Archive for January, 2011

Thoughts on Psalm 70 and sore knees

The comedian Brian Regan has said that you know you’re getting old when you can pull a muscle in your sleep. There are days in which we feel our human frailty more than others. To be sure, the aching back, the sore knees, and the like are a part of, what we might call, growing closer to eternity. So we mumble things like, “I can’t wait for heaven” or “this back won’t hurt in its glorified state” and we say this with a slight chuckle but with a real hope that this is the case. However, if we can borrow an phrase from Schaeffer, how shall we live today? We are right to believe in a future new heaven and earth in which Christ will gloriously reign but we have to ask, how is He being exalted now in the world of sore knees?

David sets up a memorial in Psalm 70 that reminds us of this very tension. He brackets the Psalm with a cry for the Lord to “hasten” to his side for help (vv. 1, 5). There appears to be shades of an eschatological hope in future glory while at the same time a present trust in the Lord (vs. 4b, 5). So in this present, ugly, painful, and even sneering world (vs. 3) we can still say, “Let God be magnified” (vs. 4c). So rather than making the “most” out of a difficult situation, David exhorts us to make the most of God even while the back still aches.

Christian Liberty and Colossians 2:16-17

Colossians 2:16-17, writes H.C.G. Moule, are an appeal for “Christian liberty,” as earnest … as [Paul’s] appeal to the Galatians “not to be entangled again in the yoke of bondage.” But let us note well that the “liberty” he means is the very opposite of licence and has nothing in the world akin to the miserable individualism whose highest ambition is to do just what it likes. The whole aim of St. Paul is for the fullest, deepest and most watchful holiness. He wants his Colossian converts above all things to be holy; that is, to live a life yielded all through to their Redeemer, who is also their Master (p. 171).

Vaughan, C. (1981). Colossians. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11: Ephesians through Philemon (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.)  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Making Disciples

To many churches put too much emphasis on ‘getting decisions’ and not enough emphasis on ‘making disciples.’  The emphasis evident in the Great Commission clearly stresses discipleship: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations’  (Matthew 28:19).  Stress is also placed on the empowering presence of Christ to make discipleship a reality: Christ has all authority (Matt 28:18) and believers enjoy His presence (Matt 28:20).

Jason C. Meyer, The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology, p. 279.

Polycarp’s blessing

“Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High Priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth and in all gentleness and in all freedom from anger and forbearance and steadfastness and patient endurance and purity, and may he give to you a share and a place among his saints, and to us with you, and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead. Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings and powers and rulers, and for those who persecute and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross, in order that your fruit may be evident among all people, that you may be perfect in him.” 

Polycarp, To the Philippians (ca. AD 120) in Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers (219). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

HT: W. Varner

Where did Peter deny Jesus?

In the upper room of a house in Jerusalem, Jesus made a break with the Jewish Passover and instituted a New Covenant meal that would be ratified the next day in His blood. It was also on this occasion that Jesus looked at the faces of His disciples and said something none wanted to hear, “You will all fall away because of Me this night” to which Jesus sources Zechariah 13:7 as support for His prophetic announcement (Matt 26:31). Peter would have none of such talk and pledged that he would go to the death with Jesus (Matt 26:33, 35). However, Jesus put His prophetic finger specifically on Peter and said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matt 26:34).

According to John 18:17 it appears that Peter’s denials took place at the house of Annas, the former High Priest. However, according to Matthew 26:69 Peter’s denials took place at the home of Caiaphas, the current High Priest and son-in-law of Annas. Obviously, these are two different homes with two different men presiding. One well-known research professor comments on the John 18 passage with nothing more than, “In John, this was the time when Peter denied Jesus.” The problem is that such comments fail to resolve the obvious problem of Peter’s denials being in seemingly contradictory places.

The solution, however, is not difficult to see. In John 18:5 Peter makes his first denial of the night at the house of Annas during Jesus’ first Jewish hearing. Then he follows the crowd with Jesus over to the house of Caiaphas where Peter makes his further denials during the second Jewish hearing (Matt 26:69–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:55–65; John 18:25–27). So where did Peter deny Jesus? First, right outside the doorway of Annas’ house and then sitting in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house while warming himself by a fire.

More prayers for children

See the first ones here along with the explanation for their structure.



Pursuing Father,

The nations without Your Son are dark

Spread your Word and create a spark

That we will be a light for You

Ever faithful, ever true

Telling of Jesus as we go

His salvation ready to show



Loving Father,

Your promise still remains

Your lovingkindness always the same

Your Word is sure and true

Came He, Your will, to do

Blessing you have promised

To those who you call by name

Your covenant love to accomplish

Your Son, always the same.




Redeeming Father,

In sin we came to be

In love you came that we

Might know Your Son

The begotten One

And live always with Thee




Holy Father,

Incline our hearts to hear your Word

That our eyes may behold

Your testimonies, our delight

A treasure more than gold

Unto Jesus who lights our way


No, that’s what churches are supposed to do

I realize that this is a sacred cow and a much larger conversation than a blog affords but it needs to be said. Seminaries cannot fully prepare a man for ministry. Thinking like this is like assuming that buying a ratchet at Sears will automatically change the oil on your car.

It usually comes out this way in conversations. A graduate of XYZ Seminary says, while rolling his eyes, “they never prepared me for [fill-in-the-blank issue/problem].” To which we should reply, “no, that’s what your church is supposed to do.”

In his new book Think, John Piper traces his spiritual development through his theological training and makes a simple yet excellent observation:

“I didn’t expect college and seminary and graduate school to teach me things that have to be learned on the job” (26).

If this sounds like I’m placing undue blame on seminaries, I’m not. To some degree, seminaries do what they do because the church has not done what it should do. I’m not in favor of re-conceptualizing everything that seminaries do but churches should give more careful thought to how they are 1) recognizing men for ministry and 2) how they are being equipped for ministry.

What are some of you doing in your churches with these last two points? Keep in mind that your ideas here could be a real blessing and encouragement to others so feel free to speak up.

Ezekiel and the “call” to ministry

Daniel Block, reflecting on Ezekiel’s call to ministry in Ezek 3 notes an important theological implication concerning the “call” to ministry. His statement is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject yet it’s worth considering.

First, whoever would serve as a messenger of God must recognize that the calling comes from God alone. Neither the needs of the field, nor oratorical gifts, nor any other external qualifications authorize one to enter divine service. Moreover, the God who appoints his servants also defines the task, chooses the field of serivce, provides the message, and assumes repsonsibility for the outcome. The less evident the fruit for one’s ministry, the more critical is a clear sense of calling.

from Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 1-24, NICOT, 130.

Answering Bart Ehrman

Probably the most popular alumnus from Moody Bible and Wheaton College is a well-known scholar in the area of textual criticism and the historical Jesus. Unfortunately for both of these schools his name is Bart Ehrman. He is the darling of the media, taking the place of the now deceased Robert Funk, when they need someone to tear down Christianity in the name of “scholarship.” His books have made inroads into some churches so pastors should at least be aware of the issues at hand. The new website The Ehrman Project brings together numerous scholars to answer Ehrman’s criticisms and questions. Check it out.


You don’t don’t look a day over 446.

The earliest form of the Heidelberg Catechism was published January 19, 1563.

Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?

A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

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