"It is a pity that we know so much about Christ, and yet enjoy Him so little."

- Charles Spurgeon
Quick Review: The Last Disciple

I just finished reading The Last Disciple over the weekend after I picked it up at a used bookstore. The Last Disciple is preterism's answer to the Left Behind series.

Since preterism takes the view that much of what was foretold by John in the book of Revelation took place around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, this book inserts some fictional characters into that setting, and tells a story that brings the history and exegesis behind the preterist position to life, much in the way the Left Behind series has for dispensational premillennialism.

I enjoyed the book. It was a tad bit disjointed, with a lot of different, and seemingly unconnected things going on at once. While it's not Umberto Eco or anything, it is complex, and I think that in a way not demanded by the plot. Maybe that's just me; I think I'm better at following an argument than following characters. I think it could have been thinned down some, but things do start to come together at the end.

It is intended as part of a series. The next book, The Last Sacrifice, just came out. Although I think I'll enjoy reading this series and recommending it to others, I think this diminishes much of the force of these books. Consider that dispensational premillennialism has a much greater following than preterism. The Left Behind series doesn't have to explain dispensationalism in a nutshell, since there's already a fairly widespread understanding of it. And its distinctive components (the rapture, tribulation, rise of AntiChrist, etc.) lend themselves to distinct volumes. But preterism is not well known. And it doesn't lend itself to a series of stories in that same way. I think a single volume would have better served to illuminate the essential features of preterism.

With all of that, I think you can probably see that this is a case where ideology drives the story. While that is generally a criticism, given that this was a response to the the Left Behind series, I don't have a problem with it. The afterward of a few pages discusses this basis of the series. This brings me to another point. Hank Hanegraff labels his version of preterism "exegetical eschatology." He has said, "I coined the phrase ' exegetical eschatology' to underscore the fact that above all else I am deeply committed to a proper method of biblical interpretation rather than to any particular model of eschatology." I'm sure he is, but somehow I find that label less than helpful. I don't think it would help the state of theology if R.C. Sproul decided to proclaim that he was a defender of "exegetical baptism," or James White announced his view as "exegetical soteriology," or . . . well, you get the idea. Whatever their flaws, dispensationalists certainly would demur to any suggestion that they derive their eschatology from a means other than exegesis.

I do have another criticism, but that acts as something of a spoiler, so I'll insert that in a comment below.

Reformation Day 2005

It started a long time ago. In 1483, young Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany to a peasant father who worked his way up the socio-economic ladder which was unusual in those days. Martin's dad was a peasant who became a miner, and then owner of several foundries. Martin's parents were very severe, and their punishments stuck with him even in adult life.

(Note: Please look at the date above. This was 500 years ago. Martin Luther is NOT, I repeat, NOT Martin Luther King, Jr. They are two different people! Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.)

Young Martin was whipped in school for not learning his lessons. He was also whipped at home. He was used to being punished for falling short. Even when he was older, Martin wrote with bitterness about the punishment he received as a child.

In July 1505, When Martin was 21 years old, he became a monk. His father was very displeased. Martin's father had his own plans for his son. Young Martin was supposed to become a lawyer. He felt betrayed by his son. He had worked hard to provide a good education for his son.

Two months earlier, Luther had been walking through a terrible thunderstorm. When lightning struck a tree nearby, Luther cried out, 'St. Anne, I will become a monk.' He survived the storm and kept his promise.

During his first year, he thought he was at peace with God. His superiors recognized his potential and decided he should become a priest. Then he was overcome with terror. He was so unworthy. Unworthy of God's love and not doing enough to be saved. God was a righteious judge, and severe like his father and his teachers.

One day, there would be a final account, and he would fail.

In order to be saved from the wrath of God, he had to make use of all the means of grace offered by the church.

But the means were not good enough.
Luther did good works. He confessed. He did penance.
The more he did, the more overwhelmed he was by his own sinfulness.
He wasn't tremendously sinful by most of our standards. He fulfilled his vows. He was more righteous than any of us here, probably.

