Chafer Bible Conference 2019

I had the privilege last week to be invited by Dr. Robbie Dean to be a keynote speaker at the Chafer Bible Conference 2019 in Houston, Texas. The folks were very gracious, hospitable, and most important, eager to engage and follow God’s word.

Below are the session titles and links to the videos for each session.

Session #1: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of the Biblical Narrative

Session #2: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of His Narrative: Genesis

Session #3: Telling His Stories: The Artistry of His Narrative: Jonah

Session #4: Singing His Songs: The Artistry of Biblical Poetry

Session #5: Singing His Songs: The Poetic Artistry of the Psalms

Session #6: Singing His Songs: The Poetic Artistry of the Song of Songs


Review of Ruth Tucker’s, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse

Review of Ruth A. Tucker, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse (Zondervan, 2016) 206 pages.

Ruth Tucker of Jerusalem to Irian Jaya fame, has penned a personal, heart-wrenching account of years of domestic violence at the hands of her “charming, articulate, and intelligent” husband and once beloved pastor. Her ex-spouse (who is never named in the book) inflicted untold physical and emotional horror on her and their son for years. Sadly, Tucker’s experience is not unique in the church. Women and their children like her and her son (Carlton) should not have to suffer in silence and alone. The church needs to read this book to be motivated to come along side others like Tucker.

What Tucker suffered at the hands of her husband was terrible and inexcusable. Her ex’s use of the Bible to cower Tucker into submission was not only violence inflicted on his wife, Ruth, but also abuse of the worst kind on the biblical text itself. And this is where Tucker does not differentiate between what the Bible actually teaches and what her husband inflicted on her based on his warped hermeneutic. For Tucker they are one in the same. Since her husband demanded total and unquestioned submission and would physically and/or emotionally make her tow that line, any male who supports and practices loving biblical submission (i.e. complementarianism) in marriage is like her husband.

While there is certainly a danger that the doctrine of biblical submission in marriage has (and will be) used as a vicious club (23), Tucker misses the point that God never intended this doctrine to be wielded in such fashion. Sadly, she also confuses the perpetrator with the teaching when she writes, “Yet the doctrine of male headship demands that an independent single woman turn into another woman—a woman under subjection” (53). Tucker’s horrendous experience was at the hands of her ex who had violated the biblical text long before he had abused her.

The Future of Seminary Education

For those interested in how seminary education should be delivered need to read Paul R. House’s, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case Study of Costly Discipleship and Life Together (Crossway, 2015).

House uses Bonhoeffer’s seminary model as a way to evaluate the current shift of seminary education away from resident programs to online. While House recognizes the need and value of online seminary education in a few incidents, these are only for emergencies where a potential student is unable to attend a residential program.

House argues that the delivery system of seminary education should be driven by theology and not cash flow that some have suggested online programs promise. He writes, “Thus I believe that a biblical theology of pastoral formation makes face-to-face community-based seminary education a priority, not a preference. (I also believe that the same is true for a Christian liberal arts university, but that is a subject for another time.) Online education for degree credit (at per-credit fees) may be reserved for true emergency cases, but not be accepted as normative or used regularly for pastoral formation” (15).

Most seminary professors would applaud House’s call. However, it is not the professor who needs to be convinced but the potential student. One of my seminary students, who left today for his paid internship, stopped by yesterday and rehearsed all that he learned and experienced by being in a residential program. He recognized that while he could have taken his degree online, he realizes that his educational experience would not have been as full or as rewarding if he simply did his courses online. While this student had a family and steady job, he was unique in that he had the finances and medical occupation that was transferable to almost any geographical area. Many students do not have these same blessings. Contrary to House, online seminary education is a strong, viable (and biblical) alternative for many students. However, seminary faculty, administration and potential students need to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each delivery system.

While not everyone will agree with his premise or conclusions, House raises thought provoking questions that seminaries need to wrestle with as we train others for ministry in the local church.

