Monday, April 30, 2007

Obama's Church

Here is a very interesting article in today's New York Times about Obama's faith and church.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

dumbing down of American culture continued tonight

The dumbing down of American culture continued tonight, this time in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Tonight the Democratic candidates "debated" one another at South Carolina State. Now when I refer to the dumbing down of American culture, I am not referring to any or all of the Democratic candidates but rather the format of the debate itself. Each candidate's answer was limited to 60 seconds. 60 seconds! You're kidding me, right? We are bogged down in a controversial war, the terrorist threat looms, our culture is deeply divided over crucial social issues, our health care system is a mess, DNA technology is stirring a renewed debate over the death penalty, there are real issues of justice at play in America, our education system continues to suffer and the list can go on. And the candidates are given 60 seconds to answer questions? Give me a break. We deserve better and we should ask for it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jerram Barrs lectures on apologetics and outreach

Here is the link to an apologetics and outreach course by Jerram Barrs at Covenant Seminary. It looks like the accompanying book is "The Heart of Evangelism" by Barrs. I'm going to download this to my Ipod and listen to it on Sabbatical this May. The lecture titles look very promising. It sure looks like this is not just your standard apologetics stuff (teleological argument for the existence of God, presuppositionalism vs. evidentialism, etc) It looks instead to be very oriented toward engaging the world with the Faith. Check it out.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Phil Ryken on Biblical Preaching

Colin Adams interviewed Phil Ryken on preaching for his blog "The Unashamed Workman". Phil here gives a terrific definition of biblical preaching, one which is important for all in at Trinity to understand and one that I by God's grace attempt to live up to more and more. Here it is:
Expository preaching means making God’s Word plain. In an expository sermon the preacher simply tries to explain what the Bible teaches. The main points of his sermon are the points made by a particular text in the Bible. The minister not only begins with Scripture, but also allows the Scripture to establish the context and content for his entire sermon. The way he decides what to say is by studying what the Bible has to say, so that the Scripture itself sets the agenda for his interpretation and application.

This kind of preaching is most helpfully done when a minister follows the logic of the Scriptures, systematically preaching chapter by chapter and verse by verse through entire books of the Bible. This helps ensure that a congregation hears what God wants them to hear, and not simply what their minister thinks they ought to hear.

But expository preaching is not so much a method as it is a mindset. A minister who sees himself as an expositor knows that he is not the master of the Word, but its servant. He has no other ambition than to preach what the Scriptures actually teach. His aim is to be faithful to God’s Word so that his people can hear God’s voice. He himself is only God’s mouthpiece, speaking God’s message into the ears of God’s people, and thus into their minds and hearts. To that end, he carefully works his way through the Scriptures, reading, explaining, and applying them to his congregation. On occasion he may find it necessary to address some pastoral concerns in a topical fashion, but even then his sermons come from his exposition of particular passages of Scripture. Rather than focusing on his own spiritual experience, or on current events, or on what he perceives as his congregation’s needs and interests, the minister gives his fullest attention to teaching what the Bible actually says.

If you care to read the rest of the interview, go here:

ESV Literary Study Bible

Leland Ryken and his son Phil (of Tenth Pres fame) are editing the forthcoming ESV Literary Study Bible. I love the idea and it already sounds like a winner! If it is anything like Ryken & Ryken's Handbook to the Bible, then it will definitely find a place into my library. Here is a blurb from the esv blog:
The ESV Literary Study Bible approaches the Bible as literature and shows how the application of literary tools of analysis helps tremendously in reading and understanding the Bible. Readers are introduced to the literary features of each book of the Bible and to each section within each book.

Meredith Kline: 1922-2007

Influential covenant theologian Meredith Kline passed away on Friday night. To find more info about Kline, visit theopdia (pasted below) or visit Lee Irons' web site:

Meredith Kline

From Theopedia

Meredith G. Kline

Meredith G. Kline

Meredith G. Kline, born 1922 in Coplay Pennsylvania, is an American theologian and Old Testament scholar. Kline is an influential voice for Covenant theology in the Reformed tradition. He is perhaps best known for his important contributions in the area of Suzerain-Vassal treaties in the 2nd millennium BC. He is also well-known for his defense of the "framework" interpretation of the creation story in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

Kline received a B.A., Gordon College; Th.B., Th.M., Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia (1947), and a Ph.D. in Assyriology and Egyptology from Dropsie University (1956). He is an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and has had a long career as Professor of Old Testament at various institutions, including Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia; Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; and Westminster Seminary California.

Selected publications

  • God, Heaven and Har Magedon: A Covenantal Tale of Cosmos and Telos (2006) ISBN 1597524786
  • Glory in Our Midst: A Biblical-Theological Reading of Zechariah's Night Visions (2001) ISBN 1579105998
  • Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview (2000) ISBN 1597525642
  • The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation (contributor, 2000) ISBN 0970224508
  • Images of the Spirit (1999) ISBN 1579102050
  • The Structure of Biblical Authority (1997) ISBN 1579100694
  • "Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony," Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith 48 (1996) pp. 2-15
  • By Oath Consigned: A Reinterpretation of the Covenant Signs of Circumcision and Baptism (1968)
  • Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy: Studies and Commentary (1963)
  • "Because It Had Not Rained," Westminster Theological Journal 20 (1958) pp. 146-57.

External links

  • Meredith Kline Online - a website with a comprehensive collection of Kline's writings
  • The Upper Register - a website with publications by and about Kline from his former student and collaborator Lee Irons

Monday, April 9, 2007

Hannah Baptized on Easter Sunday

Here we are at the end of the Easter Sunday service where I had the privilege of baptizing my daughter. Christopher was baptized on Easter Sunday in 2003 and Sarah was baptized on Thanksgiving weekend of 2004.

