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Showing posts from October, 2011

Getting into Mark's Gospel

When you get the opportunity to teach from or about the Scriptures, the situation pushes you to get to know the particular book or passage of the Bible in an even greater way.  I am doing a teaching time coming up on the Gospel of Mark and have been utterly amazed at the message and teaching of Jesus throughout the gospel.  Generally in NT scholarship, the narrative is divided up between the 1:1-8:26 and 8:27-16:8.  The break in these sections is predicated on the idea that up to 8:27 Jesus is seen as a miracle worker, one who has authority over the forces of nature and one who calls his followers into a relationship with him.  The themes of both discipleship and authority permeate the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus garners authority through his power over the sickesses that ravage humankind (leprosy, paralytic, withered hand) and speaks as one who has authority.  The peoples amazement at his teaching as one who has authority is in direct opposition to those scribes who taught in the synagogu…

The Uniqueness of Jesus

Recently I have been re-reading a book that I read a few years ago focusing on Jesus.  The book Who Do You Say That I Am? Christology and the Church is edited by Donald Armstrong and combines essays from Anglican thinkers from Alister McGrath to N.T. Wright.  While I was reading the last chapter entitled Christ and His Church by the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, I came across a statement by Carey that was particularly illuminating.  Carey writes, "The true Jesus who is exposed in the Gospels is a far more complex character.  His cryptic sayings, his elusive parables, his mysterious silences, his commanding presence - this extraordinary ministry was punctuated with a language of violence against the callousness of the conventional world" (127-128).  At one hand, Carey hints at the truth that Jesus couldn't be nailed down as to his philosophy, his sole mission, or his specific teachings.  Jesus was elusive in the sense that the people whom he ministered to …

Dostoevsky in Rare Form

Peter Leithart has written an imminently readable and entertaining biography of one of Russia's greatest fiction writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky. Written in the form of a dialogue between Dostoevsky and a friend, this book winds through history, Dostoevsky's influnces, family life, and personality. What you find as begin to read the book is rare book that is able to inform while also keep you interested.




Leithart, being well acquainted with theology and literature writes early on that Dostoevsky was early on encouraged to read the Bible through a book of gospel stories (7). Growing up with a strict father and a gentle mother, Fyodor enjoyed playing in the fields alongside the great privlege of listening to stories. Leithart mentions that Fyodor's father was adamant about passing on the Orthodox faith to his children. Early on Leithart writes, "Fyodor loved the evenings, after dinner, when Dr. Dostoevsky would take out one of Ann Radcliffe's haunting tales that made Fyod…

Mission and Social Justice

Having read Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung, I was somewhat familiar with DeYoung's main message and points concerning the church and social justice. Yet, this new work by DeYoung and Greg Gilbert entitled What is the Mission of the Church was a welcome addition to the discussion regarding the church's mission, message, and goal. Both authors locate the mission of the church early on in the book as, "..the church is sent into the world to witness to Jesus by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations" (26). This substantial yet clear defintion undergirds their whole book as pinpointing mission, social jusitice and the church under the central focus of proclamation, discipleship, and bearing witness to Jesus. This definition might seem oddly enough a too simplistic aim. Yet, as Gilbert and DeYoung indicate, this definition of the church has been missed by many in the church seeking to replace other avenues of thought and action such as building the …

Grief and God's Grace

Robert Bugh in his new book entitled When the Bottom Drops Out has written a timely, deeply moving book about grief and dealing disappointment through God's grace. Many books on grief focus narrowly on a specific focus (losing a loved one, abuse, divorce, etc.) but I think this book really covers the gamut of the various griefs tha human beings face. In the very first chapter Robert tells the story of how his wife Carol and best friend Tom died very close together and how painful it was. He writes, "Initally, we thought we might beat her cancer, but during the last four months of her life we knew Carol was fighting a losing battle" (23). The deep pains of realizing that the person you most love in the world is gone is earth-shattering, enough to push a person into the depths of despair. Yet, as Robert continually calls his readers back to; pain and grief are real but God is also sovereign over all things.




The best thing I liked about this book was its honest approach of …

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

This collection of poems, short stories, historical rememberings, and prayers is a great guide to seeing gratitude displayed in written form. From the short poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and William Blake to the short stories by Louisa May Alcott and Sister Bridget Haase, withi. these pages are reminders that thankfulness to God and to others is not limited by time and circumstance. Rather, thankfulness, the act of being thankful should cover over all of life, keeping us from wallowing in guilt, self-pity and meaninglessness.




One of my favorite parts of the book was the short story by Sister Bridget Haase about a time when she was living in West Virginia. The story really tugged at my heart because of the message that explains at the end of the book. Without giving away the story, she writes about her experience with a family as poor as they come in the state of West Virginia and how the family exhibits thankfulness beyond measure as she sits down with them for a Thanksgiving meal.…