getting the history part of grammatical-historical

Just a thought that occurred to me while listening to Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds …It is extremely helpful to Bible interpreters to have an understanding of the culture and history in which the Bible was written. This particular “Great Courses” offering touches on some points of history that help us in understanding the culture the early Christians were saved from. I think that I am reading the New Testament with better understanding as a result.

Even better than this course are two other offerings: Herodotus: The Father of History, an excellent presentation by Elizabeth Vandiver and the actual work of Herodotus: The Histories.

These works are full of secular misconceptions and there are sometimes misrepresentations of Biblical information contained in them. However, one thing I’ve found fascinating is the Greek mindset on display. I suspect that many Greeks of the ancient world viewed their pagan superstitions cynically, yet they most likely “hedged their bets” and went along or adopted them as a “cultural practice.” Nevertheless, whether true believers or no, they had a culture to overcome in coming to Christ. “The Greeks look for wisdom.”

As we consider the preaching and teaching of the apostles in the context of the thinking of the day, we can gain insight to perhaps preaching and teaching the pagans of modernistic and post-modernistic society as well.

interesting blog on marriage


A concluding quote

This irony—that we expect so much of marriage but find it disappointing—is an irony Scripture understands perfectly. It’s called idolatry. If I pursue any goal above the honor of God, I’m worshiping an idol. The moment I make my “relationship” the goal of my life, I doom myself to disappointment.

A note for the Convergents ™ out there…

Yes, I am linking to a blog on The Gospel Coalition site. No, I am not joining your ranks!


No moral compass

That’s basically what this Abacus survey of Canadians on issues of morality seems to suggest, for the vast majority of Canadians. This presents a challenge for evangelism (so many false values to get past) and an opportunity (Christianity is clearly different). May we be bold and call men from darkness to light!

My Romans Commentaries

I recently finished preaching through the book of Romans. My usual method of preaching in our church is verse by verse exposition. I usually am working on one or more books of the Bible in our regular preaching sessions. I call my method “the glacial approach to exposition,” which is to say, “I go slow.”

I began my Romans series on September 23, 2007. We finished 318 messages later on November 15, 2015. Of course there were interruptions for special speakers, mini-series, special occasions and Christmas (I usually take a month or more off for Christmas, preaching on a special Christmas theme each year). [Read more…]

more on invitations

As a follow-up to my earlier post, I’d like to comment on what I think are appropriate uses of the invitation.

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on invitations

If you’ve been in the conservative evangelical/fundamentalist world for any length of time, you’ve experienced a variety of invitations in the services you have attended. In some services, the preacher seems to connect with heaven and send a message direct from God to your sinful heart and you bow in confession and respond as the preacher calls for repentance at the end of the service. Some services in particular speak directly to the heart of the lost and are used by God to bring about numerous conversions in response. On other occasions, the preacher may not have seemed so connected with the divine, yet an invitation is given anyhow – and a response ensues, often in large numbers, but it somehow seems to lack the intense spirituality of those other occasions. It seems… routine… manufactured… indefinite… inconclusive… and rarely produces change that lasts.

What is the difference? [Read more…]

Piper on parenting

This is very, very, very good. Regular readers of this space will know that I disagree with the author profoundly on several points. But I have to recommend this article to you. He is exactly right.

When our children were little, people often would say to us, “just wait till they are teenagers.” The teenage years were such a blessing, so much fun with our kids… in some ways the best years of our life so far. I could wish them back except that now I have a granddaughter!

The point of the article is that teaching children obedience is a biblical requirement with rich rewards for the parents who insist on obedience … and for their children too! Teaching obedience requires courage, energy, initiative and drive. It is the best spiritual investment you can make in the lives of your children.

I know, I know, the cycle of life isn’t over yet. Children have wills of their own. They can still disappoint. They may make choices that overthrow all the training you have invested in them.

Don’t let such possibilities be excuses for your lazy, selfish attempts at making parenting easy.


preaching Christmas

The holidays are now behind us. We had a seven part series this year, “The Son of David”. I love to preach Christmas series. We have had a different series almost every year of my ministry.

Other preachers have spoken to me of being challenged by preaching at seasons like Christmas. I suspect that perhaps the reason is a too narrow view of what is acceptable for a Christmas series. If we simply return to the Christmas passages in Matthew and Luke again and again, it can get difficult. One can only exegete so much out of these very familiar passages, especially when our people have heard it all before.

I don’t wish to make a big point on this post, but simply to ask a few questions of any preachers who read it. First, do you find Christmas to be a “homiletical challenge”? Do you dread Christmas for that reason? If not, why not? And what do you do to preach Christmas? What are your goals in preaching for the Christmas season?

I am thinking of writing up some of my approach, but I’d like to hear from others first. Is it a topic of interest?


is musical talent a spiritual gift?

I’ve been thinking about spiritual gifts and musical talent lately. Some people talk like musical ability is a spiritual gift that is especially given for service in the church. Some of these people will almost refuse to serve in any other way.

Is this a Biblical way to look at one’s gifts and/or talents?

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it’s a people business

Saw an interesting political clip on Breitbart the other day. It’s TV host Chris Matthews complaining about Obama. I first ran into Matthews on TV when the Clinton scandals were active. He was quite antagonistic to Clinton, but he is a liberal Democrat politically and a Catholic, so I have big disagreements with him on a lot of issues. Still, he’s a guy I like in spite of these disagreements.

And of course, I was interested in this clip because the headline talks about Matthews going after Obama. I don’t particularly like Obama’s politics either.

But take a look at the video, because I want to make a point about the ministry from something Matthews says about politics.

[Read more…]