Thursday, August 30, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

I've not been in the "full-time" swing of studies since last Fall. It's been a challenge to get back in the routine of reading a couple hundred pages a week in addition to writing papers. I slowed down my reading this past Spring because of other things going on, but picked it back this summer.
Word to the wise...dont' slow down your reading!

Also, it's been quite an adjustment being in the Eastern time zone. That may sound silly, but when you've lived in the Central zone for 30 years and are accustomed with television routines, etc, it does mess with your sleeping habits. Lame, yes, but interesting to me!

I will say this; I don't miss my UPS schedule!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

History, Story, Theology and more

In doing some "light" reading for a Historiography class, I was struck by a particular journal article on the nature of postmodernism's affect on history. The author, an environmental historian, seemed to approach the postmodern way of "doing" history with caution, rather than an all out embrace, but acknowledged that it is important for historians to understand that history is a narrative within a series of narratives, and possibly (he did not use this term) a metanarrative. He made the point that history is not real to people when it is simply cold, chronological fact, but that history "works" when it is presented in story.

As I read this article, it made me appreciate my professors at Covenant Seminary because many of them emphasized that the Gospel does not simply bring us into a series of cold propositional truth, but that Truth brings us into a grand story - God's story. And in that story, there are many stories, but they are connected to an overarching story of God's action and the redemption that he has promised, both for creatures (humanity) and the creation (his real estate). The upshot of this understanding, that redemption is a story, is that is breathes life into proposition. So, we can read the words of the Apostles and see something like, "Christ died for sinners..." and it is not simple fact, but part of a narrative. The proposition is true because it is tied to a lived-out reality.

I think we can de-emphasize the fact that redemption has a story because we want some "meat" in our theology. So, when we talk about justification, we go to a text in Romans and back it up with something from Ephesians without using narratives that prove the same point, or flush it out some more. Maybe the key is to realize that our great propositions are wed to these stories. The stories are there for a purpose because we, as humanity, live our lives as a story. I am not arguing that story is more important than proposition, however, I think we need to understand that story breathes life into proposition. It is not enough for me to answer, "the stock market crashed in 1929" and leave it at that in my economic history class. That is insufficient. Although, I am giving a provable fact, I have not tied that fact to the larger picture, or story. It is fragmented. Maybe we who preach and teach God's word should think about that a little. The words in Scripture are tied to more than just their immediate context. The text is pointing us to a greater overarching, real Story, that is grander than our imagination. This is something people can latch on to. The God of the universe brings humans to be a part of his story.

Monday, August 20, 2007

This is not why I am at WVU....

W.Va. University tops party school list

By VICKI SMITH, Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - To the disappointment of school administrators — and the pride of some students — West Virginia University is No. 1 on The Princeton's Review's annual list of the top 20 party schools.

The school has made the list seven times in the past 15 years, despite efforts to curb underage drinking and rowdy behavior. But not since 1997 have the Mountaineers taken the top spot. Last year, WVU was No. 3, bested by the University of Texas at Austin and Penn State, both of which remain in the top 10 this year. Senior Katie O'Hara, 22, said WVU is No. 1 because "no matter what kind of party you want it's here — bars, fraternities, house parties. ... If you want to take shots all night, there's a bar; no matter what you want to do, it's there." Still, O'Hara said her friends "know how to manage their time. They know when to party and when not to," which wouldn't explain the school's No. 1 ranking in the category of Their Students (Almost) Never Study.

The rankings are contained in the 2008 edition of "The Best 366 Colleges," which is going on sale Tuesday and is based on a survey of 120,000 college students at those schools, mostly during the 2006-07 school year. No. 2 on the party list was the University of Mississippi, followed by the UT-Austin, the University of Florida and the University of Georgia.

West Virginia's No. 1 ranking is just speculation, said West Virginia sophomore Stuart Sauer. "I think there's no way to measure that," said Sauer, 20, of Richmond, Va. "Every school's a party school." Incoming WVU President Mike Garrison focused on the positive rather than the rankings, saying the students he met over the weekend and on the first day of classes Monday are more concerned with their futures "and with the great year we have ahead" than with partying. "I'm focused on the way this university changes people's lives, the research that we do and the service we provide to the state of West Virginia," said Garrison, who officially replaces David C. Hardesty Jr. on Sept. 1. "This is a special place, and the whole state is proud of it."