He went to confession as often as possible.
He was horrified that he might forget to confess some sin, and all of his good deeds would be erased.
He spent hours listing his thoughts and actions. And the more he studied himself, the more sin he found.
He would leave the confessional, and then upon leaving, he would remember one more.

His confessor, would turn the other way, when he saw Luther coming.
At one point, he said, in sarcasm, go commit adultery or murder your parents or something, and stop confessing this minutia. His confessor and superior told Luther to become a professor, so that he would quit worrying about his own sin so much. He received his doctorate in theology at the age of 28.

And the more he got to know God and God's righteousness the more fearful he became.

AT the age of 31, while studying Romans he made a great discovery. He came across Romans 1:17-

"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: " The righteous will live by faith."

At first this filled him with fear. God's righteousness, when revealed meant punishment.
Then he made a tremendous discovery.

God forgives us. He gives us his righteousness. We receive it by faith, and he gives that too!

Luther says this about his discovery -

'I felt that I had been born anew and that the gates of heaven had been opened. The whole of Scripture had gained new meaning. And from that point on the phrase 'the righteousness of God' no longer filled me with hatred, but rather became unspeakably sweet by virtue of a great love.'

Luther's life was changed! But what he discovered wasn't new. It had been there in the Bible all along. And it had been lost.

The Church taught that the church had control of God's forgivness and it was given by obedience to the church.

A local royal, Albert of Brandenburg, wanted to gain control of an archbishopric. He made an arrangement with Pope Leo X to sell indulgences. Albert would get half and the pope would get half.

The man in charge of selling John Tetzel and his preachers would say that the indulgences made sinners 'cleaner than coming out of baptism' and 'cleaner than Adam before the Fall' and that 'the cross of the seller of indulgences has as much power as the cross of Christ. If you wanted to buy an indulgence for a loved one, you could send them straight to heaven. My favorite slogan:
'As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the sould form purgatory springs'

Luther was incensed.

October 31st, 1517 - He nailed 95 theses on door of church at Wittenburg. He was challenging the church to debate. His message spread throughout Europe.

The pope and the authorites came after him. He was called to conferences, but protected by a local roayalty.

Luther debated his issues in official church councils.

Finally in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, Luther was told to recant. He paused. But not because of what they did to heretics. That's what I would be afraid of.

He was afraid of God. Did he dare oppose the entire church and the emporere whose authority had been ordained by God?
He trembled and asked for a day's time to consider.

The next day he arrived at the Diet and the hall was filled. Luther was asked to recant again.

He began to speak, saying that much of what he had written was basic Christian doctrine that everyone agreed upon. He argued that he had been defending the German people who had suffered injustices. He could not withdraw that.
But finally, perhaps he was harsh, but the truth of his teaching could not be denied, unless someone could convince him from the Bible of his error.

He was asked again, 'Do you recant or do you not?'

Luther answered in German, rather than Latin, 'My Conscence is a prisoner of God's Word. I cannot and will not recant, for to disobey one's conscience is neither just nor safe. God help me. Amen.' And he left.

The world was changed! The Protestant Reformation had begun.

And so on October 31st, the day Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg, we celebrate Reformation day. But really any day can be your reformation day.

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Let this be your Reformation Day!

Symphonic Theology by Vern Poythress, now online

There is a neat little book now online, Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology, by Vern Poythress. The book is in print by Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, but the author and publisher have granted permission for it to be made available on the web.

This is a great, little (128 pages) book. It is the sort of book that packs more punch than its page volume would suggest. And it is the kind of book that, were it to be read and digested by the Christian blogosphere, would probably suffocate half the arguments and battles among Christians on the web. So much of our fights have to do with absolutizing one principle or doctrine from scripture, or arguments about which doctrines should have priority of place. This is a great lesson on how to blend different points of view into a harmonic expression of God's truth.

