Two inches of water in a lonely ditch
Was a grave for Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes
But his land is just as dry
And his ghost is lyin' thirsty
In the ditch where Ira died

Our Beautiful Home...

The cabin on the left was built in the 1800s and the one on the right was built in the 1790s. The one on the right is the original home on this property. A little ways down there used to be an Indian village 500+ years ago. This area is just a few miles north of the Mason-Dixon line, and was a haven for Indian-settler battles back in the 1700s as well as troop movements during the War For Independence. It is not uncommon to dig in our yard and find pieces of pottery or basic tools and items like old horseshoes. It seems that people buried their refuse since there weren't any city dumps or trash collections. Another plus is that you can still find old arrowheads if you're looking. I haven't found any yet, but I will at some point.

Back to the cabins. We basically live in the one on the right and our kitchen/dining area is in the left cabin. It's great, peaceful, and for some reason I've been compelled to read more than ever!

From Jen's Blog...

This pond is just a little past our porch and makes for a nice view out the bedroom window.
We pretty much see this doe everyday. Now she's bringing a "friend" with her; a nice 6 point buck, who looks pretty young. If he's left alone for a year or two, he will be a trophy.

Our turtle, Brooks is finally in his bigger tank. Soon, he will have a girlfriend to share it with.

I may post more pics at a later date.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Great Site

I will post more about this at a later date, but I just found out about this: The Gospel Coalition. This looks like it will be a great ministry resource. There are already video and audio links as well as downloadable documents.

HT: Reformissionary

A July full of adventures awaits!

Tomorrow morning, we make the three hour drive to Washington D.C. for the weekend, then head to Bethany Beach, Delaware for about 10-11 days. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Don't worry Oklahoma folks, we'll be in the OKC area from July 17-23.

Ahhh, the joys of being in the education industry.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Getting Outfoxed

By a fox no less. I am going to get him...for the chickens, RIP.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Preach God's Story, Not Ours

From my weekly PreachingNow email....

Preaching God’s story, not ours

In the Winter 2007 issue of Fuller Seminary’s Theology News & Notes, New Testament scholar Marianne Meye Thompson asks: “What would it mean to let the gospel be your guide in preaching? In order to reflect on that counsel, we must come back to the question, what is the gospel? First and foremost, the gospel is God’s action, God’s story, God’s saving initiative toward the world which he has created. It bears repeating: the gospel is God’s story.

To preach the gospel, then, means sentences in which God is the subject of active verbs. Beginning with accounts in Genesis and moving through the book of Revelation, it’s easy to make quite a list of all that God does: God speaks, creates, judges, calls, sends, saves, delivers, feeds, clothes, promises, loves, shows mercy and kindness, does justice, and so on. To preach the gospel is to proclaim the accounts of the Scriptures in light of the fact that their central character is God, and that the gospel is from God and about the God who is Father, Son, and Spirit.

I am reminded of a sermon I heard on John 11, the raising of Lazarus. The story is the climactic “sign” in the Gospel of John testifying to Jesus’ identity as the resurrection and the life. Jesus’ sign of raising the dead bears witness to the glory of God, that is, to the power of God to give life to the dead through Jesus. The fledgling preacher told the story, leading up to the dramatic moment when Jesus calls out, “Lazarus, come forth!” This story is one that embodies the gospel in all its simplicity—the power of Jesus, the one sent by God, and his word to give life. But, apparently feeling it inadequate, the preacher added, “And now Lazarus had to make a decision.” It is, of course, a ludicrous picture: a dead man deciding whether or not to obey the word of Jesus! But the turn of this sermon illustrates something pernicious in much modern preaching: it is so easy to make the most powerful of Gospel stories center on human action and not on God, to think that somehow our actions, our decisions, are the heart and center of the gospel story. To make that move is to sell out the gospel.” Read the full article here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Gospel vs. Religion

Here's a good article by Dr. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.

A couple highlights...