The Princeton Review says the guide to the best schools is intended to help applicants who can't visit every school in person. Guide author Robert Franek said each of the 366 schools "is a 'best' when it comes to academics. "But as anyone visiting colleges can attest, their campus cultures and offerings differ greatly," he said. "It's all about the fit." At the other end of the partying spectrum is Brigham Young University, claiming the top spot in the "Stone Cold Sober" category for the 10th straight year.

The book has 62 categories in all, including: Best Campus Food, Virginia Tech; Most Beautiful Campus, Sweet Briar (Va.); Dorms Like Palaces, Smith College (Mass.); and Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians, Hampshire College (Mass).

This year, WVU finishes among the Top 10 in several other categories: No. 4 in Students Pack the Stadiums; No. 5 for Best College Library; No. 6 for Lots of Beer; No. 7 for Lots of Hard Liquor; and No. 8 for Best College Newspaper. The Princeton Review, which is not affiliated with Princeton University, is a New York company known for test preparation courses, educational services and books. It published its first survey findings in August 1992.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Oklahoma City Is Great!


The Oklahoman Editorial
IF Oklahoma City were a state, its economy would be bigger than that of Alaska and four other states, taken individually. By one measure, the city's gross metropolitan product (GMP) in 2005 was $43.1 billion, compared with $39.3 billion for Alaska's gross state product.

By another measure, Oklahoma City's GMP for 2005 ranked it 51st among metro areas in the country. Our friends in Tulsa weren't as fortunate, with a ranking of 62nd — still large enough to outrank the entire states of South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming or North Dakota, but not Alaska.

Citing figures from the economic analysis firm of Global Insight, the Greater Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce says Oklahoma City's growth between 2001 and 2005 was 33 percent, higher than the growth rates for Kansas City, Mo., Nashville and San Antonio, among others. The 33 percent growth rate compares with 23 percent for the nation as a whole during the same period.

The $43.1 billion figure cited above represented 35.4 percent of Oklahoma's gross state product in 2005. This isn't the only measure of success that has the chamber crowing these days. Between June 2006 and the comparable month of 2007, employment grew by 3.1 percent with the addition of 17,700 jobs. This represents the lion's share of the whole state's job creation.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Almost there...

Another round of graduate work begins on Monday.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A great Sunday

Yesterday I got the opportunity to preach at Mather Christian Church in Mather, PA. I had no idea what "kind" of a church it is, but I really didn't care because their pastor was out of town, they needed someone, and I think George Whitfield was right when he said he'd preach in Rome if the Pope extended him the invitation. It turns out that it's a Restorationist church.

Anyway, they celebrate Communion weekly, *cough* as all churches should *cough*, so I preached on celebrating the Lord's Supper. I don't think that's a sermon we hear often, and honestly, could hear enough of. The congregation seemed to appreciate it, so I am grateful.

I am not much of a "topical" guy because, frankly, it's too easy to butcher the inspired intention of the text, and if you preach expository sermons you have to submit to what the text says and not twist bits an pieces to what you want them to say. But with such a Redemptive-Historical subject, I cannot see how this sermon could be preached from one text.

I drew from Genesis 14, Exodus 12, Exodus 24, Luke 22, 1 Cor 10, 1 Cor 11 and Rev 19:9 because you can only go so far! haha

Celebrating the Lord’s Supper

I. We Celebrate The Promises of God in His Word

Old Testament and New Testament
The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) and Christ

II. We Celebrate The Peace of God in the Gospel

The Gospel is pictured in the Supper (visible words)
Proclaiming his death (1 Cor 11:26)…the reality that man and God can experience peace…

III. We Celebrate The Presence of God in the Lives of His People

A. The Past

Abraham and Melchizedek (Gen 14) points to this
Moses, Aaron and 70 Elders at Sinai (Exodus 24 ) 8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." 9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, [b] clear as the sky itself. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

B. The Present

Paul pictures this 1 Cor 10
Communion is not a time to be sad about ourselves, but joyous about our savior. He invites us to fellowship with him. Take, eat. Take, drink.

C. The Future

Luke 22 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb pictured in Revelation 19:9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God."

Application: Appreciating this visible reminder of Christ's power in our lives. Celebrate it! It is for you! He will never leave us or forsake us!