Justin Taylor recently excerpted the twelve maxims of symphonic theology from this book:

1. Language is not transparent to the world.
2. No term in theBible is equal to a technical term of systematic theology.
3. Technical terms in systematic theology can almost always be defined in more than one way. Every technical term is selective in the features it includes.
4. Boundaries are fuzzy.
5. No category or system of categories give us ultimate reality.
6. Different human writers of the Bible bring different perspectives to bear on a given doctrine or event.
7. The differences between biblical writings by different human authors are also divine differences.
8. Any motif of the Bible can be used as the single organizing motif.
9. We use different motifs not to relativize truth but to gain truth.
10. We see what our tools enable us to see.
11. Error is parisitic on the truth.
12. In theological debates, we should preempt the other person's strong points.


I perused a forum this morning created for fans of writer Jane Austen, in which "Austen" was consistently spelled "Austin."
Can you be a "big fan" if you can't spell the object of your fandom's name?

While I've got you here, dear readers:

There is no L in Osteen.

Tenets are beliefs; tenants are people who live in a building.

Arminians are believers in Arminius-style free-will theology; Armenians are people from Armenia.

Happy October 31st!

"This is the day the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
-- Psalm 118:24

I Wish it was Me-2

Bird text-messaged me the other night to say he was front row at the Houston U2 concert.
"How'd you swing that?!" I wrote back.

Apparently, Bird's bro Sha was able to get floor seats because of his fan club membership. Once they reached the venue, U2 routinely has a ticket lottery where lucky concertgoers can win space inside the ellipse arching out from the stage.
Bird, Sha, and Boo were mere feet from Bono and the Edge.

I think Sha was the first Thinkling de-Thinklinged. Perhaps if he could, I don't know, hook a brutha up, we could reconsider his de'd status.

Swoopes! Queer it Is!

A popular WNBA star announces she is gay.

In other news, the Pope still wears a funny hat.

Life is a vapor


Church members, friends, and the Baylor community filled First Baptist Church in Waco to mourn the loss of Pastor Kyle Lake. Lake died Sunday after being electrocuted during a baptism at University Baptist Church.

Church leaders say Lake was about to baptize a young woman when he stepped into the water. Officials aren't sure if a short in Lake's microphone caused the deadly accident. The woman being baptized wasn't harmed.

Theological Dispatches from the Asylum: Herbert McCabe

In theology, I think some of the work I have found most profitable is from those who must be classified, ever so gently, among the slightly unhinged. Sure, the work of Charles Hodge cuts with scientific precision through the world of systematic theology. Charles Spurgeon brought verve and humor into gospel preaching. And Calvin left no invective unhurled.

But give me the man who should not be allowed in public. Whose awkward and desperate gropings at the truth cause other theologians to wince. Whose zeal for the truth begets exaggeration of a sort that is received alternately as comedy or heresy. They arrest us with shocking inversions of the familiar. They dance on the line between lunacy and brilliance.

Periodically, I will be taking a look at a select group of such Christian writers. I want to briefly highlight who they are, and offer some brief quotations and summaries that may inspire you to open the door to the asylum.

The first is the late Herbert McCabe. McCabe was a Dominican priest, theologian, and editor of New Blackfriars and author of God Matters. He lived from 1926-2001, and was shaped by the 1960's, with its clashes over situation ethics and the rise of liberation theology. Unfortunately, he was much taken with the latter, although he fought unwaveringly against the former. He would not tone down any expression of his convictions. His radical politics got him into trouble, but he was unrepentant:

He was sacked as editor of New Blackfriars in 1967 for remarking in one of his widely anticipated monthly editorials that the church "is quite plainly corrupt." After his reinstatement three years later he began his first editorial, "As I was saying before I was so oddly interrupted."

While I don't at all admire his politics, I do think we have much to learn from McCabe. He was at his best in bringing new light to issues of free will, the antithesis between sinful society and love, and the nature of God. I will highlight those in turn.