The gospel is "I am accepted through Christ, therefore I obey" while every other religion operates on the principle of "I obey, therefore I am accepted." Martin Luther's fundamental insight was that this latter principle, the principle of 'religion' is the deep default mode of the human heart. The heart continues to work in that way even after conversion to Christ. Though we recognize and embrace the principle of the gospel, our hearts will always be trying to return to the mode of self-salvation, which leads to spiritual deadness, pride and strife and ministry ineffectiveness.

One of the most important ways to get a hearing from post-modern people and to wake up nominal or sleepy Christians is to preach the gospel as a "third" distinct way from both irreligion and religion. Religion is "if I obey I will be accepted." Irreligion is "I don't really have to obey anyone but myself." The gospel is "since I am accepted, I will obey."

Religion is 'outside in': "if I work hard according to Biblical principles, then God will accept/bless me". The gospel is 'inside out': "because God has accepted/blessed me, I work hard to live according to Biblical principles". Religion (explicitly in other faiths and implicitly in legalistic Christianity) makes moral/religious observance a means of salvation. Even people who believe in the Christian God can functionally 'base their justification on their sanctification' (Lovelace). Thus a prime need is to distinguish between general 'religion' and gospel Christianity as well as overt irreligion. Why? (1) Many professed Christians aren't believers--they are pure 'elder brothers' (Luke 15:11ff.) and only making this distinction can convert them. (2) Many, many real Christians are elder-brotherish--angry, mechanical, superior, insecure--and only making this distinction can renew them. (3) Modern and post-modern people have rejected religion for good reasons and will only listen to Christianity if they see it is different.

We have said that you must preach the gospel every week--to edify and grow Christians and to convert non-Christians. But if that is the case, you cannot simply 'instruct in Biblical principles.' You have to 'get to Jesus' every week.

For example, look at the story of David and Goliath. What is the meaning of that narrative for us? Without reference to Christ, the story may be (usually is!) preached as: "The bigger they come, the harder they'll fall, if you just go into your battles with faith in the Lord. You may not be real big and powerful in yourself, but with God on your side, you can overcome giants." But as soon as we ask: "how is David foreshadowing the work of his greater Son"? We begin to see the same features of the story in a different light. The story is telling us that the Israelites can not go up against Goliath. They can't do it. They need a substitute. When David goes in on their behalf, he is not a full-grown man, but a vulnerable and weak figure, a mere boy. He goes virtually as a sacrificial lamb. But God uses his apparent weakness as the means to destroy the giant, and David becomes Israel's champion-redeemer, so that his victory will be imputed to them. They get all the fruit of having fought the battle themselves.

This is a fundamentally different meaning than the one that arises from the non-Christocentric reading. There is, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: is it basically about me or basically about Jesus? In other words, is it basically about what I must do, or basically about what he has done? If I read David and Goliath as basically giving me an example, then the story is really about me. I must summons up the faith and courage to fight the giants in my life. But if I read David and Goliath as basically showing me salvation through Jesus, then the story is really about him. Until I see that Jesus fought the real giants (sin, law, death) for me, I will never have the courage to be able to fight ordinary giants in life (suffering, disappointment, failure, criticism, hardship). For example how can I ever fight the "giant" of failure, unless I have a deep security that God will not abandon me? If I see David as my example, the story will never help me fight the failure/giant. But if I see David/Jesus as my substitute, whose victory is imputed to me, then I can stand before the failure/giant. As another example, how can I ever fight the "giant" of persecution or criticism? Unless I can see him forgiving me on the cross, I won't be able to forgive others. Unless I see him as forgiving me for falling asleep on him (Matt.27:45) I won't be able to stay awake for him.

In the Old Testament we are continually told that our good works are not enough, that God has made a provision. This provision is pointed to at every place in the Old Testament. We see it in the clothes God makes Adam and Even in Genesis, to the promises made to Abraham and the patriarchs, to the Tabernacle and the whole sacrificial system, to the innumerable references to a Messiah, a suffering servant, and so on. Therefore, to say that the Bible is about Christ is to say that the main theme of the Bible is the gospel--Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9).