Of course we could never get Christopher and Sarah to look at the camera at the same time!

Here we are with my folks

Here they are on the couch after church. Sarah loves "holding" her little sister.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Sin & Grace

Here is a very fine epigram: "No sin, no need for justification: no grace, no possibility of it." - Tom Wright, as quoted in John Stott's The Cross of Christ, p. 64

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I'm at War, though you wouldn't know it

There's nothing about either my appearance or my daily routine that might give you the sense that I am fiercely engaged in a great battle for something of supreme importance. In fact, my life right now is filled many solid, lasting joys. Hannah is a delight and I can't wait to see what she becomes in the months ahead. I can't get enough of Christopher. And I loved to be loved by Sarah. And my wife makes me very happy! Being in a ministry is of course sometimes a burden in many ways, but it too also makes me happy. I had dinner last night with a man who really wants to grow spiritually. That whole conversation made me happy. Though I sometimes am prone to pessimistic thoughts and to see everything through a glass darkly, the truth is, I am a very happy guy with a very happy life. I don't seem to be the kind of guy hunkered down in an intense battle. But I am. And my enemy is strong, subtle, sharp, cunning, effective and elusive.

My enemy is the flesh. My flesh.

That body of sin that resides in me. It corrupts my joys. It twists my desires. It reprograms my thoughts. The flesh takes things in my life that are of minor importance and make them seem as if they are critical. And the flesh takes truly important things and makes them feel distant, remote, inaccessible, uncertain, and small. The Flesh knows my weak spots. It knows which buttons to push. And I'm at war with my flesh. The point of the war is to determine who or what will rule and reign in my life. Fundamentally, what kind of person am I. Where do my deepest loyalties truly lie? Who am I and what are the things that I think, feel, do and say. What rules my heart? What fruits of my life will sprout from what kind of roots in my soul? Oh, there's a war going on inside of me. And even tonight as Mindy and I watched Will Smith's "Pursuit of Happyness" with a little tear in each of our eyes, that same war was being played out in the way that I was going to interpret this movie and appropriate it to my life. So perhaps for me the better part of wisdom will be to push aside all sermon/worship preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday later this week, and instead devote the rest of my week to prayer, Scripture and John Owen. But I won't do that. I might just be indulging the flesh right at that point, rather than squaring myself fully towards the duty that must be done to have something edifying to say to God's people this holy weekend. So I'm going to turn out the lights now and pray that the Lord would awaken me at an early enough hour so that I can begin a day given over to His glory through sermon preparation. Tomorrow is going to be another day in the war. It's a good thing that I have a Captain and King who has every resource at my disposal to beat back the flesh tomorrow and enable me to walk with the Spirit.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Amy Catherine McCracken

Since my sister Amy went home to be with the Lord 24 years ago today (April 3, 1983) at the age of 15 (brain tumor), I thought I might post a really old family picture. The pale dorky kid with glasses is me. Amy is standing in the center. My mom's parents (Theron & Maurine) are seated and my dad's parents (Hoy & Fran) are standing. This was taken in 1981 or 1982, I'm not sure which.

"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." 1 Corinthians 15:20

One week old today. Due date is tomorrow.

Hannah is one week old today and she gets her first sponge bath. She didn't like it very much! But as you can see, she's very content here wrapped up in a towel.

Christopher loves his new guitar! Watch out James Taylor! Sarah likes it too.

Birthday cupcakes (with an Easter theme)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Theology-Driven Ministry - Sinclair Ferguson and Paul Tripp

Justin Taylor points to Southeastern Seminary's recent Theology-Driven Ministry Conference, featuring our friends Paul Tripp and Sinclair Ferguson. You can access the audio here.

Here were the messages:
  1. Your Walk with God Is a Community Project – Paul Tripp
  2. Progressive Sanctification and the Anti-Social Nature of Sin – Paul Tripp
  3. The Pastor’s Role in Sanctification – Sinclair Ferguson
  4. Colossians 3:1-17 – Sinclair Ferguson
  5. Sanctification in the Middle of the Messiness of Relationships – Paul Tripp
Ferguson also preached on Looking in the Mirror (James 1), and Tripp on Playing with the Box (Romans 7). This definitely looks Ipod-worthy!

Happy 4th Birthday, Christopher!

Christopher turns 4 years old today. Here he is standing next to his birthday present (a guitar). We'll go over to Nana and Pop's house tonight for salmon, cupcakes and presents. I took Christopher and Sarah out to play today, we had cheese pizza for lunch (his favorite) and we also went to the bookstore while mommy got Hannah's baby clothes & other things organized.

Here is a pic that Mindy took of Hannah today

Sarah, our mother hen, cheerfully keeps watch over baby Hannah

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sarah gets some attention from Pop

My dad reads Sarah one of her favorite books today (Baa Choo)...

Growing Outrage at Sell of Liberty Bell Naming Rights

Reliable sources are confirming that sometime this week, and as early as tomorrow, the National Park Service will announce that for $35 million dollars it has sold the naming rights of the Liberty Bell to Taco Bell, Inc., a subsidiary of Pepsico. Not only will Taco Bell become the official sponsor of the Liberty Bell, but many are expressing dismay and outrage that the Liberty Bell will be renamed "The Taco Liberty Bell". I urge you all to sign this petition to protest the sell of the naming rights of one of this nation's historic symbols of freedom.