One of his chief preoccupations was prayer. Consider this:
For real absolute waste of time you have to go to prayer. I reckon that more than 80 percent of our reluctance to pray consists precisely in our dim recognition of this and our neurotic fear of wasting time, of spending part of our life in something that in the end gets you nowhere, something that is not merely non-productive, non-money-making, but is even non-creative, it doesn't even have the justification of art and poetry. It is an absolute waste of time, it is a sharing into the waste of time which is the interior life of the Godhead. God is not in himself productive or creative. Sure he takes time to throw off a creation, to make something, to achieve something, but the real interior life of the Godhead is not in creation, it is in the life of love which is in the Trinity, the procession of Son from Father and of the Spirit from this exchange. God is not first of all our creator or any kind of maker, he is love, and his life is not like the life of the worker or artist but of lovers wasting time with each other uselessly. It is into this worthless activity that we enter in prayer. This, in the end, is what makes sense of it.

Point-Counterpoint: Westerns and Moral Values

How the Gunfighter Killed Bourgeois America, by Ryan McMaken.

.. . . In a break with the literature of the 19th century, the Western denigrates commerce, Christianity, and even the family. It does this by creating a world where such institutions are the least likely to succeed and thrive. The result is a Hobbesian state of nature where militarism, violence, and a Spartan lifestyle are the only means to achieve security and justice. Women, children, businessmen, clergy, intellectuals, and anyone else whose trade is not related to gunplay are of extremely limited relevance.

The result is that the Western is dominated by the martial values of the gunfighter who has no need of families, capitalism, God, or civilization. Since businessmen, women, children, and all the other inhabitants of bourgeois society depend on culture, civilization, law, and peace to thrive, the Western mocks their perceived weakness and defines itself in terms of the unquestioned superiority and heroic stature of the superman that is the gunfighter.

The choice that the Western poses to its audience then is a choice between the impotence of the Victorians, and the heroics of the gunfighter. Who could be so foolish to choose the former? The gunfighter, the Western tells us, is the reason the West was won. It wasn't won by women or preachers or merchants who were irrelevant at best and appeasers at worst. The choice is between militarism and the bourgeois life; between the bible and the six-shooter; between cheap talk and mighty action.

In Defense of the Classic Western, by Gary North.

Who guards the guardians? This theme is as old as the Western literary tradition. When the guardians become tyrants, a good man is hard to find. But he is always there. He comes to the aid of the poorly represented citizenry . . . In every classic Western, the background is moral. The foreground is a battlefield: the loss of authority of the righteous and the replacement of justice with power. The question is: How will power be broken and replaced with lawful authority?

The greatest Western is Shane (1953). Why is it the greatest? Because the constant theme is the life of the common farmer, seeking to live his life peacefully, confronted with a well-armed cattleman . . .

The classic Western presents the representational showdown between good and evil. Both sides represent order. The question is: Whose order? This means: Whose authority? Whose law? Whose sanctions? Whose future? These are what Calvinists call covenantal issues. They are always settled by representatives: God vs. Satan, Eve vs. the serpent, Abel vs. Cain, Moses vs. Pharaoh, David vs. Goliath, Elijah vs. Ahab, Jesus vs. Israel's leaders.

The classic Western was a defense of individual heroism in a transitional culture, where law and order are distant or corrupted by local special interests. It was self-consciously a literature of men, written for men and boys, about the life-and-death issues that only rarely face a man in organized society, but which every man in every society should be willing to face.

Enough with the Riddlespeak

I once made a Sunday School teacher cry because I didn't understand what the heck she was talking about. She was the sort of person who would never just say what she meant but was always trying to be clever or strange or fancy or "artsy" or something. It was like speaking another language, almost. I know she did it because she thought I was smart and would appreciate the vague ethereal quality of her ruminations, and I think I am smart, but sometimes I just don't get why I have to figure out what people are saying when it should be well within their ability to just say what they mean.
So one day at youth camp, we were having a discussion about some topic of relative importance to a teenage boy, and at one point, instead of responding to what I had just said with something approximating coherence, she responded with some sort of fortune cookie koan that made me blurt out, "Why do you always talk like that? Why can't you just say what you mean?"
She started to cry, and then of course I felt terrible for not respecting her right to be incoherent, even when trying to help me.