So reading the Old Testament Christocentrically is not just a "additional" dimension. It is not something you can just tack on - to the end of a study and sermon. ("Oh, and by the way, this also points us to Christ".) Rather, the Christocentric reading provides a fundamentally different application and meaning to the text. Without relating it to Christ, the story of Abraham and Isaac means: "You must be willing to even kill your own son for him." Without relating it to Christ, the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel means: "You have to wrestle with God, even when he is inexplicable-even when he is crippling you. You must never give up." These 'morals-of-the-story' are crushing because they essentially are read as being about us and what we must do.


The following may actually be four points in a presentation, or they may be treated very quickly as the last point of a sermon. But more generally, this is a foundational outline for the basic moral reasoning and argument that lies at the heart of the application.

The Plot winds up: WHAT YOU MUST DO.
"This is what you have to do! Here is what the text/narrative tells us that we must do or what we must be." The Plot thickens: WHY YOU CAN'T DO IT.
"But you can't do it! Here are all the reasons that you will never become like this just by trying very hard." The Plot resolves: HOW HE DID IT.
"But there's One who did. Perfectly. Wholly. Jesus the---. He has done this for us, in our place." The Plot winds down: HOW, THROUGH HIM, YOU CAN DO IT.
"Our failure to do it is due to our functional rejection of what he did. Remembering him frees our heart so we can change like this..."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blow My Mind

In addition to memorizing more Scripture, one of my post-seminary goals is to read more Biblical theology because I do not feel that I soaked in enough during my mind at Covenant. It's not that CTS didn't teach it, it's just that I focused my electives more on Church History than Biblical Theology.

So the first book I begin this summer is Ridderbos' The Coming of the Kingdom and I have to say that it is correcting much of my interpretive grid for understanding Jesus' teaching on the Kingdom. The reason for that is that I don't think many connect the Older Testament's Kingdom themes to the Newer Testament's proclamation that the Kingdom has come and is coming. Having the OT in mind really helps make better sense of the world of the NT and just "what" was happening when John the Baptizer was proclaiming that the Kingdom was at hand.

A few good points that I have gleaned so far from this book (I'm only at page 150 out of 520 pages and it's not easy reading): there is a tension between the Kingdom come and the Kingdom coming. There was something eschatological going on when John the Baptizer's ministry was eclipsed by Jesus'. Jesus' coming and his Kingdom proclamations are "bigger" than we lend our preaching and teaching to, and we are able to grasp it fully.

A couple of observations I do have to make. This is not an easy book to read. It's translated into English from (I am assuming) Dutch, so I find myself re-reading a lot of it because the English doesn't flow as well as I am accustomed to. Another thing not making this an easy read is that a reader would need to have a decent level of theological knowledge prior to reading it, or they will be lost, and additionally, knowledge of some of the people Ridderbos is interacting with (Bultmann, Dodd, Schweitzer, etc). It is also helpful, but not 100% necesarry to have a grasp of Greek because a lot of the Greek is not translated into English, though it doesn't use Greek characters, but english (tou theou for genetive case of god/theos), and some of the Hebrew is done the same way, but most of the German is translated into English.

I do think this book will transform the way I preach from the synoptics when the Kingdom is mentioned, or even when it is implicite in a text. I would also highly reccomend this book, even though I am only 1/5 of the way into it, and it's been in English print for over 40 years. It will blow your mind because of the detail and care that Ridderbos took. His use of Scripture showed his faithfulness to God's word and that he actually believed the words he read.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

After the move

I have to say we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the U.S. I have ever seen. Every morning when I drive from home to WVU, there are rolling hills, green with trees and grass; many animals; and just a wonderful, mild temperature. It's awesome.
I see turkey and deer nearly everyday. It's amazing.
And having a pond 100 feet from your front door and a pool 200 feet away doesn't hurt either.

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