Chapter in new book announced

I have a chapter in a new book forthcoming from Weaver Publishing this October.  The title of my chapter is “Redeeming Chronic Pain: When Surgery Doesn’t Work” in When Suffering Is Redemptive: Stories of How Anguish and Pain Accomplish God’s Mission. I share my journey with God through Trigeminal Neuralgia. Dr. Larry Waters from DTS is the editor and a contributor as well. Joni Eareckson Tada has written the forward.  See the rest of the chapter titles and book blurb here.  Here is a working cover of the book.                book cover

The Church’s Response to Same Sex Marraige

Came across this article that echo’s what I have been saying about the church’s response to same sex marriages for awhile. Canadian Cary Nieuwhof’s five points are spot on. In his blog post he cautiously offers advice to his American counterparts on how the church should respond to same sex marriage, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling. (Same sex marriage has been legal in Canada for 10 years). See his blog post here: “His Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian.”

His second point, “It’s actually strange to ask non-Christians to hold Christian values,” is especially poignant for Christians to consider. I have been saying the same thing since the Southern Baptist Convention voted to boycott Disney in 1997. Then I said it was unrealistic to expect “Mickey” to hold Christian values and practices since “he” was not a believer.

I wonder if “we” are upset over the loss of being the nation’s “conscience.” No longer are Christians able to insist that people act sort of “Christian” under the force of law. Now it seems that people will only have an opportunity to act Christian if they are truly saved. I get the sense from reading the NT that the early believers had to live and speak from a truly minority position as well. They did it with love, not comprising the truth and within that position the church flourished. Maybe modern Christians need to take a page from their “playbook.”

The Pastor and Theologian in One Person

While in not so many words, Douglas Webster offers an advertisement for Baptist Bible Seminary’s PhD program in his recent review article of a new book: The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson. In his review, “Calling All Augustines” Christianity Today (July/August 2015 see article here) he notes that the authors call for a return of the pastor theologian. They rightly see the need for the academic and pastor to be combined in one man and he in the local pastorate. In our PhD program (see here) we are designed to do just that. All of our professors have extensive pastoral or missionary experience, are currently involved in their local church and all possess terminal academic degrees within their fields from DTS, TEDS and BBS. A number of our graduates and current PhD students are fulfilling this book’s vision. I am thinking of Dave in Canada; John in California; Jay in Delaware and Mike in New Jersey just to name a few. These men are pursing this degree to simply be a better pastor for their flock. These men are not “passive conveyors of insights from theologians” but are men who combine academic rigor at the highest level with a pastor’s heart. Webster concludes his article by recognizing the need for more men such as these. I agree completely. Local churches should be looking for such men as these and supporting their pastor who wants to pursue such a course.

DL Moody and Scranton

A few months ago I finished reading a biography of D. L. Moody. It was published in 1900 by his son, William R. Moody. Besides enjoying reliving the life of a great evangelist, what made the book fascinating was that between its pages were newspaper clippings. One envelope contained what looks to be an original obituary from December 22, 1899 the day of Moody’s death with the headline: “Dwight L. Moody is Dead: Great Evangelist Expires at Northfield, Mass.” Other articles were of his Northfield Conference, pictures of the evangelist and his work.

There were a number of quotable anecdotes as well:

One day a man arose who said that he had been five years on the Mount of Transfiguration. Mr. Moody cast a quick glance upon the speaker and flashed into his face a sharp question:

“How many souls did you lead to Christ last year?”

“Well, I don’t know,” was the astonished reply.

“Have you saved any?” persisted Mr. Moody.

“I don’t know that I have,” answered the man with a depressed air.

“Well,” said Mr. Moody, “we don’t need that kind of mountain top experience. When a man gets up so high that he cannot reach down and save poor sinners, there is something wrong” (367).

“’Some ministers think it is undignified to advertise their services,’ he said on one occasion. “It is a good deal more undignified to preach to empty pews, I think” (426).

An interesting area historical fact: Moody always had a keen interest in the YMCA and promoted it vigorously. While conducting meetings in various cities of eastern PA, Moody recognized the need for a YMCA building in Scranton to reach the young men of the city with the gospel. He took it upon himself at a convention in Scranton to suggest raising $75,000.00 (in 1885 dollars)! He secured $60,000.00 in less than four days and in less than six weeks had raised the entire amount (478-81).












The Huffington Post and the Song of Songs

Someone has said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. I guess I am having mine. I was mentioned in an article at The Huffington Post (here). I am preaching on the Song of Songs for one of our Project Jerusalem Church plants, Restored Baptist Church in Wilkes-Barre PA this Sunday. Also, check out the local news story (here) and an editorial about Restored billboard (here).

While I understand the editorial, it saddens me that a Christian would criticize another believer in the press (cf. Matt 18).