This happens to me weekly in the blogosphere. There's always one or two commenters who can't just say what they mean. They have to express themselves in some compositional amalgam of sarcasm, nuance, and riddlespeak. I always feel stupid trying to figure out what these people are saying. I'm not talking about technical jargon or wordiness or just bad arguments. Those I can usually figure out with the resources available (my brain, context clues, a dictionary). I'm talking about trying to figure out: Do they agree with the post or disagree with it? Are they insulting me by sarcastically agreeing or do they really agree? What the freak are they talking about?

Some people just like to hear themselves talk (or see themselves write, I guess). I'm one of them, no doubt. But I hope that I always try to be as clear as I am clever. If I think there might be any doubt as to whether I'm being sarcastic, I'll put one of those little ;-)'s on there.
But I will never respond to somebody's point with some mercurial meandering that says anything but a clear thing responding to the point.

Blogosphere: Enough with the riddlespeak!

Does anybody know what I'm talking about here? I'd quote examples, but I don't want to make anybody cry. ;-)

What Does "Redeem" Mean, Anyway?

I'm saving my official "Halloween is good" post for when I have pictures, which will of course be after Halloween. That's me -- always a day late and, going by the restitution offered by the insurance company of the lady who tried to kill my wife, about $6,000 short.

But one thing I've noticed here and there in the beegeesphere, in the context of posts about whether Halloween can be "redeemed," is the idea that some things aren't worth redeeming or that some things can't be redeemed.

Setting aside the answers to those questions for a second, I would say that fundamentally they misunderstand what "redeeming" really means. In these cultural terms it does not mean taking something the world has made or that the world owns and "making it good." It doesn't mean merely "cleaning something up."
No, in these cultural terms, redeeming something means rescuing something held hostage that was made and owned by God. Are kidnapped children not worth rescuing once they've been captive a set number of years?

Of course we're talking about art forms and holidays and what-not, not children. So the stakes are not as dire.
But in my view, it is not as if pagans invented make believe and sharing candy. Make believe and candy are part of the good world God made, and they were once held hostage by the devil. Costumes and candy-sharing aren't bad things we can make good; they are good things we should steal back from whoever perverted them centuries ago. And of course from whoever is perverting them today.

Now, to Halloween:
Whether redeeming make-believe and candy-sharing is worth your time or effort is between you and God. Taking part in the holiday may be good or bad, depending on the believer, depending on his or her conscience, depending on his or her cultural environs.

But "redemption" -- I say every believer enters dangerous theological territory when he casts redemption itself as a take-it-or-leave-it concept. Surely nothing deserves redemption, including ourselves. But deserves is hardly the point, is it? At least, that's how I understand the more pressing concerns of grace and God's glory.

Free MP3: Ken Myers interviews Eugene Peterson

I know Eugene Peterson has a lot of fans among those who frequent this site. Over at Mars Hill Audio Journal, there is an unedited MP3 of an interview Ken Myers did with Peterson for the Mars Hill Audio Journal.

For those who may not know, Mars Hill Audio produces a bimonthly "Journal," published on CD and cassette. It contains interviews with guests (typically writers, academics, or musicians) on various topics of interest to the intellectually inclined Christian layman. I don't listen to NPR, but I've heard Mars Hill described as a Christianized version of some of the things NPR does. As one who commutes a fairly good distance to work everyday, I find their resources helpful in making good use of that time. Currently they are having an inventory clearance sale, and I just stocked up on some good stuff. Now is a great time to sample some of their work.

Miers Withdraws- What’s The Real Reason?

So Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration to be the next Supreme Court Justice.

Why? Oh, sure, I know what the media is saying. The conservatives were criticizing her lack of qualificationsand they didn't trust the President that she was a true conservative etc...

