Archive | Theology/Bible

My Mentor John Piper and Romans 12:1-2

John Piper discipled me in my car when I attended Dallas Theological Seminary. I used to listen to his sermons as I would commute to and from work and school. Throughout my career in seminary, the Lord used John Piper to shape my thinking about God and the scriptures more than any single teacher that I ever had. I know of no preacher who combines exegetical, theological, and devotional depth like Dr. Piper. His ministry, which is called “Desiring God,” makes all of his sermons (manuscripts and audio) available for free at http://www.desiringgod.org/.

I am teaching on Romans 12:1-2 in a Sunday morning bible study at my church. As is normal for me, I draw on a number of different resources in preparing for my teaching. Five of John Piper’s sermons in particular have been tremendously helpful to me, stimulating not only my mind but also my heart. Therefore, I heartily recommend these sermons to you.

Build Your Life on the Mercies of God – by John Piper
Present Your Bodies as a Living Sacrifice to God – by John Piper
Do Not Be Conformed to This World – by John Piper
The Renewed Mind and How to Have It – by John Piper
What Is the Will of God and How Do We Know It? – by John Piper

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My New Favorite Album: “Soul Still Remembers”


Pictured above: The Critics’ CD release concert in Shreveport, LA.

I’ve just posted a review of the the Critics‘ debut CD on the “CD Baby” website (click here). “Soul Still Remembers” really is my new favorite album, and the Critics are my new favorite band.

Musically, “Soul Still Remembers” deserves a place among the all-time greats. I am a fan of bands like Counting Crows, Vertical Horizon, and Train, and this album surpasses them all. A written review cannot do justice to the Critics by way of description. You simply have to buy this album and listen to it for yourself.

To enjoy the album as it was intended, you really have to buy the CD. The songs are not arranged willy-nilly, but actually appear in an intentional sequence. The CD jacket is printed like a book, complete with chapter divisions and endnotes. Each song comprises a chapter (or “canto”) in what is supposed to look like a book of poetry. And the lyrics are indeed poetry.

The lyrics portray the ruminations of an individual who is grappling with the issue of repentance, and each chapter opens up new vistas into the human condition before God. All of this is mixed with a profound understanding of the Word of God and how it describes our plight and salvation. Every time I reread these lyrics, there is a new insight that I hadn’t seen before.

One of my favorite songs of the album is “To Jeremiah,” a poem about the prophet and the Biblical book bearing his name. This song illustrates what is true of the rest of the pieces on the album; the lyrics can stand alone by themselves as poetry. Here’s “To Jeremiah”:

Sing to me, Jeremiah,
of pickled skin and cracked bones,
of wrists rusted by chains
and feet cut by the stony road
where lion and bear wait
to kill your view of faulty Zion,
stripped down from her hill.

Tell me, Jeremiah,
about this town with no King,
where you, pressed face-long to the ground,
taste your teeth broken down
for the least of these.
Women eat salty skin
boiled and baked within them,
in their own hands,
and the prophets lie
and see clever fantasies
to calm the captives.

Let me, Jeremiah,
bear the yoke while I’m young
that I might sit down and shut up
disgraced in my own ashes—
a “harlot-town’s son”—
so I can better know your hope
because, sir, I’ve seen your King.
Oh, Jeremiah sing,
for your King, at last, has come.

A new kingdom has come.

Do not delay. Make haste and add this album to your collection.

(When you visit the CD Baby website, listen to the following songs: “A Floor Below,” “Worse Than I Thought,” and “Soul Still Remembers.”)

Pictured below: Me (left) and the lead singer Myles Roberts (right) after the CD Release concert.

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The Demise of Sloan and the Fortunes of “Baylor 2012”

After the Board of Regents fell short by one vote last May to oust the President of Baylor University, opponents of Robert Sloan finally got their way on Friday without firing a shot. It was announced on Friday that Sloan would step down from the position of President and CEO of Baylor and move into the position of Chancellor. Though the public face of the transition appeared very amiable, it is an open secret that this transition was the result of pressure from opposition both within and without the University.

Sloan had become a lightning rod of sorts, advocating a vision for Baylor University that would make it a top-tier academic institution while maintaining a distinct Christian mission and identity. This vision is called “Baylor 2012.” In Sloan’s words, “Baylor University has the opportunity to become the only major university in America, clearly centered in the Protestant traditions, to embrace the full range of academic pursuits.”

In the November 2004 issue of First Things, Richard John Neuhaus expressed precisely what was at stake in this vision:

“The crux of the conflict at Baylor is over the nature of truth, and whether it is possible under evangelical Protestant auspices to build a world-class research university and thus provide a counterforce to the dreary history of the declension of Protestant (and Catholic) higher education from Christian seriousness, a declension powerfully narrated by James Burtchaell’s The Dying of the Light. . . . The cultural and intellectual influence of Christian higher education in this society has a lot riding on the bold, and predictably embattled, experiment underway at Baylor” (First Things, November 2004, pp. 71-72 ).

I fear that the vision of “Baylor 2012” will have a whole different character or be perhaps entirely lost without Sloan at the helm. However, I am reminded by a good friend that the glass may not be half empty, but half full. He writes:

“Don’t forget that the board is pretty well Sloan’s board. The chairman is a member of Prestonwood. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a greater than Sloan was elected President? Also, remember the Provost, who will run the school in the interim, is Dr. David Jeffrey, a Wheaton grad who has hired about half the present faculty, all of whom are conservative evangelical Christians who know how to integrate faith and learning. If this is a movement of God, not just of Sloan, who can stop it?”

I will be hoping and praying that my friend is right.

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