Friday, August 10, 2007

I need some ideas...

About how to fix my "main" website....I am lost about that sort of thing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Assuming the Worst

One of the most interesting things that occasionally happens when I mention to someone that I have a seminary M.Div is this air of suspicion because of education. It doesn't happen all the time, but there are those instances where I or my wife will get a reply like this: don't let all that education go to your head. God still uses people who act on their call. Other times, responses will range from the "you don't need a degree to preach!" or "well you may know theology, but ministry is more than that!" And then the classic, "well, ministry is more than just theology."

I do appreciate the concern, but I think a lot of it is just a defense mechanism. When we meet people who may have more information that us on a subject, we sometimes think that the other person will "lord it over us." I used to feel this way when I was in my "shadetree mechanic" days. Someone who knew substantially more than me became a threat because I really believed I knew all I needed to know.

The problem is this: it's too negative. When I meet people and they find out I've been to seminary, why do they have to assume the worst, like I'm going to be arrogant about that fact. Why can't they assume the best? By that I mean, why can't they assume that I try my hardest, by God's grace, to use my training to benefit the people of God? I don't assume the worst when I meet pastors who didn't go to seminary, why I can't I have the same benefit?

Enough about me. Here are a few other areas where we assume the worst.

Politics. For you on the left, do you really think GWB gets up every day and thinks, "how can I screw America today?" And for you on the right, do you think Hillary Clinton does the same?

Denominations. I have met some people who are extremely confused in this area. Let me help. Southern Baptists don't take marching orders from the Convention. Their Churches are autonomous and connected. I, as a member of the Presbyterian Church in America, do not take marching orders from Atlanta, GA. This means, when I am called to a church in a pastoral capacity, it comes from the church. It means that my salary is not paid by the denomination. The PCA is a grassroots denomination, for better or worse, which means there is no central authority telling the churches and pastors how to practice. Now, PCA churches are confessional, meaning that to be a church, elder, or deacon in the PCA you have subscribe to the Confession of the PCA in good faith, but this does not apply to members. Presbyteries are not in place to tell churches what to do, but to conduct business and provide assistance. It's a very Acts 15 way of doing things.

Bible Translations. I have heard so many KJV only sermons that assume people only translate Scripture to lead God's people astray. Especially the anti-NIV crowd. Here's my take on it. R. Laird Harris, the Chair of the NIV who taught at Covenant Theological Seminary, was fighting liberalism before most of you were born. So every time you bash the NIV, you are bashing a man of God, who is nearly 100 years old, living in a Presbyterian retirement home in PA.

Megachurches. Do we really need to assume that all megachurch pastors intentionally want to destroy the church? I think most of it is jealousy. Seriously, I do. If you're a pastor of a 100 or 200 or 50 member church, wouldn't you love the opportunity to preach to 1,000 or 2,000 or 10,000 people on a Sunday? Wouldn't you loooove those accolades, speaking opportunities and book deals? You would and you know it. I am a person who believes that God gives his Gospel success. While, I may disagree with ecclesiology and methodology issues here and there, I firmly believe that God blesses his Gospel. I am not a pessimist in this area!

I admit I have sounded fairly negative in this posting. It's not my normal "style," but occasionally I think we need to shock our senses (especially my own!) to reorient our thinking.
Basically, I ask this of myself and you; don't be so negative toward people you have quibbles with, especially in the Church (which means this paragraph has little to do with the political portion of this post). I have a hard time believing that people who belong to God are out there intentionally trying to destroy his Church, Kingdom and Gospel.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Good Times

A couple weeks ago we were in Oklahoma. Jen and I had a fantastic time with family and seeing a few friends. One of the highlights, however, was getting the chance to preach at First Reformed Presbyterian Church in Minco. This church has been around since before statehood (I believe) and the pastor is a good friend of mine from seminary.

Another cool thing happened this past weekend when our friends Currie and Abby stayed with us. They're friends from our seminary days and Currie will graduate from Covenant in about two years. It was great playing pinball, talking, enjoying the amenities here at the farm and just being around them again. Sunday night, we made a small fire by the pool and chatted. It almost made us miss our 700 sq ft apartment...ALMOST.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


This is just a reminder to all people who are Christians that single people and marrieds without children are not second class citizens in the Kingdom.

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