The media smells blood.

I wonder what's the real reason? How much criticism was she really receiving? Just because the media was reporting that she was being criticized doesn't mean much. Do you really believe that the Senate would have voted against her? I think she would have passed.

Maybe she didn't think so. Or maybe she just didn't want to deal with it. Perhaps the risk of having a nominee declined was too great for the president?

The media is saying that the next nominee will have to be a judge in order to avoid the same sort of criticism. If that's true, it seems that we are setting a precedent here not found in the constitution. That troubles me. Maybe the person on the bench shouldn't be a professional judge!

I have this suspicion that Miers might have been fantastic on the bench and now we'll never know.

I'm also concerned that Bush will cave to what the media is saying and that his next nominee will be "qualified" in the way that they say he/she should be and will have a conservative track record. Then the left will get to attack, attack, attack conservative views to its hearts content. Would Scalia have passed today? I doubt it. What are the chances of having a Scalia or a Bork pass confirmation in today's political climate? Nil.

We may have missed a great opportunity with Miers. I don't know, and I guess we never will.

I wouldn't be surprised if Bush makes an announcement tomorrow morning. That guy moves fast.

De Gets His Wish

No, he's not been restored to Thinkling status (although I question the accuracy of any claim that he ever lost it).

Harrier Miers has withdrawn her nomination.

Discussion here (the Volokh Conspiracy).

Orin Kerr makes the case for Michael McConnell.

He's my choice, assuming Janice Rogers Brown is out of the question. Check out this glowing endorsement of her at blackcommentator.com:

"Janice Rogers Brown is the far right's dream judge," said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. "She embodies Clarence Thomas's ideological extremism and Antonin Scalia's abrasiveness and right-wing activism. . ."

In speeches, Brown has embraced the extreme states' rights and anti-federal-government positions of the Federalist Society, the organization of lawyers and judges working to push the law far to the right. She has said that what she has called the "Revolution of 1937," when the Supreme Court began to consistently sustain New Deal legislation against legal attack, was a "disaster" that marked "the triumph of our socialist revolution."

In contrast with Sandra Day O'Connor, who was sort of a middle-of-the-road justice on issues like abortion, Janice Rogers Brown is a middle finger justice. For that reason, I doubt it'll be her, and probably Michael McConnell would be a better overall justice. But both of those justices are independent of mind, and not terribly deferential to presidential power and prerogative, which I think has scared Bush off somewhat of considering them for the high court.

The Cure For What Ails You

Eureka! I've found the cure for 'tired-itis.' Have you ever been tired of the grindstone? It seems like sooner or later everyone wonders if they are just a hamster on a wheel, running and running and never getting anywhere. And we want to stop and ask, 'What's the point?'

We're here to glorify God by building his kingdom, serving through his church, winning lost people and by enjoying him all the while! It's one thing for us to say that. How do we get that truth into our hearts and minds? Here's the answer:

Spend some time with someone who just got saved.

That's right. Talk to someone who just met Jesus for the first time. Listen to their story. Hear what God saved them from and to. Hear them celebrate the joy of forgiveness and restored relationship with their creator. Rejoice with them that they finally found what they were looking for all their lives. Pray with them for their friends and family who are still lost.

When I get down and wonder "Why am I doing this?" God lets me talk to a new Christian. And every time it is exactly what I needed.

Spending time with a lost sheep who has been found will affect you in many ways.

First, it reminds you of the joy of your own salvation. Some of us have been Christians for so long, that we have forgotten how wonderful it is just to know that you are saved. Listening to what God has done for another makes you praise God again for Christ's glorious work. Remember Jesus's story about a woman who finds a lost coin.

'When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents' (Luke 15:9-10).

Second, it reminds you of what is really important. It's not bills or finances. It's not work or the plumbing problems you've got at home. It's not the high price of gasoline or politicians who do stupid things. It's not even procedural problems at church. What's really important is the salvation of souls.

