Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On Books

I was in my local Borders’ the other evening. Although I have friends who once were in the Christian bookstore business, I still prefer the larger chains. Reason? Books! They actually have books! Many of the Christian bookstores I have seen seem to have anything but books. Sure, I can purchase Prayer of Jabez travel coffee mugs, Witness Wear T-shirts, and prints of bodybuilders dressed as angels, wings and all (if you’ve seen these pictures, you know what I mean. If not, well, they’re beyond description). Conspicuously absent from many Christian books stores are an ample supply of books. In fact, some have dropped the word “book” from their title.

Years ago, there was a Christian bookstore about 30 miles from my house that actually carried an impressive selection of books. I found commentaries, language and reference works – it even carried a complete collection of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. Not too long ago, I visited the store again and discovered that they had moved to a strip mall on the edge of town. Now in a new location, they acquiesced to the spirit of the age. I no longer found the selection of books I expected. But if I wanted the latest CD of whatever Christian grunge band was currently “hot,” I was in the right place. I was surrounded by gawd-awful art, music, and all things Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. I was very disappointed.

My intent in this was to post some thoughts on reading, but the rabbit trail beckoned. I will save that for another time. I mentioned my friends who owned a Christian bookstore. They sold the business. The owners said that, if they had their way, they would stock substantial supplies of theology and commentaries and such like. But they also knew that in so doing they would lose their shirts. The Christian community is not interested in the stuff that some would like to stock. For these books, we will need to look elsewhere. That’s why I have links to 2 online book dealers that carry the “tools of the trade.”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Counting Down to Armageddon

Add another date to the mix. Watch this countdown (if you are incredibly bored). What a fine piece of exegesis. Does Harold Camping and Jack Van Impe know about this? It figures - my mortgage will be paid off in 3 years!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Carol of the Drums?

My brother-in-law is the President of San Diego Christian College and he sent this to me today. This was the ending of the school's last chapel service before Christmas break. My absolute least favorite Christmas song is "The Little Drummer Boy." This, however, redeems the drum for Christmas carols.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The "Write" Stuff

When I am in my car, I love to listen to audio books. Sure, there are some problems with audio books: you can’t make notes or highlight the text, and though there are thousands of recorded books, the ones I want to “read” are not always available in that format. However, I particularly enjoy listening to history and biography.

Presently, I am listening to Franklin and Winston: an Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham. Much of the source material for this book comes from correspondence between Churchill and Roosevelt; Hopkins and Churchill; Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others. The letters are all well written and have a literary value all their own.

This has been the case for centuries. Correspondence – both personal and official – provides the “stuff” of biography and history. In our day, I wonder if we have lost the art of letter writing. What will historians, biographers, and archaeologists use in the future when they report about our age (unless Harold Camping is indeed correct and it’s all over by 2012)?

Letters have been replaced by cell phones, Blackberries, email, instant messaging, and other forms of instant communication. Electronic correspondence is fickle; it can last forever on some server or hard drive, or it can dissolve into cyberspace in a second.

Writing letters that are substantial, personal, well-written, and enduring is hard work. I love email – but the romantic in me wants to write letters.

By the way, a friend has made this observation that I think is relevant. We have more communication devices than ever before in human history, and yet one of the main issues in marriages, homes, and businesses is a lack of communication. How ironic.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Teach Your Children Well, Part 5

Tim Challies points us to this post by Russell Moore called"The Eschatology of Parenting." For all who have small or not so small children in their homes, this is an encouragement. It is particularly relevant for a culture that is blissfully ambivalent about taking responsibility for one's actions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Someone recently said that there are several types of people who blog (besides the mindless morons who think they have something to say). One of those types is a "gleaner." A gleaner surfs and posts the gleanings of his activities. I think I am one of those (I meant gleaner, but if moron is closer to the truth, so be it). I tend to share the stuff that interests me. Today, I have 2 gleanings:

First, I read of the passing of Derek Kidner. Some years ago, I purchased Kidner's little commentary on Proverbs and found it to be so very helpful. Next term, I will use his commentary on Genesis as a text for the class I will teach.

Second is an article on the Christianity of President Bush. The writer does not "bash" the President, instead, Bush's statements say more about American evangelicalism than they do about our President.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

John Milton

In an interview with Leland Ryken, Justin Taylor reminds us that today is the 400th birthday of John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. Many Christians today, I feel, are clueless about the contribution that this great poet has made to our culture and language.

As part of my undergraduate major in English (read: "Do you want fries with that?"), I had a semester of Milton. Now, this pales in comparison to Ryken's PhD in Miltonic literature, but I did gain a rudimentary appreciation for this intellectual giant.

When I read Taylor's post, I immediately went to Paradise Lost Book Six where Milton recounts the war in heaven between Satan's army and host of God. There is a phrase embedded in the poem that shows Milton's command of language and theology:

From all Heav'ns bounds into the utter Deep:
There let them learn, as likes them, to despise
God and MESSIAH his anointed King.
He said, and on his Son with Rayes direct
Shon full, he all his Father full exprest
Ineffibly into his face receiv'd,
And thus the filial Godhead answering spake.
O Father, O Supream of heav'nly Thrones...
In just 3 words, Milton unpacks a freight load of theology. In fact, there is more theology in those 3 words than I have heard in some sermons.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Economy of Words

I am currently studying the book of Genesis for a teaching assignment next semester. As I re-read Gen.1, I was impressed with how the Holy Spirit said so much in so few words. In Gen. 1:1, the account begins in the dateless past when there was nothing except our triune God. By the time we get to Gen. 2:1, we find that the heavens and earth were "finished." In 31 verses, we move from nothingness to the created universe with all its galaxies, stars, and planetary systems, to the earth, a garden with plants and animals, and man made in God's image. This is amazing! Certainly, God does not tell us all that we would like to know. We are left in the dark about how the process worked. But, He has told us what we need to know. So much truth is packed in such a concise amount of space.
As I think of this, Eccl. 5:2 comes to mind. I am so ready to speak, to give advice, and to talk when I have little to say. We who preach and teach the truths of the Word have a great responsibility. That responsibility is not always well served with an over-abundance of words. I am challenged by this to try to say more by saying less. I must be careful that when I say something, I have something to say.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bring Back the Old Testament

Reformation 21 contains Part One of a lecture by Ralph Davis on rediscovering the Old Testament for the church. If you are a preacher, this may convict you; regardless, it will delight you. If the OT comprises 2/3 of the Bible, and if it was the Scriptures of the New Testament writers, why do modern evangelicals make such little use of it - unless, of course, we are proof-texting?
The article is lengthy, but it bears careful reading.