Friday, February 29, 2008

Romans Study

This evening I begin a weekend study of Romans at Poplar Heights Baptist Church here in Jackson. We will meet three hours tonight (6pm-9pm), three hours Saturday morning (9am-noon) and then I will preach from Romans in the morning and evening services Sunday. I previously posted some thoughts on the historical impact of Romans.

In looking back over things today I have read a good bit of Stephen Westerholm’s, Understanding Paul,: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans. This little book is a really good overview of Pauline theology following Romans. In 168 pages he can’t turn over every stone but this is a great resource for capturing the big picture of the letter.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Owen on Heb 13:17

I am once more teaching my class on pastoral ministry. Early on we examine Hebrews 13:17 because I am convinced that the oversight of souls, as mentioned in this verse, is the heart of pastoral ministry. I also have the students read John Owen’s commentary on this verse and I commend it to you. All seven pages are worthwhile. Here is one key quote from Owen’s commentary:

“And the apostle compriseth herein the whole duty of the pastoral office … ‘The work and design of these rulers [pastors] is solely to take care of your souls,- by all means to preserve them from evil, sin, backsliding; to instruct them and feed them; to promote their faith and obedience; that they may be led safely to eternal rest. For this end is their office appointed and herein do they labour continually.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Whirlwind of a Week

It has now been a week since the tornado came by our house and went on to hit Union University so severely. Most readers of this blog have probably already seen the coverage. If you are looking for information or are wanting to keep up the three key sites are:
Union’s homepage-
The Official Recovery site-
Tim Ellsworth’s Blog-

Also Brian Denker recently took some great photos of the damage and he has a link to more photos. Here is one from Brian of the dorm room where my wife lived when we first met until we married 16 years ago this last week.

I personally have received many, many emails, calls from friends from many places expressing concern and prayers. The outpouring of support has been amazing and I have been very proud of the response of our students as they have been interviewed by various media outlets. I have already heard from various people about how the care of the community and the testimony of students has impacted lost family members, opening conversations with some who were previously closed to any discussion of the gospel. God is most certainly at work. He is advancing His kingdom and working things together for the God of His people.

The doctrine of providence is especially important and helpful in times like this. It does not answer all our questions, but it gives us a basis for perseverance. We are not governed by chance. We are not at the mercy of the whims of uncontrolled events. All things are in God’s hands, and, therefore, there is hope and meaning.

Disasters in life are more common than people typically want to admit- really only we in the developed West have the convenience of being susceptible to thinking otherwise. In this tornado we did not meet an anomaly. Rather we saw a stark reminder of the reality of a fallen world. We must not say, “This was unusual. The rest of life will roll along just fine.” That is sometimes the answer of pop psychology, and it is hollow. Rather the scriptures would teach us to say, “This is the sort of thing that happens in a fallen world.” It is a reminder that all things are not yet as they should be. It is a reminder that we are fallen and in need of redemption. It should cause us to long for the day when all things will be made right, when the curse is removed. It should cause us to read with more empathetic appreciation Paul’s words in Romans 16:20- “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Christian hope is not the flimsy idea that suffering will not usually come, but is the sturdy recognition of the inevitability of suffering in this life (2 Tim 3:12) coupled with the knowledge that God will eventually destroy evil and make all things right. It is this truth which has always inspired the saints (1 Cor 15:58; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 2 Tim 1;12).

Our God Reigns!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor by D. A. Carson

Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor by D. A. Carson

This is probably the forthcoming book about which I am most excited. I deeply appreciate the ministry of Dr. Carson as I have studied in his classes, read his books and listened to his sermons. Some who have not heard him in person may not realize his heart for the ordinary pastor. This was a common theme I heard from him, particularly in his Advanced Greek Exegesis class. This may seem to have been an odd setting, but I think he was seeking to keep our feet on the ground lest we get too caught up in what we thought we knew.

Along the way I remember him referring to the labors of his father, his faithfulness in obscurity and suffering. Not too long ago, Dr. Carson gave a moving tribute to his father as an example of faithful, unknown pastors everywhere in the Forum section of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. (I have been unable to find this on the website. If someone has the link please send it along)

So, I am excited about now having a book length treatment of this subject from Dr. Carson. I have been able to read some of the book and have really appreciated it. This is sorely needed in our day of Christian celebrity worship. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book when it comes out. May it inspire us (as Carson suggests in his preface) not to seek to be the next well known hero of the faith, but simply to be faithful. If God be pleased nothing else will matter.