'The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went a way and sold everything he had and bought it' (Matthew 13:45-46).

I think there would be less conflict in churches if people would spend more time with new Christians who are excited about salvation. It gives us less time to see things to complain about.

Third, it energizes you. Sitting with someone who just got saved is a reminder that God is still at work. It's so exciting to see how God changes lives. It puts everything else and perspective. It reminds you, 'Oh, this is why I help out at church.'

Fourth, it gives you a chance to make a difference. If you've been a Christian longer, then hopefully you are a little farther down the road of following Jesus. Share with them what you know. In fact, Jesus commands us to do this. Paul was mentored and mentored others.

Go! Find a new Christian. Disciple them. Mentor them. Become their friend. Help them in their new walk with the Lord. And as you're helping them, you'll find that they are helping you! One way to find a new Christian is to get to know one of your new church members, especially if any of them have just been baptized! If you don't know any new Christians, start telling lost people about Jesus. It won't be long until one of them gets found!

Reflections On My Birthday

I turn 33 today. I don't feel any differently. Am I supposed to?

I still suffer from the childhood disease "I want to be older"-itus. Most adults my age seem to be disappointed when they turn a year older. I still secretly look forward to growing older. I'm not sure why. If I were to psycho-analyze myself I guess it would be because I look young. And I get tired of people commenting on how young I look. Subconsciously I seem to think that if I'm older I'll get more respect. (I guess it's not subconscious anymore!) I get tired of people saying, "You don't look old enough to be a pastor." Of course, that's not how it comes out as much nowadays. Now when people realize that I am a young preacher I hear, "You remind me of that preacher on TV, what's his name?" And I sigh..."Joel Osteen." "Yeah, that's him." they say, "I knew you reminded me of somebody." So being a young looking skinny preacher puts me in Joel Osteen's category. Woop-ee.

It's weird to think back about what my Dad was like from my perspective as a child, when he was my age. Of course then, I thought he knew everything. Being 33 now, and knowing I don't know everything, I realize he probably didn't either.

I am always amazed at how many people share my birthday, October 26th, especially friends of mine. I'm not sure why so many people seem to have this birthdate. (Best I can figure, 9 months prior is winter and what else was there for our parents to do? )

So Happy Birthday to Jerry, Gail, Lara and Chuck! I'm always sure to send them birthday cards every year. After all, how could I forget? And now I get to add another birthday buddy to my list - regular commenter Brian in Fresno. He took the initative and sent me an email wishing me a Happy Birthday today. Happy Birthday man!

Brian told me that our birthday coincides with the anniversary of the shoot-out at the OK corral. He says that he doesn't know why, but he's always thought that was pretty cool. I think so too!

Jesus was my age when he died. That makes me pause....

It makes me think, "Every year I have after this is one more year than Jesus had." Is that what he meant when he said, "You'll do even greater things than me?" Is it because we get more time? I wish my last 3 years of ministry were 10% as productive as our Lord's. It convicts me to really get cracking on the next 3 years.

To everyone else who has a birthday today...Happy Birthday! Let me know who you are in comments.

Team of Density

It's mighty quiet around here lately.

Where'd all the 'Stros fans go?

Snobbification Complete

The transformation of my solo site Mysterium Tremendum into a full-on literary blog is complete. Come check out the aesthetic overhaul when you get a chance.

Thanks to my bro Stroke for the Van Gogh-inspired masthead, and a big heapin' helpin' of thanks to code-wrangling workhorse Bill, our illustrious webmaster, who followed my demanding and sometimes confusing directions with enthusiasm and good humor and uncommon skill.

Utter Destruction

News and pictures are finally coming out of Cozumel in the wake of Wilma. It's not pleasant. Please continue to pray not only for Cozumel, but all areas that have been affected by this latest disaster.

I found this link from some folks who have been slowly streaming reports from the island:


Even in the midst of God's wrath, His love and mercy is clearly displayed.

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