• Books,  Pastoring,  Theology

    Permission to Love One Another

    February’s residency read was The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju. I think this book is a great introduction to the pastor’s call to really shepherd the flock. It is also a great place to begin thinking about how the call of the pastor has a trajectory of whole body involvement in discipleship, including biblical counseling. Chapter Seven, especially, points the reader to consider how the whole body works together for health of individuals and church alike: A culture of discipleship means that members don’t have to sign up for anything to get permission to love one another. It is a church culture where it is normal…

  • Biblical Studies,  Books,  Theology

    Man As Created Person: God Must Take the Initiative

    Yesterday, I had the pleasure of preaching John 13:1-20. It is a great passage, dwelling on humility, self-sacrifice, and God’s providential love and relational knowledge. One of the major topics I addressed was the way in which we need Jesus to initiate relationship with us. And the building tension with Judas, juxtaposed against Jesus’ own example, gave ample room to talk about moving from the position of rebel, into a re-prioritization of life centered on God’s own character and plan, “gospel lenses”. During the conclusion of the message, I took some time to draw attention to the way I regularly see God work in our body, drawing things together without…

  • No Shortcut to Success
    Books,  Pastoring,  Social Sciences,  Theology

    Worldview and Discipleship: The Excluded Middle

    Since the second day of T4G 2022, I’ve been reading no shortcut to success, and I have been loving it. But chapter 8 took things to a whole other level as it addressed worldview and discipleship. There is just so much in it to commend to you, my reader. Getting There More than once I’ve heard it said that if you can only read a part of this book, read chapters 1-3. And those first few chapters, where Matt Rhodes lays out the issues he is seeing on the field, are great. They are clear, helpful, challenging. But more than anything, I reached the end with a feeling of, “A…

  • Books,  Theology

    Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs

    Concise Theology is well worth the read. In short bursts of two to three pages each (usually), J.I. Packer proceeds to lay out historic Christian beliefs for his readers. While I would have loved to see just a bit more at times, overall, I thought the pacing and breakdown was excellent. Packer is pastoral, caring for the body of Christ, and passionate, reveling in the glories of Christ, the work of the Spirit and the majesty of the Father. Even when I either disagreed or would have stated something slightly differently, I found him to demonstrate humility and patience, no easy task when your intent is to be concise. The…

  • Biblical Studies,  Books,  News

    Missing The Mount

    We are missing our church body this morning. The family is on the road, on our way to enjoy both Christmas and the New Year with my parents, and one of my sibling’s families. I spent some time in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, as my daughter took a turn driving. Thought I’d take a moment in the Christmas story, as I pray for safety in our travels: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great…

  • Entry to S. Maria in Trastevere
    Books,  Language,  News

    Leaving Rome

    So, the time to leave Rome and head to Umbria had arrived. Or rather, had nearly arrived. Taking the last hour, Kim and I stopped at a small cafe and each had a cappuccino. Kim got a biscotto to go with hers, and some zucchero as well. I took mine straight. We left, and headed towards the church whose front courtyard hosted most of the outdoor seating for the restaurant Popi Popi, where we ate dinner on our anniversary, first night in Rome. But before getting there, I suggested to instead head to nearby (an extra block or so) Basilica di S. Maria in Trastevere. This church had come highly…